2020 has definitely been interesting with coronavirus disrupting most of the year and changing our idea of normalcy. Working closely with the community, it was evident the toll coronavirus had on Samoa’s citizens, with the state of emergency restrictions, there was nothing much we could do in terms of socializing and community interaction. The mothers could no longer attend bingo and other public events, the children not present for Sunday school activities and many fathers were left jobless.
In order to try and make things eventful, I planned a walk once a week on Saturdays for anyone who wanted to attend, we would walk up our local mountain and then back down before doing a bit of Zumba in our EFKS Leulumoega community hall. The goal of this was to get everyone out of their houses to at least get some fresh air, stretch, get active and gave us a chance to check on every individual’s wellbeing.
To my surprise, a vast number of attenders were present for our first walk; we had mothers ranging from young to old, children and even fathers present. It was successful not only because of the good turnout but also because there was so much joy being shared amongst us. With this, a health initiative was born. Participants were willing to do more than just walking. Ideas were raised regarding a weight loss challenge, education on the importance of a healthy and balanced diet and the involvement in different sport competitions that were available.
We started off with a 10-week weight loss challenge where we would be weighed after each week and those with the most weight lost will be rewarded. After 10 weeks, we hosted a celebratory event to congratulate the efforts put in by each individual. Prizes consisted of phones, credit vouchers, bags and more were given out together with a message of encouragement and praise. After our 10-week challenge, everyone still wanted to continue as they stated they were feeling better not just physically but also mentally. We therefore entered a cricket competition hosted by the Samoa cricket association where we won a few awards, it may not have been the award for coming first but awards such as team spirit and most organized team were received.
After white Sunday, we had a camp for mothers to strengthen bonds within and between each member. We had a few people from the hospital come and educate us on the importance of healthy living. The EFKS Leulumoega Mafutaga Tina currently have two teams joining the netball tournament that will be happening over the next 6 weeks. In hindsight, we thought coronavirus would affect our community negatively, but after much evaluation, I have come to realize that a few good things have come out of it.
Nevertheless, starting a health initiative is far from easy, resources, support and prizes are needed in order for a successful outcome. The majority if not all of our sponsorship was provided by the amazing Vodafone Samoa. We reached out to them in early March in hopes they would provide some sort of assistance in which they did not hesitate to. They understood early on the importance of our program and supported us not only monetarily to pay for bus fares, prizes, entry fees and team uniforms but with great sincerity and cooperation making it a much easier process.
Most of the mothers of Leulumoega have expressed their gratitude for this program, they feel renewed and motivated to continue with their exercises and restricted diets. Throughout the program, we have gained a few more participants including but not limited to the members of Leulumoega EFKS. Participants have also claimed they look forward to our events as it is a good chance to interact with each other and with our netball tournament, it’s something to look forward to as we often don’t get to go to town.
I would like to thank Vodafone Samoa for their continuous support towards our health initiative, thank you to the Samoa cricket association and the Netball Samoa association and I would also like to extend my thank you to the people of Leulumoega Tuai. This wouldn’t have been possible without you all.