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11th sewing session of Lalaga Faatasi set to begin

The 11th session of the 13-week rehabilitative and recovery program known as the Lalaga Fa’atasi Sewing Project spearheaded by the Department of Youth and Womens Affairs (DYWA) in partnership with the Criminal Justice Planning Agency (CJPA) is set to start on June 10.


Last Tuesday, the 10th session of the program ended with a total of 26 women successfully completing the program. Their achievements were recognized during a special ceremony held at the Department of Agriculture's Samoan Fale in Tafuna. The  project coordinator is Arasi Fa’amausili and So’onaalofa Roberts is the sewing instructor.


The Lalaga Fa'atasi Sewing Project has been active since 2008, serving the territory's women by providing sewing training with the goal that these women will open up sewing shops of their own, and have the ability to sew clothes for themselves and their families, hence saving them money.


While the sewing program was initially set up for women only, DYWA began accepting men who had expressed interest in the program and at least ten have graduated since the program's inception.


Earlier this year on Feb. 12, DYWA kick started its tenth session of the program, which is free of charge, with DYWA providing sewing machines, fabrics/materials, and other necessary items required to effectively conduct the training. For additional sewing practice, participants were asked to provide their own fabric to sew different clothing, outside of the curriculum.


Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga says there is a need to include the Director of the Department of Commerce and the President of the Development Bank of American Samoa in the loop, so they can look at ways to assist the sewing program participants in developing small business ventures, like opening up small sewing shops that will create local jobs and ultimately stimulate the economy. 


He referred to the obvious increase in local sewing shops being owned and operated mostly by foreign immigrants like Filipinos, and said having programs like the Lalaga Fa'atasi Sewing Project is a great way to encourage more locals to get into the sewing business, so there will be no need to bring foreigners in to do the job.


The Governor wants to conduct an advanced sewing class for the graduates of the Tenth Lalaga Fa'atasi Project and all previous graduates of the sewing project. Exactly when the advanced courses will begin will be announced as soon as the curriculum is developed. 


In an email to the Samoa News, DYWA Acting Director Pa’u Roy Taito Ausage wrote, "DYWA continues to serve as an avenue for men and women to network and develop relationships with others who share common interests and skills. The sewing program affords each participant the chance to share ideas as well as creativity of their sewing skills with one another. The participants convey a sense of pride in their work, and display competitiveness with each other as they create and display their fine work in sewing."


Pa'u explained that the sewing class participants are taught basic sewing skills "in order for them to sew for themselves and/or their families, and simultaneously assist their neighbors and other members of the community."


DYWA's Ramona Toeaina acknowledged the role of First Lady Cynthia M. Moliga who was the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) program coordinator in 2008 with DYWA and who started the first sewing class. 


Feedback from previous participants are nothing but positive, with the women pointing to the impact the knowledge they gained will have on their family and livelihood. The women are quick to point out that completing the sewing course will not only help them financially through saving money by sewing their own clothing and not having to pay an expensive seamstress, but it also gives them the chance to earn some extra money by sewing for their family members and friends. 


In addition to the sewing sessions offered to the men and women of the territory, DYWA continues to offer the TCF-RSAT Rehabilitative Sewing Program to six inmates at the Tafuna Correctional Facility.  In addition to the modules taught, DYWA has added the ‘ie so’oso’o (quilt), and also the leis which were on Sunday during the Annual Mother’s Day Service this year.


All these wonderful programs are being funded by the Criminal Justice Planning Agency under the VAWA Rehabilitative and Recovery Program.


All men and women who are interested in the program and want more information on how to register are encouraged to call DYWA directly at 633-2835 to register.