DYWA graduates its 11th sewing class
On Wednesday, Sept. 18 the eleventh graduating class of the sewing program offered by the Department of Youth and Women's Affairs (DYWA) gathered to celebrate their achievements in the presence of families and friends. The graduating class included 25 women and two men.
The ceremony started off with a short devotion offered by Hana Tuavela, wife of the District Director of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church of AS who was also a participant of the sewing class. Tuavela said, “there is a time for everything — talent used is talent multiplied." She emphasized the savings the families of the participants will have by sewing their own clothes.
Tauamanuvao Leonard Seumanutafa, Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Planning Agency in his remarks said, “this is a service provided by the government to assist the people of American Samoa." The sewing classes began back in 2008 to assist local women in many ways. The classes are a collaboration between DYWA and the CJPA which provides funding under the Violence Against Women Act.
In addition to sewing, Tauamanuvao suggested that DYWA look into making coconut sandals for the women to sell to visiting tourists.
Sewing instructor Soonaalofa Roberts, in addressing her third graduating class, kept it short and simple by saying to the graduates, “what you sow is what you reap."
Esau Matau, one of the two male graduates, represented the graduating class and began by thanking the DYWA and CJPA for "this great program."
He said that in addition to being a father, he is also an electrician, carpenter, and plumber. He pointed out the importance of husbands and wives sharing the load of chores at home and said women shouldn't be the only ones to learn how to sew, men should also learn how to sew to assist their wives at home.
Matau said it doesn't make sense for him to work hard, only to give away money to pay for his family's sewing. He said the class is an opportunity to learn a new skill and it costs nothing. "Sewing is an art in designing beautiful clothes to make your wife and family members look pretty," he said. His words of advice to the graduates: “don’t be stingy with your talent. Use your God-given talent."
He then asked the acting DYWA Director for his assistance in getting them small loans so they can start their own small businesses.
In response, Pa'u Fuiavailiili Roy Taito Ausage explained he has connected with the Samoa Business Development Cooperation, whom he has sought assistance from, to see if they are able to extend the assistance they are offering the women in Samoa to the women in Tutuila. The SBDC is funded by the World Bank and the United Nations, but American Samoa is not under the umbrella of the United Nations, according to Pa'u.
Amy Tanielu, a housewife from Vailoa said she decided to attend the sewing class to assist her family financially. The cost of the sewing shops are too expensive for her family, she pointed out, adding that the class will equip her with the skills needed to sew her family's clothes.
Her advice to the general public: “If you have nothing to do, come and make good use of this program. It is free and it can assist your family financially."
Peter Faumuina, the only other male graduate said, “I attended this sewing class to teach myself how to sew to help with my family’s budget, save money, and to stop my family’s money from going out to the sewing shops."
Currently, DYWA has three ongoing programs for local women.
In addition to the sewing class, there are also classes for cooking and flower arranging. Soon, the department will be launching its first elei class. "This is a way to have the territory's women come together to learn a new skill to assist their families and to share their feelings on issues they face at home, at church, in the village, and with associates they are affiliated with," said Pa'u. "The DYWA looks at these classes as therapy for these women."
All classes offered by the DYWA are open to the public and free of charge.
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