A lot has changed in our corner of paradise over the last two months, as humanity faces a health challenge with adverse social, economical and political effects.
Despite Samoa being one of the small islands where COVID-19 has not yet touched, this does not make her immune to the effects of the pandemic.
SVSG recorded a 20% increase in domestic violence during the national State of Emergency due to unemployment and loss of business. Crimes of hunger, of desperation, and of struggle have kept the SVSG Help Line ringing like never before. A stressful environment of uncertainty and fear became the new norm.
But in the midst of all this catastrophe, we have seen the rise of women. Not just any women, but most notably, the empowered nofotane women.
Their hard work and perseverance have paid off. Because during this time of economic strife for most of our families, the earnings from the empowered nofotane women are now providing for families wellbeing, paying for the utilities while supporting the children’s education.
Those who have been working the land are harvesting in abundance. Paula Alatise, who is a nofotane woman of Samusu, had earned more than $1,000 this week from selling cucumbers. A 10-acre land is fully grown with vegetable and a plantation which now sustains this family’s source of income.
Another nofotane woman, Mareta Vaeagi of Siumu, have been selling baked taro, palusami and other food items 2 – 3 days a week, outside of SVSG’s office. Mareta is earning $150 - $200 a day from her food stall. She also sells vegetables in front of her house at Siumu.
And with tourism on a standstill, the locals are supporting the weavers and the crafters by continuing to buy from nofotane women such as Uaine Aumuavaa Taumaloto of Pata Falelatai, and her colorful fala masi, (woven mat) at $80 - $100 per mat depending on size and design.
Earlier this month, one of Uaine’s daughters Siatuolo was honored as the top student for the Diploma in Tourism Program at the National University of Samoa. According to Siatuolo, “it is through my mother’s weaving and encouragement that contribute to my achievement. She is a hard working mother; inspiring me to work harder.”
With the financial support of the European Union through the Civil Society Support Program, SVSG is once again working with nofotane women on a Program titled, Sustainable Income Generation & Self Employment of Nofotane Women. Over the next 2 years, the Program will help nofotane women like Paula Alatise, Mareta Vaegi, Uaine Taumaloto and many others who have been under SVSG’s Economic Empowerment Program, to improve on the quality and market opportunities of their products.
“There is no better time for the empowered nofotane woman to rise up and provide for her family’s wellbeing than here and now. It has been a joy to watch the women grow in confidence as breadwinners for their families, and we look forward to supporting them further in this new Project.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President