Ministry hosts workshop for disability, caregivers

The Ministry of Women Community and Social Development (M.W.C.S.D.) has hosted a workshop for people living with disability as well as caregivers as part of its commemoration of 16 Days of Activism.

The two-day workshop at the Taumeasina Island Resort is being held in partnership with the Soul Talk Samoa Trust and started on Wednesday.

The Ministry’s Chief Executive Officer, Afamasaga Faauiga Mulitalo, said the workshop is a part of the celebration of the 16 Days of Activism and the week celebrating persons with disabilities in Samoa.

She said the workshop will focus on training for persons with disabilities as well as carers and will be delivered by Soul Talk Samoa. 

"Our program today is part of the commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism as well as the celebration of the national week for persons with disabilities in Samoa," Afamasaga told the Samoa Observer.

"The 3rd of December was the International Disability Day but we have decided to run a whole week of activities to recognise and acknowledge the contribution of our people with disabilities in Samoa.

"Today and tomorrow, Soul Talk Samoa is running training for persons with disabilities, carers as well as the non-government organisation doing work in the space of disability as well as Government ministries."

She added that the idea is to engage their NGO partners to deliver relevant training for people with disabilities and those involved with the work to support and advocate for their rights. 

Soul Talk Samoa delivered the training on Wednesday and according to the co-founder of the organisation, Lemau Palaamo, their involvement at the workshop is crucial as they will be able to up-skill the care-givers and share on things that will be able to support them in their daily routine, especially caring for persons with disabilities.

"It is amazing and I praise God that they were able to share how they feel; both carers and people with disabilities and those who are actually disabled,” Ms Palaamo said.

“They shared their feelings, their heart and just their everyday lives and what they have been going through, and just to come out like that is a major big step for them to heal and to feel special that they are included in society.”

Ms Palaamo further reiterated that during the workshop, people with disabilities came forth and shared their feelings of what they've gone through, which was mainly discrimination. "Discrimination is one of the feelings they’ve going through and discrimination was a big one and if they are not understood, comes emotions of sadness, anger because they are not actually understood in way of communication," she added.

"So that was the whole point why ourselves and the Ministry of Women’s got together because they found that there was a much more need to work in the space especially for people with disabilities."

Mental health issues are being addressed progressively in Samoa, however, Ms Palaamo said that it's still behind compared to overseas countries. 

She noted that people had only realised how significant mental health is during the outbreak of the measles epidemic last year. 

"It’s getting there but if we compare it to overseas, we’re probably behind in relation to mental health and I think it actually came out more with the psychosocial support in this area was more when we had the measles epidemic and that’s how our people realized how important this area of psychosocial and counselling and psychology is important to our people," she said.

"It’s being aware of it, but there’s another thing whether people will approach and ask for help but it’s there."

Soul Talk Samoa Trust is co-founded by Rev Dr Alesana Palaamo and Lemau Palaamo who are lecturers at the Malua Theological College. Dr Palaamo is the head of the department for practical theology and has completed his PhD at Massey University. Prior to being pastors, they were counsellors in Australia and New Zealand.

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