COL and Matuaileoo Environment Trust Inc. (METI) worked together to bring healthy living and life skills training to 25 villages in Samoa. Through the development of a “Life Skills Training Manual for Taiala,” the life skills training was conducted at the grassroots level throughout the country. Taiala, which in Samoan means “path-breakers,” are multidisciplinary community workers.
COL supported capacity building and the creation of quality learning resources at METI to strengthen sustainable development through three key areas in the METI programme: life skills coaching, permaculture and healthy living. The Life Skills Training, Permaculture, and Healthy Living learning materials are published as open educational resources.
The objective was to encourage people to develop their own kitchen gardens, with more than 600 people trained. When asked what they do differently as a result of the METI training, respondents said they had changed their agricultural/horticultural practices – they now practiced organic gardening principles, and were no longer using chemical fertilisers, and felt more engaged with the land.
“I no longer burn organic materials – everything is used for compost and mulching,” said one respondent.
Changed agricultural/horticultural practices, in turn, led to changed dietary habits where participants’ families moved to eating less meat and more vegetables.
One respondent said, “I used to only eat food with meat but now I and my family are happy to eat vegetables.”
This has had a significant impact on health. Those involved reported feeling stronger and healthier.
“Me, my husband and children are all healthier,” said one respondent.
On a practical level, these changes in agricultural and dietary practices have delivered much appreciated economic gains. Respondents reported needing to spend less money on feeding their families, and even being able to earn a small income by selling excess produce at local markets. The net result is a feeling of financial independence and greater economic stability.