There has been a noted connection between improved self-esteem in women and their abilities to form support networks with other women, as the Nofotane Program continues in village communities.
This connection was highlighted by the sharing amongst the 37 nofotane women from Nofoalii, Fasitoo-tua, Tufulele and Satapuala, who gathered at Faleasiu for the the 11thsession of Self-Esteem workshops for self-employed nofotane women.
Included in the training was one of the Star Earners from the 2016-2018 Nofotane Program, the 61 year old Beauty Luteru of Faleasiu.
Before the Nofotane livelihood training reached Faleasiu in October 201717, Beauty had already earned an income through selling Samoan cocoa. What Beauty learnt from the program was to ‘think bigger and outside of her comfort zone.’
As the Inspirational Speaker for the 11th workshop session, the beauty of being empowered, of working in a support network of women with a common goal of helping each other, and of securing overseas markets for her Samoan cocoa products, was obvious. Beauty has expanded her small business to include vegetable gardening and sewing. She helps her husband with decisions on matters concerning their immediate family; and her views are also sought when the extended family gathers. While her participation and her recognition in her family are all new to Beauty, these are not changing how she sees herself, as a nofotane woman, who knows her place in the family. Such a woman of courage, so much humility.
The secret to Beauty’s success was her ‘thinking big’, which includes the extension of her support to other women in her village of Faleasiu, which has become her support network. Beauty now has a Bank Account with goes to show how far she has come as a nofotane woman with a sustainable income.
To think that 2 years ago, these women were merely carrying out domestic duties for their families without any plans of becoming breadwinners, is inspirational. In additional, they have proven to themselves that they can be both a mother and a supporter of their families development through sustainable income, and are doing a good job at it.
With funding support from the European Union through the Civil Society Support Program, Samoa Victim Support Group continues to support the income generating activities of nofotane women, which has proven to have cascading benefits on these women’s families and village communities alike.
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