Role models work to empower
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
That is the motivation behind three Deaf Empowerment Officers from Senese who overcame their disability by being role models for people in similar situations as them.
Koaiata Afualo, Tuiala Aii and Simona Simati have started a supply line for handicraft work.
They supply Treasure Box Samoa and they usually deliver orders of about 100-150 printed paper bags depending on the requested amount.
Koaiata, 43, from Moamoa and Siufaga has been working at Senese for more than five years.
“I felt that I have improved my knowledge in terms of printing, not only that but how to sell the products,” she said.
“But of course the problem is the communication between those who speak and us who use sign language.
“At the moment I am working on ways to teach students with different disabilities how to paint and also try handicraft work.
“For me, it is not about money, I want others to learn and become empowered,” Koaiata said.
Tuiala, 50, is from the villages of Vaitele fou and Sasina Savaii.
“I create pattern designs which are used to layout and paint on for paper bags, clothes and uniforms too. My designs are inspired from our traditional Samoan patterns.
“But at the end of the day I want to help others and share my knowledge with them especially those who have disabilities
“At the moment I am teaching young deaf students how to paint and design so that they can be empowered and inspired to do so much more,” Tuiala said.
The youngest of the three is 20-year-old Simona from Vaimoso.
“I just started last year in Senese and so it is my first time to do what the other two are doing and so far I have been learning how to do everything.
“So far, I am working on creating new designs and have a better understanding of how everything is done.
“I love that we work as a team, sharing ideas and thoughts about everything, it makes any job easier if we stand together as one.
“In the future, I hope more of those who live with similar disabilities get inspired to come work and empower, but also teach others with disabilities for free,” Simona said.
Co-owner of Treasure Box Samoa, Christa Szegedi said: “I provide for the materials like papers which come in plain, paint and with whatever they need to create these printed paper bags that are being supplied to me which I also buy from them.
“I just wanted to help, I want them to prosper and be better in every way. Most of my customers are surprised when I tell them that the bags are supplied from Senese. Maybe other companies can try and make some orders.
“The quality every time they bring it, has improved greatly and so there is great improvement that comes with it. They have been our suppliers for more than two years.”
Senese is an inclusive education support services which caters to the needs of all students with disabilities. Deaf empowerment officers provide various services in Senese like sign language and other educational purposes.