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The Miracle of the Multiplying Fishing Nets

Salea’a’umua, Samoa, 3-16-12

Meeting up with Nanai from the Community Centered Sustainable Development Project (CCSDP) to visit the village that is the candidate for the fishing kits, we drive along the southern coastal road where towns like Siumu, Aufaga, and Saleapaga whiz by, alternating with jungle and sea views.

We make a few stops so that Nanai can deliver a nautical compass to one village the CCSDP had bought a fishing boat for, and a cook stove and wok for another that is starting a food-service business to provide local schools with hot lunches. The CCSDP is a regional organization that provides livelihood products and solutions to islanders in this area of the Pacific. Their direct programs reminded me of the way MicroAid works. When I mentioned this to Nanai, he said wryly, “Yes, but with bigger budgets.” (The CCSDP was vetted and is funded in part by the U.N Development Programme, which is how we got connected to them.) Every bit helps, and Nanai is happy to guide MicroAid to the beneficiary village of Salea’a’umua on the southeastern coast—the region most devastated by the tsunami in 2009.

representative of the women's council Salea'a'umua

A meeting with representatives from the Women’s Council of the village—they will administer the kits—is pleasant, but reserved, at first. Nanai explains that when they were told I represented a charity they thought “I was going to give them a car, or something.” After he translates my description of MicroAid as “our ‘family’ raising money to help their ‘family,’ ” everyone becomes warm and, well, familial. Young coconuts are hacked open and we discuss the real needs of the village. I must say, that I am getting used to having an interpreter in places like this, and one as smart as Nanai, can certainly make things easier—nuance being all-important. Nanai, of course, runs a big organization, and is generously helping us, but he understands and trusts the MicroAid mission. We’re lucky to have connected with him.

around the corner at Lalomanu

As for the village, we will put together four fishing kits (buying the supplies in Apia) and deliver them to Salea’a’umua so that the 600 villagers will have more opportunities to get out in the water and catch their dinner, or even sell a few extra fish for some much-needed cash.

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