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DYWA cooking training program still ongoing

The Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs (DYWA), in collaboration with Origin Energy, the Department of Agriculture (DOA), and the Department of Commerce (DOC) continue to host the “Cooking Training for Women” which started on Monday, April 22, 2013. 


This is the third week of an eight-week program for Module 1, which is being held every week on Mondays and Wednesdays until June 12 at the old Election Office location, currently occupied by the Department of Education’s Career & Counseling Division Program. 


A total of thirty-four participants— 30 women and 4 men — have been divided into three groups as part of the cooking curriculum, and they have been attending the training sessions since the program’s inception. 


Ms. Maria Lemalu is conducting the training program with the assistance of Mrs. Maria Fonoti-Peretiso of DYWA. Lemalu is a graduate of the American Samoa Culinary Academy (ASCA), which was under the tutelage of American Samoa’s very own Chef Sualua Tupolo.


Fonoti-Peretiso graduated from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Community Education Training Center (CETC) in Suva, Fiji in 2010, and part of her training included baking, which fits well with the current cooking training. Her skills are being utilized to assist Lemalu. 


The ASCA was funded by the National Emergency Grant (NEG) funds, administered by the Department of Human Resources. DYWA Acting Director Pa’u Roy Taito Ausage pointed out that the recruitment of Lemalu specifically to conduct the cooking training accomplishes one of the goals of the NEG program — which is to train low income persons to acquire gainful employable skills.


Lemalu was unemployed after the completion of her training at the ASCA, but has since been employed on a temporary basis to provide cooking training.


According to Pa’u, “collaboration in program implementation is very beneficial, especially between the American Samoa Government and the private sector.” He added that Origin Energy has been a partner of DYWA since the tenure of former DYWA Director Leiataua Leuga A. Turner, “and we continue to work closely with Mr. Richard Young, Mr. Ethan Lake, and the staff of Origin Energy, who generously supply free cooking gas for the ovens, as well as aprons, and other necessary items.”


Pa’u explained that as one of the program partners, the Department of Agriculture under the directorship of Lealao Melila Purcell is graciously supporting the training program by providing a steady supply of fresh local produce, as most of the recipes used in the training utilize locally grown vegetables, fruits, and root crops. 


The Cooking Training Program kicked off last month and coincided with the arrival of renowned Chef Sam Choy of the Aloha State who visited the territory and performed cooking demonstrations, which afforded the public the opportunity to taste test some of the flavorful and nutritious dishes he had to offer using local ingredients. 


“The involvement of the Department of Commerce in this project as one of the partners is also important,” Pa‘u told Samoa News via email yesterday afternoon. “DOC Director Keniseli Faalupe Lafaele fully supports projects geared towards economic development, especially the kinds of projects that involve women and/or young entrepreneurs.”


Attending the training program doesn’t just mean the participants will gain experience and knowledge in sewing and cooking. There are even bigger and better benefits. According to Pa‘u, women attending the sewing and cooking training programs will be eligible to apply for micro loans with the Development Bank of American Samoa to start their very own small businesses like sewing shops and/or a small food catering stand, or even a restaurant. 


Pa’u said he believes “empowering local women with the skills of cooking is perceived as a contribution to economic development, and there is a huge opportunity for our women to enhance such skills and proceed to the next level by opening a small business that specializes in such area.”


For those women who couldn’t participate in the current program, there is good news! Another eight-week session is scheduled to be offered in late June for a different group of women to begin Module 1 while the current participants move on to Module 2.


Additionally, a special class will be held in July for interested youth, as part of the activities for the July Youth Month. (More information on that program will be published once everything is finalized).


All individuals interested in participating in the next set of training programs are encouraged to contact Maria Fonoti-Peretiso or Pa’u Roy T. Ausage at 633-2835 or 699-8519 for more information on how to register for the next class, which is set to begin next month on June 17.