Being successful comes after a series of failures, disappointments, rejections and criticism but still persist. This is why success for the self-employed nofotane women under the SVSG Nofotane Program, is said to be bitter sweet. To actually believe in your own self is more than simply believing in your own ultimate success. It is a total mindset change, as the positive overrides the negativity.
This was the feeling amongst the participants to the 10th session of Self-Esteem Workshops conducted by Samoa Victim Support Group for the self-employed nofotane women, with funding support from the European Union.
Held at Fasitoo-tai for the registered nofotane women to the Program from Satapuala, Faleatiu, Vailuutai and Leulumoega Tuai, the 10th session received a record number of 73 participants. While 75% of the participants attended previous economic empowerment programs carried out by SVSG, the rest were nofotane women who were empowered by the other women themselves, which highlighted a significant buy in for the project at the village level.
The ripple effect of not only being empowered, but to change mentalities along the way, is the sustainability aspect that the project seeks to acheve; and the nofotane women have exceled in it tremendously.
Take for instance, Aso Faafetai of Leulumoega-tuai, who in 2016, joined the Nofotane Program as an unemployed nofotane woman. She learnt fabric priting, commercial cooking and the basics in financial literacy while being encouraged to believe in herself through the self-esteem workshops. For a year, Aso became a street vendor, selling her bakings from village to village. According to Aso, “Despite being tired from walking on a daily basis to sell my bakings, this did not discourage me, as much as the ridicule and the snide remarks from others.” Aso opened a Savings Account during the second year of her business and today, her savings enabled her to open a small shop in front of their house. She no longer walks for miles to sell her bakings, but is now sharing her baking skills with other nofotane women to support themselves and their families.
On the other hand, Kolopa Fale, a 70 year old mother from Satapuala shared on being an unemployed nofotane woman survivor of violence. Kolopa was physically abused by her husband while enduring the verbal put down from her in laws. It was a life, according to Kolopa, “which was marked by fear and depression” as she forced herself to sleep in the outside kitchen as her refuge from the abuse. Helpless and unemployed, Kolopa returned to her family at Satapuala with her children, where they started anew. The Nofotane Program taught Kolopa that “she is more precious than jewels ….” and it triggered a will within her to work harder. Kolopa now owns a small shop; her husband followed her and the children to Satapuala, and she took him in. With a forgiving heart and a positive mentality towards life, Kolopa is a flourishing 70 year old, who had conquered the challenges that came with being an unemployed nofotane women.
“Thanks to the funding support from the European Union through the Civil Society Support Program, SVSG continues to help women of courage such as Aso Faafetai, Kolopa Fale, and many others, whose lives are the living proofs of how a positive mentality sustains women empowerment.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President