NORMA Tauiliili has swapped the tropical surrounds of Samoa for the temperate climes of central Victoria this past three months, under an agricultural scholarship aiming to boost skills in developing countries.
In Samoa, Mrs Tauiliili works as a senior field officer for Women in Business Development Incorporated, a non-government organisation that works to strengthen village economies and empower people working in rural areas to make a sustainable living.
During her time in Australia on the Rotary scholarship, Mrs Tauiliili has worked with several local producers, including Keans Free Range Eggs, Sutton Grange Organic Farm, Band B Basil and Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens, and started a TAFE course.
She said she had been gaining skills in organic farming and packaging, which she would take back and share in Samoa.
Organic farming plays a role in restoring healthy diets in Samoa and protecting the island country’s environment.
Learning from and sharing stories with others, Mrs Tauiliili said, had been among the most valuable of her experiences in Australia.
She said she had also made contacts here that could help find new markets for WIBD and its farmers.
But she counted milking a goat and conducting an autopsy on a goat at Sutton Grange Organic Farm as her most memorable experiences.
The distances she drove across central Victoria have also been interesting: they are long compared to those travelled in Samoa, where the main island is 75 kilometres long.
Mrs Tauiliili also delivered a presentation at La Trobe University and spoke live on radio, which was a test for the nerves.
But she was thankful for it all.
“It’s been the experience of a lifetime,” Mrs Tauiliili said.
She thanked the Rotary Club of Bendigo for making her trip possible, and her host families for taking her in and driving her to various parts of the region.
Mrs Tauiliili said she found Bendigo beautiful and the people “so nice and friendly”, but after three months away she was looking forward to returning to Apia, Samoa’s capital and the place she called home, on Thursday.
Scholarship aims to boost agricultural potential
Samoan resident Norma Tauiliili has visited and worked in Australia under a Rotary scholarship program that supports agriculture in developing countries.
The Royce and Jean Abbey Scholarship is awarded to one or two people each year, giving them the opportunity to visit Australia, learn about agricultural and community development, and implement those skills in their home countries.
Mrs Tauiliili’s visit to central Victoria was the first time a scholarship recipient has come to Bendigo.
She was chosen as a recipient unanimously by the selection panel, and program co-ordinator Bob Edgar said she had looked as though she would meet the objectives of the scholarship, which she had done so well in her time here.
Mr Edgar said the club would continue to maintain contact with Mrs Tauiliili and her organisation after her departure.
The Rotary Club of Bendigo had a long association with Samoa, he said, having worked there for about 30 years.