People with disabilities studying to make a business out of sewing

Fifteen people with disabilities are studying the arts of business and sewing this week. 

The five-day training workshop is held at the Monalisa Hotel in Vaitele starting Monday, and is being overseen by Nuanua o le Alofa (N.O.l.A) in partnership with the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (S.P.E.C), and the Civil Society Support Program (C.S.S.P). 

The training seeks to address poverty among disabled people in Samoa and enabling students to make contributions to their communities and churches.

The first training session on Monday focused on the theory of how to start a business and an introduction to the sewing machines. After the training concludes on Friday, each participant will put theories into practice and go home with their new sewing machines.

"Our expectations for them is by Friday they should have their products done by themselves and those products have to come with qualities so we can compare them with the qualities of [other] products," said the Programme Officer for N.O.L.A, Andrew Taofi.


Mr. Taofi said the training is to cater for improving the knowledge and experience of people with disabilities so they can earn their own income and make contributions.

"This is another side N.O.L.A. is looking into, people with disabilities are mainly being discriminated most of the time because people say they're not useful but this is N.O.L.A.'s way of paving a path for these people to contribute to anything," he said.

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"So the training is for people with disabilities and their families and in saying that we're opening the door for these people's relatives to participate in the training, for example if someone in a wheelchair can hardly do any sewing, then their family members can  [substitute] themselves."

Seven of the participants are from Savai'i with eight from Upolu.

Some students face additional challenges. Tina Taofia, a 28 year old from Salelologa Savaii and Vaitele, who lost her arm to cancer in 2017 finds straightening cloth difficult but says her passion helps guide her through.  

"I was so passionate about sewing and before when I had both my strong hands, I always helped my [mother] who is a very talented woman in sewing and so I help her most of the time and at the same time I felt so addicted and passionate for sewing," she said.

"Until this happened to my hand, I though I couldn't do anything anymore but thankfully to this training, I have learned that I can still make something out of myself even with just one arm."

Ms. Taofia is looking forward to learning more and adapting herself into sewing so she can make her family, especially her mother, proud again.

The programme is funded by the Civil Society Support Program in partnership with N.O.L.A and S.P.E.C. Training is provided by sewing expert, Vaelupemaua Malaetasi.

The first training on Monday was mainly about theory from the S.P.E.C perspective of how to start a business and the introduction of the sewing machines.

After the training on Friday, each participant will go home with their new sewing machines after learning how to use them.

"Our expectations for them is by Friday they should have their products done by themselves and those products have to come with qualities so we can compare them with the qualities of [other] products," Mr. Taofi said.

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