The empowered Nofotane women series

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Fa’afetai Aumua of Samusu.

Fa’afetai Aumua of Samusu.

As the livelihood training of nofotane women rolls out in village communities over the next 12 months, Samoa Victim Support Group, in partnership with U.N. Women Fund for Gender Equality, will share with you ‘The Empowered Nofotane Women Stories.’

These are the stories of nofotane women who have completed livelihood trainings with the project, and have started income generating activities to support not only themselves, but also their families and their village communities.

Each story tells of the different gender equality issues faced by these nofotane women. 

However, what they have in common is restored self-esteem, from being empowered women.

For this week, we will feature stories from some of the empowered women of Aleipata. Luisa had lived the hard life of a nofotane woman for a long time, but she tolerated it until her husband left her and her children 5 years ago.

Luisa had no choice but to return home. There, she started from scratch, with no job and 5 children to care for; the priority was to have a roof over their heads, food to eat and the children to school. 

It was a daily struggle. Luisa attended the nofotane livelihood training held at Aleipata early July 2017.  Today, when S.V.S.G. visited Luisa at her home at Satitoa, the change is noticeable.  She has a smile on her face, she walked with a bounce on her steps.  She has confidence, the confidence of an empowered woman. 

Luisa now earns from selling elei lavalava to people in the village, while delivering some to the local shops in the constituency.  She has started small, but is taking it one step at a time.

Annie is a nofotane woman of Mutiatele.  Before she attended the livelihood training where she learnt the fabric print skill, she was an unemployed housewife. When S.V.S.G. visited Annie at her home three weeks after the Aleipata training, she was busy printing lavalava for a small clientele she had established amongst her family, friends and members of her village.

Paula Alatise of Samusu.
Paula Alatise of Samusu.
Samalita Su’a of Samusu.
Samalita Su’a of Samusu.
Luisa Siaosi of Satitoa.
Luisa Siaosi of Satitoa.

She has taken the initiative to mix the colors and to experiment with different designs.  Through the newly acquired skill from the nofotane training, Annie is adding more vibrant colors to her life. Paula has worked the land since she was married. It is her comfort zone. 

The produce from her vegetable garden is Paula’s contribution to the wellbeing of her family. Paula attended the nofotane livelihood training at Aleipata where she learnt handicraft and commercial cooking skills, yet, Paula’s heart remains with the land.

Through the S.H.I.N.E. program to end the livelihood training, Paula learnt that there is greater value from the works of her hand, depending on what she enjoys doing.

Three weeks now, Paula (pictured in the middle in green polo shirt), with the support of her husband, had turned her subsistence vegetable garden to commercial agriculture. 

Her husband is her major supporter, and she is the boss in her area of work.  Paula had not realized the full potential of vegetable gardening as a business up until the nofotane project encouraged her to deliver her produce to nearby hotels, beach fale accommodations or village stores. 

Now Paula is looking forward to the next harvest so that she can earn an income from her work as a commercial farmer. Fa’afetai’s story is similar to that of Paula.  Fa’afetai attended the nofotane livelihood training and learnt new skills such as elei printing and flower arrangement. 

The program however influenced Fa’afetai to turn her hobby of vegetable gardening, into an income generating activity for her family.  For some of the nofotane women, all they need is an encouragement for them to realize their potential. An elderly nofotane woman, Samalita Su’a was excited when SVSG visited her home at Samusu this week, as part of the follow up on the nofotane livelihood training. 

She has been an unemployed nofotane woman for more than 30 years.  She showed us her woven fans and some of the clothes she has sewn for sale. Samalita is starting to earn an income from the comfort of her own home.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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