MicroAid Builds Canoes for the Village of Matafa’a — 2012


In Matafa’a, one of the most remote villages in Samoa, all their canoes were destroyed or washed away by the tidal wave. For Matafa’a this was particularly devastating because they rely solely on canoes to get across the bay to connect with the rest of the island—it’s the way the kids get to school, the adults to the shop and to the bus stop to get to jobs in the capital of Apia.

A crowded "school bus" after most of village's canoes were destroyed 



MicroAid worked with the local craftsmen to build 16 canoes so that every family in the village would have one.  Additionally, because we were making so many canoes in so short a time, the older men were able to teach the next generation the skills necessary to carve a canoe.  And since the project was completed, other villages have hired the men to make canoes for them—an unexpected benefit of the project.


Here’s the basic process of building one canoe.  (We did 16)






Find a suitably big tree in the jungle and cut it down.











Do the basic shaping and carving in the jungle.











Shape the hull.













Dig out the interior, and then drag the canoe out of the jungle. 










Begin the finishing work. 

This image shows Matai, the older generation, teaching a member of the new generation of canoe makers. 










Finally, connect outriggers. 













A finished work of art.












16 Finished canoes!












And paint.










The launching ceremony. 






Matafa'a's completed MicroAid fleet. 


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