SENESE Storytelling competition draws record entries

Winner of the 6-9 year old category Aaron Alesana with SENESE Officer In Charge  Mike Mahimkar and Board member Seu’ula

Press Release -SENESE

APIA: WEDNESDAY 18 JUNE 2014: Twenty three groups and individuals were rewarded at the prize-giving of the SENESE storytelling competition today at the TATTE building Sogi.

The competition was organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, mission and private schools and the community, and this is the 4th year in which SENESE has coordinated this initiative.

Imagining a path to equality for people with disabilities, was the theme of this year’s SENESE storytelling competition. The entrants were challenged to imagine what positive changes a Prime Minister would implement to achieve the positive inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities.

Officer in charge at SENESE, Mr Mahendra Mahimkar says whilst the competition has been running for four consecutive years, the focus remains the same.

“The purpose is to capture stories of change as the community becomes more and more aware about encouraging the total inclusion of persons with disabilities and their God-given right to be included in all aspects of the community.

“This year has seen a record number of entries being submitted, from 68 last year to an overwhelming 337,” Mahimkar says.

The winners are from as far as Vaisala and Lano in Savaii and Sa’anapu and Solosolo in Upolu.

Guest Speaker, Apulu Lance Polu of Talamua Media – a broadcaster, story teller and journalist said “story telling must be incorporated into the teaching and delivery in the classroom as it is so natural to us as its a major fabric of our culture.”

Mahimkar acknowledges that there is more to be done in order to raise awareness of disability rights in the community, yet there is a recognised shift in mentality from segregation to inclusion for persons with disabilities.

“Some schools, like Solosolo Primary School could not wait to boast about how pro-inclusion they are of people with disabilities that they produced a mini-drama which you will get to see at the end of the prize-giving.

Rev Lotu Uele from CCCS Vaiala hands over prize for Geobra Crawley.

Rev Lotu Uele from CCCS Vaiala hands over prize for Geobra Crawley.

“As people who work at the grassroots level, with schools and with the community, to promote the rights of children with disabilities to be included, it warms our hearts to see many children and adults alike, warming up to the idea of equal opportunities for all people with disabilities in all aspects of life,” said Mahimkar.

“I would like to think, that activities such as SENESE storytelling competition, on the pathways to equal opportunities for people with disabilities, contributes to the awareness we all must have of disability rights, as Samoa prepares to sign the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities later this year.”

The competition winners in four categories.

6-9 years – Written Category
1st place- Aaron Alesana, 9 years old, Apia Primary School,2nd Epenesa Olofatu, 9 years old, Lano Primary School, 3rd Geobra Crawley, 8 years old, Apia Primary School, 4th Senetenari Taofia, 8 years old, Vaisala Primary School,5th Mareko Tasimilo, 9 years old, Solosolo Primary School

10-14 years – Written Category
1st place- Wendy Tupuola, 13 years old, Adventist College,2nd- Nina Taylor, 12 years old, Apia Primary School,2nd – Lisi Malia Pereira, 12 years old, Samoa Primary,3rd – Junior Solomona, 13 years old, Apia Primary, 4th – Tuli Fotulupe, 11 years old, Saanapu Primary,5th – Tuiala Mamoe, 12 years old, Vaisala Primary ,5th – Lanu Fiti, 12 years old, Saanapu Primary

10-14 years – Visual category
1st place- Solosolo Primary School

15-18 years – Written Category
1st place- Taimata Lekaisa, 17 years old, Tuasivi College,2nd – Tafea Sio Lui, 15 years old, Malua-fou College, 3rd- Misluepa Si’iva’a, 16 years old, Amoa College

15-18 years – Visual category
SENESE Fa’atuatua Deaf Class

Open Category
1st place- Sosopo Le’apai, Savaia Lefaga, 2nd – Iunita Iosua, Solosolo Primary, 3rd – Selina Tautogi, Solosolo Primary, 4th – Tafaoimalo Falo Solia, Solosolo Primary, 5th – Folola Atonio, Solosolo Primary.