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Replicating the success of the nofotane to assist poverty-hit families

The other day the Samoa Observer newspaper ran an inspiring story of a woman.She was unemployed, but took a step into the deep unknown through the Nofotane Project, and today earns a living by selling jewellery that she and her family created.Thirty-seven-year-old Rosalina Viliamu of Salua, Manono-tai and her husband were unemployed, poor and dependent on other family members for survival — before she was introduced to the Nofotane Project — which was funded by the UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality and run by the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.).“During that period of my life, our family struggled both financially and for food supplies, but thankfully our families were always there to help us with most of our needs,” she told this newspaper in an interview.Participating in the training and women empowerment project had a life-changing impact on Rosalina and her family.“I had no knowledge or skills of handicraft-making before but thankfully I learned how to produce a variety of accessories using local resources, whatever is available like making lopa necklaces, earrings and bracelets through the project,” she said.Rosalina and her husband’s handicraft business income generation has increased from $100 to over $700 a week with their clients both local and foreign. She is one of the nofotane success stories, and was one of the 5,170 nofotane women who participated in the two-year training programme, which ended last October. And while the positive impact the nofotane women will have on their families will reverberate over the years, there is a need for a similar training and empowerment programme in Samoa, which will cater for the families of child vendors who live in and around Apia as well as rural-based poverty-stricken parents who are struggling to give a decent life (including basic housing) to their families.Everyday a child vendor in the Samoan capital is knocking on your car window to sell basic items or has gone ahead to polish your tyres, in exchange for a dime. These are some of Samoa’s most vulnerable citizens — some of them as young as five — deployed by their parents with baskets of popcorn, banana chips or cotton buds and boxes of matches to sell on the streets. Sometimes these children — who should be at home and out of harm’s way — end up in night club carparks and “work” late into the night. This newspaper has published stories on the plight of the child vendors in recent years, with parents defending their decision to send out their children to sell, often arguing that the experience will make them independent.But the issue needs a long-term solution, and getting their parents to attend a programme which would up-skill and empower them — to open the door to employment opportunities and promotion of children-friendly decisions that would not place them in harm’s way — is the best way forward. At the end of the day, those children should be taken off the streets and put back in school, and given every opportunity to complete their education to become successful in life.In Samoa’s rural communities, life is not getting any easier, if the stories of hardship and poverty that this newspaper has been capturing in its Village Voice pages in recent years is any indication. Melefiva Talafa, Lauiva Tau and Laulauga Faitoatasi have one thing in common — their challenges as mothers in rural Samoa were featured in this newspaper’s Village Voice pages this month — and they all dream of a better and more secure home for their children. All these mothers live in traditional Samoan style fales with their husbands and children, held up by wooden posts and with roofs made from coconut leaves and old corrugated iron. Most of the houses do not have walls with the families often using lavalava as an alternative, which during the wet season stands little to no chance of keeping the family warm and dry and disease-free.It is time for the relevant Government agencies to address the housing needs of poverty-stricken Samoans living in rural areas. And whose remit can this fall under? Perhaps the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development (MWCSD) and Samoa Housing Corporation might want to take note and begin the process to formulate policy, which will enable the Government to address this issue. These families — who for a start cannot afford to buy building materials  — need to have access to a fund, which can either subsidise their costs or better still enable them to be gifted low-cost housing that is tailored made for Samoan families.Having celebrated Samoa’s 53rd Independence Anniversary early this month, surely we would want to ensure all citizens get to share in the wealth and prosperity of this nation, including those who think they are downtrodden and are of the view that no one cares any more. Have a lovely Wednesday Samoa and God bless. 

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa, King Faipopo, and now Malele Atofu Paulo, where are they today?

When the Samoa Observer celebrated its’ 40th anniversary on 25 August 2018, the International Press Institute (I.P.I.), a global network of editors, publishers and leading journalists for press freedom, sent its Deputy Director, Scott Griffen, as its representative to the celebrations.  During his address, M. Scott Griffen, called on the Samoan government to repeal the Criminal libel law that had been reintroduced late in the previous year.He made the call during a banquet in the capital of in Apia, honouring the Samoa Observer newspaper, which was celebrating its 40th anniversary at the time.He said the law of Criminal libel, as we all knew, was activated by the Samoan government to punish the editor of the Samoa Observer by throwing him in jail for doing his job, which was telling the truth.Mr. Griffen also said: “The Samoa Observer is the leading source of independent news in the South Pacific state, and for that very reason, repealing criminal libel is not a cure-all for press freedom, still it is indeed an important step forward.”Speaking before an audience that included Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Mr. Griffen said: “Journalists should never face jail for doing their jobs.”He went on to remind that even though the Samoan government, had repealed Criminal libel in 2013 following years of campaigning by journalists in the country to quash it, it was reintroduced nevertheless following what the government had claimed, was growing online defamation.Still, I.P.I’s Deputy Director, Scott Griffen, was far from being convinced. He said that while officials had not indicated they were planning to use the Law of Criminal Libel against journalists, he noted that the law had already been used to target the Samoa Observer and its founder and editor-in-chief, Savea Sano Malifa, whom I.P.I. had named one of its World Press Freedom Heroes in 2000.He went on to say that “repealing criminal libel isn’t a cure-all for press freedom, but instead it is an important step forward.”Indeed, it seemed clear at the time that he was directing his address as no other than Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.While officials have not indicated plans to use the measure against journalists, Griffen noted that the previous law had been used to target the Samoa Observer and its founder and editor-in-chief, Savea Sano Malifa.Still, the truth showed up, on 5 June 2019. That was when Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, was reported to be a witness in the trial of a chap name King Faipopo, a pseudonym.  By the way, the word Faipopo means he whose job is to gather brown coconuts, that are scattered all over the ground.As for the trial itself, it was slated to be heard on, 22 July 2019.As it turned out though, King Faipopo had a human name, Malele Atofu Paulo. He pleaded not guilty to two charges against him, one of which was in relation to a social media post targeting the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.There were also 13 additional charges against Paulo himself, who had been accused of making false statements designed to harm, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa’s reputation.Represented by lawyers, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, and Josefina Fuimaono Sapolu, Malele Atofu Paulo - or King Faipopo if you prefer - pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.The presiding judge was District Court Judge, Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i, and lawyer Iliganoa Atoa, of the Attorney General’s Office, had told the Court that the complainant, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, was not available from June until the end of July.Now Ms. Atoa told the Court that the complainant Tuilaepa was not available from June until the end of July, and that during that period, Samoa would be holding the Pacific Games.Judge Alalatoa then scheduled the hearing for all the charges against Paulo to be heard on 22 July.And now that Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, is not available from June until the end of July, where is King Faipoppo - or is he Malele Atofu Paulo - hiding today?We truly want to know.

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Finding a way forward at crisis-hit N.U.S.

The National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) has been tossed and turned like a hot potato over the last three months, and its reputation as the country’s premier institution of higher education is threatening to go belly up, if rumblings from a recent Parliament session is any indication.The university’s governance challenges unfolded in early April this year — just over two months after Semester 1 began — when the Cabinet suspended the N.U.S. Vice Chancellor, Professor Fui Asofou So’o and placed Deputy V.C. (academic and research) Peseta Desmond Lee Hang, and Deputy V.C. (corporate services) Maugaoali’i Ufagalilo Fa’amanu Mualia on special leave, to make way for an internal investigation to get underway.Thankfully, the developments on campus came to light a week after the NUS annual graduation, as any sort of impact on this memorable day would have been a major disappointment for the graduates and their families and friends. The Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, told the Samoa Observer that the Cabinet acted on the recommendations of the NUS Council and its decision back then was effective immediately.He said there were allegations levelled against the Vice Chancellor and the two Deputy Vice Chancellors, which warranted an internal investigation. “There is a lot of mess and they are all involved. It began from when the results for university came out earlier this year and the dispute started from there,” he said. Last month this newspaper revealed the internal investigation into the “mess” at the NUS was referred to the Office of the Ombudsman to inquire into and report back to the Cabinet. The Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, confirmed the referral to his office by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. “On the National University of Samoa situation, the Prime Minister has referred to the Ombudsman the matter under s19 (3) of the Ombudsman Act 2013 for investigation and report as a matter of urgency,” he said.“We cannot comment further on this as the investigation is underway”.  Parents and guardians of students attending the N.U.S. were looking forward to the outcome of the inquiry, aware of the implications that it could have on the students’ studies and future, until this newspaper uncovered another university-connected investigation. But this time into the academic credentials of a foreign lecturer, who was recruited to lecture at the NUS School of Medicine.Kenyan national Dr. Embiruka Osborne Nyandiva was introduced by Professor Fui Asofou So’o in October-November last year with much applause, with the now suspended V.C. highlighting his “wealth of knowledge and experience in medical teaching and research” in a statement released by the N.U.S.Even the media including this newspaper were fascinated with his medical qualifications, and the immediate impact he could have on medical students’ learning outcomes.Close to six months later, an inquiry is underway into the background of the Kenyan national. And in a new twist, a university college in Tanzania advised in a public notice last month they are disassociating themselves from Mr. Osborne Nyandiva, who left them in September last year after their own checks raised questions about his academic background.The key question entities such as the Medical Council, Samoa Qualifications Authority and the Office of the Attorney General — who are all privy to the inquiry into the Kenyan academic’s background — will ask is how he went through the recruitment evaluation process without setting off the alarm bells. The next question is how effective is the university’s screening and evaluation process, and when was the last time a review was done on that process to ensure the N.U.S. only recruited the best?The controversy over the academic background of the Kenyan national touches at the core of the N.U.S. Charter — to address the manpower needs of Samoa. Failure to address this is tantamount to failing the dreams and aspirations of this nation, to create its own qualified and skilled workforce to meet the challenges of tomorrow.Early in the week the Member of Parliament for Lefaga and Falease’ela, Tole’afoa Ken Poutoa, told Parliament he was advised by some N.U.S. graduates that the diplomas and degrees that they obtained after studying in Samoa were not recognised in Australia and New Zealand. “I advise the Honorable Minister of Education to look into the degree qualifications being awarded at our the National University of Samoa,” he said.However, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi interjected, and said the issue lies with the individual and not with the institution (N.U.S.).“The problem is not the university, it is the individual alone,” the Prime Minister said.“We have our own vocational schools and on top of that we also have a Technical college from Australia that is set up in Samoa teaching different trades.“It does not matter what knowledge and skill they have. How can they measure such knowledge if they don’t have any experience? The only substance that is looked at is the individual alone.”But with due respects to the P.M., he cannot entirely throw it back to the individual student, when the N.U.S. is recruiting unqualified lecturers in the first place. Doesn't the N.U.S. have a duty of care to its students to ensure the lecturers it recruits for its undergraduate or postgraduate programmes are academically qualified?The concerns expressed by MP Tole’afoa is good feedback that the N.U.S. should immediately take on board, as it could be a hurdle that an increasing number of graduates are facing abroad when on the job hunt. Doing a survey of N.U.S. graduates in the last 10 years, specifically targeting those who have moved abroad, could be the first step towards getting to the bottom of the matter. Nevertheless it is good to see Minister Loau on top of his game, with his announcement of a Cabinet proposal, that would ensure the S.Q.A. gets to vet all appointments of academics with foreign qualifications. Now that's a move in the right direction for Samoa’s premier higher education institution. Have a lovely Friday Samoa and God bless.

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A tale of two men, our heroine and tomorrow's champions

It was only yesterday, when the courageous act of a young Samoan man working on a cruise ship in Europe, graced the front page of your daily newspaper. Vailolo Tala, 21, saw a woman jump off the MSC Seaview last Monday as it docked in the Italian port of Genoa and was the first to respond. He saved a 43-year-old Irish woman — who reportedly jumped off the ship after a fight with her husband — and was later recognised in a small ceremony by the ship’s top brass for his brave and courageous act.A day later another Samoan man made headlines, but for the wrong reasons. The 30-year-old Terry Faati of Sinamoga and Siufaga Falelatai pleaded guilty to one count of rape of an Australian woman on November 21 last year. He will be sentenced by the Supreme Court next month. The social media reaction to the guilty plea of the accused has been instantaneous, drawing condemnation from the public, with some going further to express concerns at the implications that the man’s horrendous act will have on Samoa’s tourism industry. Justice has to take its course and we can only hope that the penalty will ultimately serve as a deterrence to others, who choose to commit crimes against women and girls despite local and international condemnation.The actions of the defendant would be 10 steps back for Samoa, a nation which prides itself on its Christianity ethos and its people’s embracing of the Fa’a Samoa. But thanks to the selfless efforts of Vailolo Tala, the country can look forward to the future with confidence, knowing that there are young Samoan men out there who treat women with respect and are willing to even put their own lives on the line.While it is always considered healthy to acknowledge the country’s social ills, which includes gender-based violence as well as sexual assault, a nation should also celebrate the ability of individual citizens to rise above adversity to protect a life or lives and to strive for a peaceful and violence-free society. Vailolo Tala is in that mould. So too is 18-year-old Samoan girl Leilua Lino.Leilua was sexually assaulted by her biological father and had the courage to face him in Court, and assisted the prosecution with evidence that led to his incarceration. She then created the Peace Garden in 2017, as a way to heal from her experience of sexual violence, and to date her movement has reached out to 20,000 children in Samoa through her various advocacy programmes under the auspices of the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.). She was recently in London, as one of five winners of the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Awards, which was presented by Prince Harry, Duke Of Sussex.Last November Leilua was one of three finalists for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018, which is a global child rights award presented by the Amsterdam-based not-for-profit KidsRights Foundation. She was also a 2018 finalist for the Samoa Observer Persons of the Year. Her profile will continue to grow and she will continue to become an inspiration to more young people. And with the Pacific Games just over a fortnight away, the eyes of the Pacific will be focused on this island nation, which took on the job to play host 18 months ago after Tonga threw in the towel. Samoa will be on the cusp of creating history, when the opening ceremony gets underway on July 7. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has rightfully called the 2019 Pacific Games the “miracle games”, and we can see where he is coming from as the head of the host-government.With all the flags lining the roadsides and hundreds of students in various schools participating in art, craft and dance connected to the various participating Pacific Island nations and territories, we can feel an air of excitement. And while the nation celebrates the efforts of its heroes and heroines in promoting a peaceful and prosperous society, we acknowledge too the long hours that Samoan athletes are spending behind-the-scenes to prepare for the competition in their dreams for top sporting accolades.Have a lovely Saturday Samoa and God bless. 

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Street Talk

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Public support Government ban on foam products

Well people have rights to express themselves, but nowadays many things have changed and I know that the Government banning of cups and plates is due to the increasing concerns for the environment. As an example, if this foam products are banned, what will be used to put food during special events like weddings, birthdays and more. Overall, there would be another product to replace foams product such as wooden product.To me foam cups and plates create a lot of rubbish around the town area and also in our country. But banning it completely will be good and I support the Government and that people should use other products like paper cups and plates.Well foam cups and plates are cheap for people to buy, but the thing they do not know is that after they have been used, they will throw it away and that will become rubbish. However, I totally support the Government's ban on foam products and promote the use of other suitable replacements, such as these cups and plates are like reusable product, which we can use and use it again.Well the Government banning plastic cups and plates will be a great help to our environment, because many people use plastic cups and plates and throw them away after use. But I prefer using the product made out of palm leaves, which I have heard of and that will be a great replacement for foam products. Well to me its a good idea to ban the foam, it's a good idea because it affects people and is not good for the environment. This is a good idea and helps the environment's health such as the sea and land. I have heard of a turtle that ate plastic products in the sea, banning plastic products is a great idea. Well  there are lot of  Samoa people who use foams cups and plates everyday and also for their special events. But there is a suitable replacement for this product, like the reusable cups and plates which come in different colours. And because foam products are burnt by people every day, it affects the air and people just use it and throw it away — creating a big problem for the environment.

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Public express concern at increase in smoking among male youth

Well I have nine kids but none of them smoke. I am 66-years-old and I do not smoke because life is expensive and it causes health problems. Smoking is the main cause of every health problem, old people are quitting smoking but the youth are increasingly smoking, even they know how bad smoking is to them, but they still do it. It might be a way for them to show off to their peers, maybe. There are lots of males who smoke cigarettes, more than females. It's not good for young males to smoke because it will cause health problems, and it will cost them lots of money to buy cigarettes. Now youths are smoking at a very young age (of) 10, 12 etc but their body can't handle the cigarettes so they lose weight and become skinny. There are lots of different health issues arising from smoking. What I see is that there are lots of youth (teenagers) smoking cigarettes, even the kids who are in school, buy cigarettes from the shop. Not only (that), they can buy cigarette from the people who sell cigarettes in the market. It's not good for their health and the age people can smoke is 21, but now the youths are smoking from the ages of 10-19.Youth nowadays are experiencing a lot of changes which attract them, whether in the village, home and school. They're being influenced by other people, like they see other youth smoke and then they go and try it. It's unhealthy for young people to smoke because they tend to become addicted. I've seen it, and I know that a person gets nothing out of smoking.Males and females are the same when it comes to smoking cigarettes. And what I have seen in town is that the girls smoke in the same way as the boys do, and mostly boys and girls who are in school and are underage, below 21. It's not good for their health because they are young, and they can get sick from smoking.It's not a good thing for young people to smoke, and we blame the parents because they are not going their job, and are not taking good care of their children. Also the children do not listen to their parents and that is why young people smoke cigarette.It's not good for young people to smoke because of health problems associated with smoking, and it is a waste of money. 

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Public welcome new online Taxi Service

It will be good for the public as it will be cheaper, and the phone service would make it cheaper for everyone to access. In using this app people will feel secure using it and through this app the people will know everything about the taxi stand and the drive. It is also good for people in time of emergencies, especially for families who have access to vehicles. To me it’s a good thing, in a way of communication and its important in terms of transport. Also it’s a good thing for the Taxi stand owners due to the service that they provide to the public and their push to improve their services while making money. It will be great for the public to use this app for everyday use, in using this app it can also help the  public when there is event like a family member needs to be taken to the hospital so with this app Taxi online Service they can get a taxi to the family in a short time.  Its really good for the people like when there is a family event, like a person need to take to the hospital and they need a taxi. They can use this app and the benefits are for both Taxi stand owners — as they will earn more money — and the people will get the service on time. Its very easy for the public to use this app taxi online Service, because it be a fast way for people to get a taxi, rather than looking and waiting for a taxi on the roadside. Also during bad weather, they can just book a taxi from their house by using the Taxi online service. 

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Reward our world champion weightlifters — members of public

“Well they should get awards from the Government because they won medal and they put Samoa our country on the map and also they have represented our country and they should earn an award for their effort."“Giving them an award because they have shown our country to the world and by them earning medals, they have made Samoa a well known country to the world in the sport they play in. I recommend they should be given cash incentives by the Government, like $5000 tala per person."“To me the Government should reward the two kids who went an represent our country, and now they have won medals for Samoa and now I am sure that every Samoan people are happy of what these kids have done for our country. The reward by the Government should be a cash incentive of $10,000 per person."“Well to me the kids who won the medals should have been rewarded by the Government, because they have put our country Samoa in a place where people will know. Its not the Olympic Games, but they should get a reward from the Government like cash of $10,000.00 tala per person”.“Well by the hard work and their effort that they have put in to the games, and due to them winning gold medals, they should be rewarded by the Government for the kids who earned the medals from the weightlifting tournament."

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Letter to Editor

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U.S. Ambassador tries but no one is fooled

The photo in Wednesday’s Samoa Observer of the American Ambassador and his good lady with Imam Laulu Mohammed Stanley is very touching. Such fake empathy and compassion! If Ambassador Brown is truly sympathetic about what happened to the Muslim community in Christchurch, why not do something real like telling his boss in the White House and his former employers at Fox News to stop demonizing the Muslims with lies and fake news? And while you’re at it by the way, do the same with the evangelical so-called Christians of America.Because when you have such power over how people think and behave, you can’t go on preaching hate against other peoples and then not expect your followers and admirers somewhere to act on it. Words have consequences, the more so when they come from leaders. And what good is wearing a hijab in Samoa other than to take people here for fools, and to copycat the incomparable Ms. Ardern? The big difference is that Ms. Ardern wore the signature Muslim women dress with panache, compassion and most importantly sincerity. The whole world saw that in her, and with the exception of you know where, applauded. She also backed it up immediately afterwards with concrete action.  So please don’t add insult to injury and desecrate the hijab.  Your current employer in the White House and former employer at Fake News continue to empower killers like what’s his name in the Christchurch massacre. Wearing the hijab at this time is nothing but hypocrisy of the highest order and fools no one here. E le valea uma ValeGasa Lefa T. Vailima

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How it works

Re: I admire the Minister  In a Westminster system, the buck stops with Cabinet.

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It’s lost on you

Re: Taxing remittances  It’s obvious that the basic concept of tautua is lost on you. Most countries allow their expatriate citizens to vote from abroad.

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What are you afraid of?

Re: Issues about the HRPP bylaws  Are you afraid of democracy Wendy?

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