by Tania Ahmed
APIA: After weeks of anticipation around Samoa Challenge II, the winners were revealed at an award ceremony held in Moto’otua Monday this week.
Showing solidarity, teams marched out of buses and vans representing their village in coordinated lava lavas and puletasis. Everyone was ready to celebrate their individual successes and find out the final results.
Asau Samoa Challenge II team are the champions on Savai’i. They raced to the top with 12 women reaching one or more of the three health goals. On Upolu, Savaia tipped the scale, charging ahead with half of the team achieving one or more of the health goals.
Asau women were beaming after hearing the news, feeling energised and emotional. Representing her team Vifata from Asau was lost for words saying, ‘I can’t explain how happy we feel to have won Samoa Challenge II. We didn’t expect it’. Through the program she has lost five kilos and believes the ‘competitive spirit’ of the contest helped her succeed.
Fuelling the victory buzz in the air, Faimea from Savaia, who lost seven kilos says she is ‘ready to celebrate and party’ when she returns to her village. Faimea was a shining star in her team. Each week she amazed herself when she stepped on the scales realising she lost weight.
As she proudly pats her stomach she says, ‘Before I ate too much food and could not walk or move easily. Now I am more flexible, happy and I feel great’.
She surprised herself again with her team’s victory. ‘We got a shock and feel so overwhelmed with emotion hearing we won,’ says Faimea.
Kaelin, Savaia team mentor triumphantly says,’ I’m very proud of the women. It was 10 weeks of hard work. They stuck with the program even when it was hard’.
In true Samoa Challenge II spirit, the Samalae’ulu team got everyone’s feet tapping at the ceremony with their signature ‘Wakawaka’ jazzercise performance that took Savai’i by storm for the last 10 weeks.
Certificates of achievement were presented to each participant. A prize package containing a volleyball net, soccer ball, sound system, exercise CDs, seedlings and Samoa Challenge II champion branded lava lavas was awarded to each winning team. All items to help teams maintain their healthy lifestyle into the future.
Great heights were reached in Samoa Challenge II. In total 56 women’s lives were transformed through weight loss, waist/hip size and blood pressure reduction over the ten weeks.
While the champions should be praised for their determination and consistent performance, the positive change created by each woman in the competition must be equally celebrated and recognised.
For many, it meant trading much loved corned beef for fresh fish, or waking up early to walk instead of sleeping, all
big adjustments to make and maintain.
Stay tuned for Samoa Challenge III set for mid-end next year.
Samoa Challenge II is a health program initiated by Women in Business, Samoa Red Cross and U.S Peace Corps. The program was funded by various donors through the U.S State department and Peace Corps Partnership program.
Support was also provided by University of Pittsburgh to adapting the program for Samoa.
* Tania is an Australian Youth Ambassador working for the Samoa Red Cross