Self-Reliance with a Twist

News Release
 

Over the past several months women in the Solomon Islands have been actively engaged in learning skills to market products taught to them by Lupe Fuimaono, a senior missionary sister of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Samoa - but with a twist.

The twist is that once they learn the skill, they must teach it to someone else.

Sister Fuimaono’s vision was that when women learn basic sewing and baking techniques and then teach someone else, they become proficient enough to market those products and help with the family income.

Because of this, she began a series of cooking and sewing classes aimed to help the women become more self-reliant – the benefits of which are immediate and potentially long-lasting.

“The women are taught to do it, do it now. Teach it to another sister - bake it, sell it, and bake again,” says Sister Fuimaono. “I’m helping you. You help another.”

Once a week, women of all ages gather at someone’s outdoor kitchen, donating their time to produce enough baked goods for one woman to get her business started. The process is repeated for another sister.

“With the money earned, the women first pay their tithing and offerings, save a portion and then set aside enough money to buy ingredients and supplies to keep building their business,” explains Sister Fuimaono.

In addition to the baking classes, sewing instruction is given using donated hand powered sewing machines. The women provide their own fabric and thread and are taught how to operate the machines, construct clothing articles and encouraged to teach someone else.  

Nesta Weri says, “I’m so happy because I come here to learn to sew and now I can make clothes for my family. Later I will make things to sell.”

“I’m making a dress for someone else.” says Ruth Tavake proudly. “I enjoy sewing. I feel proud and confident. And I will charge for my labour costs too.”

Sarah Hoiessi says, “I want to keep learning, so I can sew shirts and dresses for my brother’s family.”

“I’m learning to become self-reliant,” mentions Marita Eribati. “I want to be successful.”

Ethel Misitano Aruwili, leader of the local women's organisation [Relief Society] in the Solomon Islands, knows the sewing and baking classes will continue.

“I enjoy sewing and cooking and I can use the sisters who know how, to teach those that don’t. This is a safe way for all of us to be together.”

Annie Misitano, Ethel’s 15-year-old daughter also enjoys the weekly piano classes. She practices whenever she can and now plays the piano for the congregation’s worship services each Sunday.

When her mother visits the women and their families, Annie goes with them. She says, “I go with my mom to minister to others. I do this so people will know that they are loved.”

Clearly the baking, sewing, and music classes have helped to provide for some of the temporal needs of the families in the Solomon Islands and the spiritual ones as well.

Feelings of self-assurance, joy and peace have come to the women as they gather to learn, teach and serve one another.

Self-reliance is the "ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family." The counsel to learn then teach skills also plays an important role in promoting self-reliance in the women and families of the Solomon Islands.

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