Initiative changing one village at a time
April 26, 2017- Mary Kevu recalls the days before the ‘Simbo for Change- Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative as a constant struggle for Simbo women to earn money and support their families.
Women sold copra, megapode eggs and fresh produce at the Gizo Market a two and half hour boat trip from home, often leaving their families for days.
The Initiative better known as Simbo for Change is a partnership between the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP), members of the Madegugusu Women’s Association (MWA), a development entrepreneur on Simbo Island- Esther Suti and the Samoa Women in Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI). It aims to advance women’s economic empowerment and, in the process, address issues of gender roles and family safety on Simbo.
One of the spinoffs of the Simbo for Change Initiative is improved waste management on the island. MWA members and their families conducted clean up campaigns in preparation for organic certification of their gardens.
Mary attributes the cleanliness of the villages and the island as a whole to Simbo for Change Initiative and says she and others are proud to show visitors around the island.
Despite the positive feedback from the members of the MWA about Simbo for Change, there has been some resistance to the initiative. In each of Simbo’s four villages there are women who have set up their own organisation to run savings clubs and other activities and do not participate in the communal waste management program.
“We have some challenges and at times I cry as people say things but I tell them I will make the sacrifices to keep the village clean for all of us, said Mary. “We will continue to make Simbo a better place and develop it not only for the Madegugusu Women’s Association members but for everybody. that its what is in our hearts, so we accept whatever challenges that comes. I hope one day they will understand.”
The Member of Parliament for Ranonga-Simbo, Hon. Charles Sigoto has hailed Simbo as the model island in his constituency, in terms of community self help, women’s savings initiative that have led to contributions to the National Provident Fund and waste management.