Monday, March 30, 2009


I finally might have accomplished something real. I got word a few weeks ago that books are on the way. Yea!!! Finally, I can start on the library for the school. I’m very excited about this project. It’s a big relief to know the waiting has paid off. I know the library will be very small, but that is ok. At least the kids will have some books for resources for help with homework and also some pleasure reading. I also got word the grant I wrote for sewing machines for the women’s committee was successful; another thing where patience has paid off. All this couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been getting a little depressed thinking that in the seven months as a volunteer I’ve done nothing. So now I will have something to keep me busy and raise my spirits. I’m not sure when all this stuff will get to my village, but hopefully within a month. I’m very excited for all this. I’m hoping it will give me a little more respect in the village and have people trust that the young girl can do something for the village. In the mean time, I’m keeping myself busy with the MPA. I’m up to 100 species identified and I know there is a whole bunch of species which haven’t come out to say hi to me yet. This is ok; it means I still have lots of monitoring, otherwise known as snorkeling, to do.

Liz came out for a visit the other week. We took the bus over to Togitogiga Waterfalls in Pupu-Pu’e National Park. This was really fun. We’d both forgotten how nice it feels to swim in freshwater. The water was cool and clean, so refreshing. We jumped in the pools down from the upper falls and relaxed in the cold water. I climbed up the rocks where the falls are and played in the rushing water of the waterfall, feeling the power of the spray. I even jumped in the pool where the lower falls are from the pool of the upper falls, but didn’t have the guts to jump from all the way up. I thought about it, but the rock jutting out made me nervous. And although I am the adventurous type who rarely ever backs out of daring things like that, I didn’t really want to go to the hospital that day and even more so didn’t want to explain to our PC nurse what stupid thing I did to crack my skull open. The look of disappointment which surely would have crossed her face was enough to make me not jump. It was a fun day and no trip to the hospital, so in the end it was a positive decision.

The village had its Fa’aMati last week as well. I didn’t attend the actual event because I was busy, but from what I was understand the women weave mats and on the Fa’aMati day they are given to the pastor and other churches. I saw the mats when they were displayed the day before, and some of the fine mats were really spectacular. Each member of the women’s committee had to make a laufala (fine mat), a papa laufala (sitting mat, light colored), and a papa malo (sitting mat, dark colored). Laufala is the name of the plant used to weave these mats. The leaves of the laufala plant are shaped like a single leaf of a palm tree, long and tapered, only start out wider. The leaves are much stiffer and have sharp, little spikes on the edges of the leaves. The leaves are cut off the plant, the sharp edges are taken off, and then the leaves are dried in the sun, which makes them light in color. Then strips are cut and used to make mats. The width of the strips can vary from 2 cm to a few millimeters. Sitting mats are made from strips about 2 cm, while fine mats made from strips only a few millimeters wide are considered the highest quality and will sell for thousands of Tala (these fine mats are called ie toga). The fine mats are used for fa’alavelaves (weddings, church openings, funerals, births, etc). The mats the women made were more like sleeping mats. The strip width was about half a centimeter and on the borders of the fine mat were different colors of yarn. In the old days instead of yarn there would be bird feathers, but now usually you see the yarn, every once in a while a fine mat will be made with feathers, but usually fake feathers you see in craft stores back home. Some had dyed laufala weaved into patterns. It takes a lot of skill to do this weaving. I have joined the women in weaving few times but have never done one with dyed laufala. You have to have a lot of experience to know how to weave these kinds of mats. I was quite impressed with some of the women in the village.

1 comment:

  1. Hey you! I want you to stop all that "I've done nothing as a volunteer in 7 months" talk because it is just not true! I know its hard to see now, but in those 7 months people have begun to trust you and believe in you. You have built relationships with the people in your village and you wont be able to really see that until something comes along where you will need them to trust in your judgement and they will without a second thought. Seven months ago, that would not have happened. Keep your head up. Things dont really start rolling until 10 months in anyway and then it is just chaos. So sit back, relax, read a good book and enjoy togitogia (silent tear, God I miss that place)! You are a rock star Erica from America dont let anyone tell you different!