Psychological first aid programme continues
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency ( A.D.R.A) has been running a psychological first aid program with assistance from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs (D.F.A.T.).
A one day programme, held on 9 March, with the theme of ‘MAU LE TO’OVAE’ (STAY RESILIENT) was for residents of the Vaimauga district starting from Laulii to Apia. Up to four participants were chosen from each denomination including Methodist, C.C.C.S, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Assembly of God and others.
The main purpose of the programme, called Psychological First Aid, was to train and educate leaders of church groups like the choir, women's committees, youth and Sunday school in ways to strengthen mental health.
The programme was lead by Seiulialii Dr. George Tuitama, and is part of the Safe Motherhood Component of a broader project.
Responding to a Samoa Observer email, Dr. Tuitama said the Psychological First Aid program is “training people to carry out the work of counseling and helping people, mentally, before during and after disasters; building resilience and strengthening our people mentally and spiritually”.
Project manager for D.F.A.T., Leiataua Puna Luatimu said there were three components of the programme - Safe Motherhood, Livelihood and Media Campaign.
According to Luatimu, the psychological first aid was part of the first component to strengthen mental preparation while residents are experiencing effects of the global pandemic, such as Covid-19 state of emergency restrictions.
“Our project is a continuation of our programme from last year, and planned for 12 months. It started July 2020. Our next move will be on the South of Upolu and end in Savaii.”
“Our Government partners are the Ministry of Women Community Social Development (M.W.C.S.D.), Ministry of Health (M.O.H.), Police (D.V.U.), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.)
He confirmed their non-governmental organisation partners as CARITAS, SOUL-TALK (counselling Rev. Dr Alesana Palaamo, Malua Theological College), Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.), Samoa Family Health Association( S.F.H.A.), Nuanua ole Alofa (NOLA) and Women in Business Development (W.I.B.D.I.).
“The Project is Funded by the Australian Government," said Leiataua.
"Last year the Livelihood Component mainly focused on Vegetable farms like cabbage, tomato, cucumber etc, completed from Tiavea to Falelatai and will continue to the south side of Upolu from Lefaga to Aleipata.
"When we went back to visit the families involved, we witnessed the success of this D.F.A.T. Project for the people of Samoa, as they started selling their vegetables for extra income."
We interviewed Mereane Punimata, 50, one of the participants from the village of Moataa, who said she she has learned new ways to cope with difficult situations.
She explained that sometimes her children and family give her a hard time, but she has learnt to stay resilient, be patient, have faith in God to help her through tough times.