What legacy will I leave my children?
This was the question that sums up the progress of the nofotane women entrepreneurs of Falevao, Falefa, Faleapuna, Lufilufi, Lona and Uafato, during the Self Esteem Workshop at Anoamaa this week. The workshop is part of a 2 year Sustainable Income Generation Project for the nofotane women by the Samoa Victim Support Group with financial assistance from the European Union.
The twenty five (25) nofotane women who attended the workshop took the word ‘sustainability’ literally to the next level. Testimonies and small businesses being set up speak volume of the women’s perseverance and hard work. From being unemployed nofotane women survivors of violence to being self employed nofotane women breadwinners, is a milestone achievement on continuing work to address gender equality in Samoa.
Most obvious is the women’s efforts to sustain a better future for their children by teaching them the livelihood skills, the mindset, and the value of hard work. This is the kind of impression the empowered nofotane women wanted to leave on their children.
Matile Alapati, a 21 year old mother of Falevao shared on her mother’s legacy of hard work that speaks well into her future today. Two weeks ago, Matile’s mother, the late Alisa Sani Faamatuainu passed on. Alisa was a nofotane woman from Aufaga, who stayed on at her husband’s family at Faleavao and looked after their 9 children even after her husband had passed. When the Nofotane Program came to Falevao in 2018, Alisa was one of the star earners, mastering the art of design and fabric painting which she utilized as her main income generating activity.
According to Matile, “I consented to tell my story to honor my dearest mother and to inspire other young women like me to learn from your mothers while you have the chance.” Matile is continuing the family business of designing and fabric painting with most of their products being sold at the SNPF Plaza, earning $400 - $500 a week. “Despite my parents passing, I am grateful that my mother taught me the value of hard work and the skills to be self employed, which now enables me to support my siblings education and raise my own young family.”
The rest of the 25 self employed nofotane women at the workshop related to Matile’s story, as each shared on how their economic empowerment had enabled them to leave something for their children to be passed down from generation to generation.
Even the Inspirational Speaker, Unaite Feesago of Lufilufi had lived a tough life, hence encouraged the participants not to give up easily. “We have come a long way from the struggling life of an unemployed nofotane woman. Remember, we are now facing different challenges as a business woman, and as a full time mother. The trick is in perserverance. Don’t ever give up as your children’s lives depend on you now.”
At the end of the 2-day session, we were overwhelmed by the transformation we’ve seen and the vibrant energy of the nofotane women as they joyfully shared on their journey of empowerment.
Siliniu Lina Chang, the President of SVSG therefore acknowledges the funding assistance for this project provided by the European Union (EU) through the Civil Society Support Program (CSSP). “Thank you for helping us make a difference in the lives of the nofotane women under this Program.”