Fa'afafine Association hosts national forum
The Samoa Fa'afafine Association (S.F.A) hosted a national forum to inform its members on available opportunities that they are unaware of.
The forum is part of the Fa'afafine Week and was held at the Tanoa Hotel on Thursday.
According to the S.F.A President Alex Su’a, the theme of the forum is "building resilience through informed communities."
“And with the circumstances of COVID-19 it’s really deepening the gap for our members to access services that they are not aware are available for them,” Su’a added.
Further, the S.F.A. President highlighted that the forum brings together representatives to speak on information about the services that they find relevant to its members.
“We had about six presentations and so far the feedback from our members is really good and some of the presenters included: Samoa Business Hub, Samoa Bureau of Statistics, and Disaster Management Office.
“Samoa Business Hub presented on the available lending packages for our members, setting up their businesses and using their skills and knowledge as a tailor, designers so that was a good opportunity.
“We also had S.B.S., there was an offer that the next consultation they will invite our association to provide any issues that they wish to gather in the next census.”
Su’a then spoke on the significant of the forum to its members.
“I thought that was very progressive, they [S.B.S.] acknowledged that one of the challenges that they’ve encountered so far is that they haven’t really touched on collecting information on the fa’afafine and fa’atama.
“So they will invite us to be part of the next census consultation that is an achievement from this forum.
“Other presentations were from the Disaster Management Office and the Labour employment scheme, there is an offer towards our association to be weary and provide a list of those interested to be part of that scheme.”
In addition, “a lot of our members are not aware of this information because some of them are family caretakers and because of the labels and stigma that are attached to them that’s why they are shy to really access these services.”
“It is basically about building resilience for them and they will only be resilient and be confident in what they do when they are thoroughly informed and this is where all this information services to be made available through the forum.
Su’a said that the total number of their association members has not reached a hundred.
“I think the overall focus of the forum is keeping the momentum basically a personal touch of inspiration to our members while we are going through some difficult times with the COVID-19 pandemic, we can work through this, we use these opportunities to addressing the issues that pertains directly to us.
“I think the fa’afafine and fa’atama community are not accepted in society.
“There are some personal aspects of who the fa’afafine and fa’atama are that our society will never accept but we’ve moved past that, we continue to advocate on those issues in such a way that we are not really aggressive about it but we are also looking at other issues.”
The S.F.A. President also said other issues include building capacity to be able to be productive to their own families and to offer tautua [service] in their villages and churches, as those were important aspects that should be focused on.
On Wednesday, the Association conducted charity work for its members, according to Su’a.
“We did a donation of much needed supplies for our members, it was presented through our registered members and club members.
“The funding we received was from Global Interfaith Network which is an international network that S.F.A. is an affiliated member.
“Our members got food supplies like, flour, rice, sugar, tin fish, and detergents and others got cash power credits.”
The S.F.A. president added that the assistance was significant because some of its members are unemployed and others do not have access to help provided through the Government.