Monday, June 15, 2009

Good week followed by an even better weekend

Sorry Mom, I just can’t sew.

Ministry of Women, Community, and Social Development (MWCSD) came to the village all last week to instruct a sewing clinic for the ladies of the village. The women finally got to make good use of the sewing machines we got from a grant I wrote to NZ High Commission. Some women knew how to use a sewing machine, while others did not. It was fun to see the progression of sewing throughout the week. Early in the week, people learned how to thread the needle and cut fabric patterns. By the end of the week the women had made all kinds of clothing: shirts, shorts, puletasi, skirts, etc. Most people started out with a puletasi or shorts since those are something they did by hand before. By the end of the week people were sewing shirts for their kids and husbands, dresses for the girls, and muumuus for grandma. I bought fabric with the intention of learning how to sew a puletasi. Well that was all fine and dandy, except no one really taught me how to do it. I think the fa’afafine teacher was a little peeved I didn’t know how to sew. She mostly did it for me because she didn’t want to waste time actually teaching me and having to redo everything I did wrong. This was a little frustrating, but then I figured who cares. I’m going back to the US in 14 months where I’m going to buy my clothes off a rack anyway, what good is it going to do me to know how to sew a puletasi? Also, the clinic was for the women of the village anyway, so it really was more important for them to get the instruction they needed. So sorry Mom, I still can’t sew. I did put some of the stitches in though and not all of them had to be redone. Friday we held a display of all the clothes everyone had made. TV1 came out and did a story on the event. I think the women were really excited for this and were really proud of themselves. They had a stereo going and sang to the songs. It was comical to see the women crooning on the microphones like they were Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. There was of course dancing and they made me dance even though I can’t siva Samoa. The village wants me to be the village taupou (unmarried girl, usually by Samoan custom a virgin who is singled out for her charm, looks, and manners, with the duty of mixing the ava and opening and closing a fiafia) but I don’t know why they want me to hold this position. I don’t know how to properly mix the ava or siva Samoa and those are two really important tasks of being a taupou. Oh well, it is flattering I guess when they tell me to make the ava for a matai meeting or when they have a special guest come (like my Dad; oh yes, I made the ava for him too). Anyway, the clinic was a huge success and I’m glad to have a good project finally completed.

The Manu Samoa

After the weeklong sewing clinic I decided I deserved a little reward. I caught a ride into Apia with the Ministry of Women people, took care of some business, and then went to the Manu Samoa vs Junior All Blacks game. This was awesome! Manu Samoa is the national rugby team of Samoa and named after a famous warrior chief from Sapunaoa (the village right next door to me). The Junior All Blacks are the second string of the world famous All Blacks, the national team of New Zealand. Being a typical American, I don’t really have a clue about rugby and neither did Benj, Casey, or Kate who went with me. We get the general idea of the game, but the rules and intricacies of the game we miss because well, how many people in the US actually watch rugby? Not many, in fact I had no idea until about two months ago the US has an international rugby team. But for 10 Tala, we got great seats, covered and pretty close to the field. We watched with great interest the Junior All Blacks perform their haka and the Manu Samoa do the tau Samoa; how many professional sports teams do you know which perform a war dance before they take the field? (click the link above to watch a video of the war dances, really awesome) The Manu didn’t play very well the first half, but the second half was really exciting. Manu Samoa came back with scores and was only down one point. The last 15 minutes was incredible. Manu Samoa kept driving and were so close to scoring. Unfortunately, they couldn’t pull out the upset and lost 16-17. It was a great game and so exciting to hear the crowd roar with support of the Manu Samoa. I can’t wait to watch another Manu Samoa game, hopefully I can watch a Manu Samoa vs All Blacks and see how the Manu Samoa do against the A team.

This feels like a weekend soccer tournament!

After I got back from Apia, I went over to the neighboring village of Sapunaoa to watch our village boys take on theirs in rugby. I figured this was just going to be a small, two village event. I was wrong; it ended up being a six village affair and tons of people were there. When I got there, Matatufu and Satalo were playing. Next game was Saleilua vs Salani. Then came our boys. It was a great game. I heard a rumor that Sapunoa gets players from Manu Samoa to play for them even if they aren’t related to the village. This tends to not sit well with our boys apparently, so this was a big game. Our boys were leading most of the game, but a big push in the second half gave Sapunaoa a 20-14 lead. Our boys needed another score, plus the two extra points to win. They drove hard and tried to push their way in, but the clock ran out on them. They played really well though and I’m proud of my boys. As in most rival sports games, fans tend to get out of hand after the game. About two minutes after the end of the game, a big fight broke out. I have no idea what the cause of it was, but you know how tempers flare at sporting events. My women were protecting me though. They are funny like that. I was walking with Siniva and Fuataiina. They both took my hands and got really close, trying to shelter me from anything that might go wrong. We were a ways a way when the actual fighting was going on; I only saw one punch thrown since most of my view of the fiasco was blocked. The fight was broken up by the time we walked that way (and we had to go that way to go home), but Siniva and Fuataiina still felt the need to be body guards. It was cute actually; they weren’t going to let anything happen to me while I was in their company.

I got a really odd feeling as I was watching the games. It felt just like so many soccer tournaments I participated in during my soccer days. People were sitting on the grass all around the field or in cars pulled up next to the field, people were selling food (nothing like you would find in the States, no pizza, hotdogs or candy, but chips, rice, & taro…the Samoan equivalent), people were huddled in the shade, had umbrellas or the Samoan equivalent…an ie. The crowd cheered loudly when their team scored and would tease the opposition around them (ok to do since they are most likely cousins anyway). It was fun; I think the village really enjoyed seeing me out there supporting our boys too.


  1. All Great Shots !...

    Ciao from Italy

  2. Erica:

    I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Bolivia, '66-'68), and founder and COO of Water Charity, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that does water, sanitation, and public health projects worldwide. We have just started a new initiative, Appropriate Projects, to fund small water and sanitation projects very quickly.

    Please check out our website at and submit an application. Even though you don't work in water/san, you may want to do a small project at a community facility, clinic, or school. It could be something simple, such as piping, fixtures, water storage, or some other needed improvement.

    If you have any questions about the appropriateness of a project, just ask.

    Could you pass this message on to your fellow-PCVs in Samoa?

    If you like what we do, could you tell others in your social networks about us?

    Thanks. I wish you the best of luck in your work.

    Averill Strasser

    Appropriate Projects

    Water Charity