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June 10, 2014

As you recall, we did a project in Samoa (2012) where we built 16 canoes—one for each family in the village of Matafa’a—to replace those lost in the tsunami of 2009.  Since the entire village helped with the project—the elders teaching everyone the art of carving an outrigger canoe—it was like canoe college.  After that, one of the young craftsmen...

January 20, 2013

Coming over the mountains to the south side of the island is like entering a different world.  Whereas the rest of Samoa is waterlogged and covered by five inches of mud, this side looks like an atom bomb has gone off.  All the trees have been shredded, and many of them lay uprooted and broken and tangled on the hillsides… but there is an orientati...

August 11, 2012

Cash donations make the MicroAid work possible—helping victims of disasters return to self-sufficiency.  But there are some things that keep ME going—keeping me self-sufficient in the field.

Every morning and throughout the day, I use an electrolyte infused product called Emergen-C.  A powder in a packet poured into a bottle of water that keeps me h...

April 18, 2012

The canoes are done!

Sixteen beautiful hand-carved works of art.

Now all the kids of the village can get to school in Falese’ela across Lefaga Bay, and the parents can paddle across to the bus stop if they need to go to Apia for work or for supplies.

Once the canoes were carved and finished it was pretty quick work to attach the outriggers and paint t...

April 17, 2012

It turns out that receiving a chief title, becoming a matai, is a much bigger deal than I thought.  If you do not inherit your title, it takes years of community service before they even consider bestowing one on you.  In fact, many Samoans are angry that Prince Charles received a title on a recent visit because he hadn’t really done anything for t...

April 11, 2012

An unexpected benefit of the project is that the older craftsmen are able to teach all the skills necessary to the next entire generation: selecting the trees, chopping them down, carving, shaping, finishing—it’s like canoe lab 101, 102, 103.

Normally, when only one canoe gets made every couple of years, by one family, the experience is limited.  Ma...

April 3, 2012

All trees chopped down and moved to the finishing area in the village.  (Canoe total: 16)

Six canoes finished, awaiting outriggers and paint.

Rev. Fepai and son in finishing room

Canoe dedication ceremony scheduled for Saturday, April 14th.  Big event.  Honored guests and the press invited.  Guys working to meet the deadline.

April 3, 2012

Salea’a’umau village.

When we think of fishing we usually imagine someone casting a line into the water and reeling in their catch.  Here, fishing means swimming under the surface at night and using a spear (in other parts of the world called a “Hawaiian Sling”) to snag your prey, and/or stringing a net across part of the lagoon.

In Samoa, a “fishing...

April 2, 2012

Matafa’a canoe project update:

All but one tree chopped down and moved to the finishing area in the village.  (Canoe total: 16)

One tree left in the jungle to be dug out and dragged out.

Three canoes finished, awaiting outriggers and paint.

Canoe dedication ceremony scheduled for Saturday, April 14th.  Big event.  Honored guests and the press invited....

March 24, 2012

Matafaa, Samoa, 3-24-12

what you can't see in this picture is that it is pounding rain!

Finding a big tree to turn into a canoe is like stalking big game in Africa:  You never know where you’ll encounter your prey.   Here we are with one we bagged high up on the hillside in the jungle.

Here’s another we took down in the mangrove swamp.

the mu...

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