The U.S. Embassy Apia’s 2016 Public Diplomacy Grants Recipients
APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2016: From identifying cocoa cultivars to watching young peoples’ diet and weight to developing young Samoan rugby players, is how wide the scope of projects that today received funding under the U.S. Embassy Apia Public Diplomacy Grant.
The US Chargé d’Affaires Ms. Angelina Wilkinson said it was an extremely competitive process and congratulated each organization for their perseverance in securing funding for their projects. She reiterated that Samoa and the United States share a lot of important values like the values of democracy, religious freedom, fair economic opportunity, and human rights to name a few. The individual projects re listed below.
- Scientific Research Organization of Samoa (SROS) – “Identifying cocoa cultivars through DNA sequencing”
The quality of the cocoa product produced in Samoa is heavily dependent on the cocoa variety, and with the extensive cross breeding of cocoa varieties that occurs naturally, the resulting cultivars are now a mixture of both favorable and unfavorable cocoa varieties. Consequently, the morphological descriptors that were previously used to identify cocoa varieties are no longer valid. The U.S. Embassy Apia will be assisting SROS in identifying local cocoa cultivars through DNA sequencing. This will help assist our local farmers in identifying their cocoa cultivars, and facilitating the selection of high quality cocoa for value adding, exports and sales. Together with specific monitoring of morphological and phenotypical descriptors, the project should result in the production of a new system for the physical classification of Samoan local cocoa cultivars.
- SNYC (Samoa National Youth Council) – “International Youth Day 2016”
The celebration of International Youth Day was held in Apia in 2015. This year, the Samoa National Youth Council anticipates hosting the International Youth Day in the big island of Savaii. The hope is to ensure that Savaii gets the chance to experience this wonderful festivity. Through this funding SNYC will conduct a two day event to engage youth in Savaii to create innovative artistic products that reflect the theme “The road to 2030: Eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable production or consumption.”
The overall objectives include:
1. Increased skills of youth in entrepreneurship and enhanced understanding on small business initiatives;
2. Increased awareness and advocacy of the cultural and creative industries;
3. Strengthened engagement between youth and parents towards peaceful conflict resolution;
4. Community engagement on supporting youth initiatives.
The workshops will also include sessions between the registered youths and parents to mentor on the importance of investing in the chosen careers of youth, how to support youth into careers and most importantly educating the mindset of the youth on hard work, good work ethics and so forth.
- Nobesity Samoa – “The Nobesity Samoa Sugar-Free Week”
Nobesity Samoa was set up in 2015 to support the efforts by the Ministry of Health and other organizations in promoting a healthy Samoa. It specifically targets youth, and raises awareness on healthy living via different activities. Physical activity is promoted through fun exercises three times a week and a nutrition component that ensures children learn about healthy eating.
Nobesity Samoa’s mission is to raise awareness amongst children and youth about the importance of healthy living. The project’s objective is to educate on the dangers of overeating natural and processed sugars while at the same time promoting healthier and nutritious alternatives.
The Embassy’s support will go directly to ‘The Nobesity Samoa Sugar-Free Week’ which is composed of several activities throughout a week using approaches and methodologies already used by Nobesity Samoa but at a wider scale. The series of events and activities will highlight the dangers of overeating sugar but also provide healthier alternatives. The main event of this week will be the dedication of one day to cutting out all forms of sugar from their diet, as a symbolic act ending a week of educating children and youth.
- Samoa Alliance of Media Practitioners for Development (SAMPOD) – “Reporting on sensitive issues involving women and minority groups”
Recent insensitive incidents have brought the issue of “Reporting on sensitive issues involving women and minority groups” to the forefront as one that is integral to the development of the media. The Embassy’s assistance will fund workshops for media personnel on how to carry out responsible gender sensitive reporting on sensitive issues against women and minority groups (including LBGTQI)for all media personnel. The purpose of the proposed workshop is to orientate key media outlets on how to report on gender based violence and issues in a responsible and respectful manner. The participants will include various media professionals covering reporting, editing, presenting and camera work. The resource people will include informed individuals from local and international organizations.
- Rugby Academy Samoa (RAS)
Rugby Academy Samoa (RAS) is a non-profit organization that came into life to develop young local rugby talents in the county. Its main purpose is to provide another option, an opportunity and a life line for the youth of Samoa to play professional rugby overseas. The mindset and the cornerstone behind this new professional establishment is for the Academy to bridge the gap between professional rugby and rugby in Samoa. Funds from the Embassy’s Small Grants scheme will go towards RAS’s community project which focuses on using rugby skills and knowledge as a vehicle to a better life. The project objectives are developing rugby skills and recovery habits in a managed and fun environment. The project consists of teaching the appropriate rugby drills to different age groups, playing tag rugby games, teaching recovery methods and providing mentoring sessions. These activities will help create opportunities and foster community engagement as well as develop the kids to be better.
- Samoa Fa’afafine Association (SFA) – “Samoa’s Annual Fa’afafine and National Fa’afafine Week”
Samoa Fa’afafine Organization (SFA) is a non-profit incorporated society that promotes the rights and interests of Fa’afafine in Samoa. Historically, SFA has been the sole advocate for the Fa’afafine in Samoa and continues to serve as a voice for the community in public affairs and the media.
With the Embassy’s financial support, Samoa Fa’afafine Association (SFA) will address awareness and community mobilization on critical human rights, health, and social issues for Fa’afafine through the Annual Fa’afafine Forum. This funding will help further engage the community (especially youth) on the forum topics by launching the first National Fa’afafine Week in December. These events will engage more Fa’afafine outside of Apia than previous years and provide a democratic platform for youth and community participation in creating community strategies for addressing Fa’afafine rights and health.
- Soifua Manuia Samoa – “Development of website/ social media (and virtual work space) Development of outreach materials appropriate to Samoa & translation into Samoan Research/data/ information collection, coordination among key stakeholders & reporting”
Methamphetamine (meth, “ice”) is readily accessible in Samoa and causing harm to individuals, families, local businesses and the community at large. Soifua Manuia is a newly registered Non-governmental Organization (NGO) set up to promote awareness, education and recovery/rehabilitation related to methamphetamine (addiction). Soifua Manuia’s mission is to bring to Samoa awareness and education/ promote health and safety with regards to meth. There is no information/support/advocacy intervention regarding meth. Stakeholders/professionals are largely uninformed about methamphetamine (meth, “ice”) as well as its current/potential impact on Samoa. With the U.S. Embassy’s support, Soifua Manuia intends to provide this information to a broader audience in Samoa and abroad, as well as improve meth-related data collection/reporting, and drive a coordinated approach for solutions in Samoa.
- Filet685 Productions – “Alofa Samoa Season 2016”
Filét685 Productions is a new production house formed by producer/director/writers, Naea Asolelei To’alepai and Fiona Collins. Their work involves theatre shows and productions, film production, script-writing and directing, and radio plays, but also focuses on local youth development through performing arts. A vital part of Filét685 Productions and its vision pertains to the education and development of local youth and children with classes and workshops that allow growth, learning and progression of skills.
With the financial support from the U.S. Embassy’s Small Grants Scheme, Filet685 Productions hopes to not only provide an avenue of expression for our local youth, children, and aspiring actors; but to also encourage and explore the storytelling of our own stories, by our own people, in our own way – whether it be through theatre, film, television or radio.
- Ministry of Education Sports and Culture – Nelson Memorial Library – “American Corner (Free internet)”
The American Corner was established in 2010 as part of the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to assist in improving literacy and educational attainment among Samoan youth. The Corner houses a wide range of reference materials, educational resources, current magazines, and recently published fiction and non-fiction books. Through the Small Grants Scheme, the Embassy is helping to support the corner by providing “Free Internet Access” to the general public but most especially to assist students with their studies and research projects throughout the year.
- Samoa’s participant to the Future Leaders of the Pacific Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii – Ms. Rachel Tominiko
For four consecutive years, the U.S. State department has organized the Future Leaders of the Pacific Conference. The first ever conference was held here in Samoa, then American Samoa, followed by Auckland New Zealand and this year it was held in Hawaii. More than 30 participants from all over the Pacific attended this conference including the Independent State of Samoa which was represented by Ms. Rachel Tominiko. The aim of the conference was to develop relationships between a broad network of Pacific youth and continue to explore the most effective ways the U.S. can support the region. This year’s conference focused on conservation, leadership and indigenous communities. It also included site visits, workshops and networking with experts from the federal, non-profit and private sectors.