Pictured: Participants and staff of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development at the Small Business Training conducted at the Maota o Pulenuu from the 23rd to 27th January, 2017. The training is part of the National Youth Week programme.

Theme: Youth Leading Sustainability for Vulnerable Families
Tupulaga Talavou ma Atinae Gafataulimaina mo Aiga Ma’ale’ale

The National Youth Week is a Government initiative that started in the 1990s through the former Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, as a part of Samoa Sports.  The initiative’s main objective, to celebrate and commemorate achievements of young people and their contribution to the development of families, villages, churches and the country, has remained for over twenty years.  Unfortunately, it has been over fifteen years since the last program focused solely on Savaii and an official opening ceremony was held at the big island.

The program for the Samoa National Youth Week 2017 started with a Small Business Training conducted at the Maota o Pulenuu from the 23rd to 27th January, 2017.  Conducted by the Small Business Enterprise Center (SBEC) and funded by the DFAT Australia sponsored Samoa Women Shaping Development Project (SWSD) and the Samoa One UN Youth Employment Project (UNDP – YEP), six vulnerable families were trained on operating small businesses.  These six families will be supported through “Start Up funds” for resources and training to a total of $3,500.00 tala.  The projects/small businesses include vegetable gardens, catering and handicrafts.  The families are now working closely with SBEC and the MWCSD to ensure sustainability of their businesses and to address issues contributing to their vulnerability – whether they are social, economical, environmental, or others.  These six families are important partners/clients of the Small Business Incubator without walls concept.

The official opening of the Samoa National Youth Week was held at Salelologa at the Women’s Community Center on 30th January, 2017.  The program started with welcoming remarks by the Associate Minister of the MWCSD – Afioga Tofa Lio Foleni.  Reverend Pou Tuigamala of Salelologa AOG led the program with inspiring words of wisdom for the more than 100 young people and participants to look after their families and develop both spiritual and physical capacities to sustain development of villages, churches, their own family and the nation.

The keynote address was delivered by the Honorable Minister for the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Faimalotoa Kika Iemaima Stowers.  The Minister congratulated the young people of Samoa and especially Savaii for patiently waiting for many years for the opening of this important national event.  The Minister pointed out that truly, what is good for Upolu, is also sweet in Savaii.

The Minister then shared her thoughts on the theme of the Week, and articulated that sustainability and vulnerability are the most important part of the week long commemoration – referring to a number of examples and experiences.  The Honorable Minister challenged the young people to engage their time, strength, abilities and resources in sustainable means, whether it is in the environment, plantation, the ocean, or amongst their colleagues and peers in their own social groups.  Faimalotoa then alluded to the contributions of the four young people from Gataivai, Auala, Matavai – Safune and Puapua – who are taking the lead in initiatives that sustain their communities.  Faimalotoa also mentioned that through the assistance of their villages and families, and the technical assistance of the Ministry’s partners and stakeholders, these four young people’s projects will provide means to alleviate the economic vulnerability of their respective communities and families.

Alama Ta’ala (Puapua), Talafiti Paiaaua (Matavai), Sueni Tau (Auala) and Sefo Faitotoa (Gataivai) are already working with their respective villages on initiatives relating to waste management, mangrove and coastal replanting.  They will be supported through recycling projects that will generate income for their families and villages.

The Acting Chief Executive Officer for the MWCSD, Lealaisalanoa Tifitifi Uitimē Fetu in her closing remarks acknowledged with sincere gratitude all the assistance of this week’s program.  These included the One UN YEP, SWSD – DFAT Australia, Government of Samoa, MNRE, SPREP, Samoa Qualifications Authority and others.

The program will continue with training for waste management and recycling for Puapua on Tuesday, 31st January, 2017 and then Matavai on Wednesday, 1st February, 2017.  The program will close on Thursday, 2nd February, 2017 at 9am with specific training on waste management and recycling by trainers from MNRE, Samoa Qualifications Authority and others.  These training and demonstrations will be closely observed by representatives of six selected youth groups from Salelologa village.

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