Much has been said about the strength of a woman, and the Samoan proverb “E au le inailau a tamaitai.”, which literally means, “The women’s row of thatch was completed.” is one such tribute to a woman’s strength.
But metaphorically, the self-employed nofotane women of today have translated this strength into total achievement as evidence by their improved self-esteem, their rise up against domestic violence in the homes; their participation in family and community matters, and their contribution to the economy as earners of their hand made and home grown products.
Close to 50 nofotane women from Faasaleleaga in Savaii were just some of these women of strength. Gathered at Vaiafai Iva, nofotane women from Tuasivi, Fogapoa, Vaisaulu, Lalomalava, Vaiafai, Fusi, Sapapalii, Salelologa and Safua attended the 18th SHINE Workshop as part of the Sustainable Income Generation Project in which Samoa Victim Support Group is currently working on through funding support from the European Union.
According to a mother of 5 and a nofotane woman survivor of violence who is now an entrepreneur in her village at Tuasivi, “I used to tolerate the physical and the mental abuse by my husband, the demeaning words and the constant chasing away from the home, most of the time, while our children watched in silence.. I had nothing to support myself and my children with. I didn’t want to be a burden to my own family if I choose to return home.”
Four years later, what was once a shattered woman is transformed into a woman with a purpose and confidence. Her strength was her belief in herself, and her determination to rise up from the strongholds of violence over her life. Through SVSG’s livelihood training she attended in 2017, she learnt how to sew and the basic financial literacy, and she has never looked back since. She finally had the courage to leave a violent relationship; her children are all in school and her business is thriving. When SVSG visited her at her home, she had piles of orders all around her. She looked at us and smile, pointed at the pile and said, “this is all money.”
This is just one of the many stories of change being shared throughout the SHINE journey for the nofotane women. What is obvious is that while majority of the stories started in tears, majority have positive endings. A confirmation that “E au le inailau a tamaitai.”, “The women’s row of thatch was completed.”
“Thank you to the European Union through the Civil Society Support Program for funding SVSG’s efforts to support the sustainable income generation of the self-employed nofotane women. Together, we are raising strong women of courage and persevance, ending violence through their economic empowerment.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President