February 2, 2013
SOFIAS PRESS RELEASE:
SOFIAS Meet & Greet - U.S. Ambassador for Samoa & NZ, Hon. David Huebner
The Society or Sosaiete o Fa’afafine in American Samoa hosted a welcoming event (late luncheon) at Sadies by the Sea showcasing Our Samoan hospitality for the Hon. David Huebner, the U.S. Ambassador based in Wellington, New Zealand. The event was well attended by the association’s officers and members. The program was led by Ms. Shevon Matai (MCee) and was first initiated by Ms. Ipi Ieli. Both Shevon and Ipi are members and advisors for SOFIAS.
Background situation: SOFIAS relationship with the Honorable Ambassador stems from their attendance of the Human Rights & Outgames held in Huebner’s home city of Wellington in the year 2011. The SOFIAS delegation for the Wellington conference was led by the former President Athena Mauga with Scholastic presenter(s) – Shevon Matai, and SOFIAS Officers; Tasha Atio’o, Ipi Ieli, Jayleen Chun and member; Tifi Le’iato. During the week-long conference in Wellington, the Hon. U.S. Ambassador hosted a dinner party for SOFIAS and other Pacific island delegations at his official residence. A network of new affiliations with the Hon. Ambassador was created and the dialogue on networking with other leading groups of similar interests was developed from there on.
From 2011 to the present 2013, The Future Leaders of the Pacific Summit brought the presence of the Ambassador here in the territory and SOFIAS took the opportunity to reciprocate the hospitality afforded to them during their stay in Wellington. The meeting saw the furthering of the dialogue between the Ambassador and members of SOFIAS in attendance on relevant issues and raising awareness in the lookout for what help is available to better the organization’s infrastructure, leadership, funding and active role for SOFIAS in our community and within the region. SOFIAS current President, Ms. Tasha Atio’o gave the welcoming remarks and Advisor Seti Leatumauga extended comments of appreciation from SOFIAS to the Ambassador for attending the event at Sadies. A taualuga and ai’ava was also performed by the association and led by the reigning Miss SOFIAS 2012-2013, Miss Tepatasi Vaina. Lastly, SOFIAS has formally invited the Hon. U.S. Ambassador to be a guest of honor at the upcoming MISS SOFIAS 2013-2014 to be held in April 20, 2013 here in American Samoa.
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Recently during the flag-day weekend in April last month, the Society of Fa’afafine in American Samoa – SOFIAS completed the Annual MISS SOFIAS Beauty Pageant. The lovely Miss Trina Tui who won the association’s 28th annual beauty pageant and 2nd time under the new title of SOFIAS led the group to giving a part of the pageant proceeds – a thousand dollars for a kind-donation to Hope House, Fatu-o-Aiga. For the past and numerous years – the fa’afafine associations have been making such kind contributions to Fatu-o-Aiga and elsewhere like the Red-Cross and Pediatric Ward. Today, SOFIAS continues to make the time-honored tradition of promoting giving to such places and organization for good cause.
SOFIAS like any other non-profit organization is fully funded through membership fees and the major fundraising to operate organizational goals and objectives is the annual beauty pageant. One of the goals for the SOFIAS is to promote and provide outreach events that engage the community into more awareness of pressing issues and topics of our times specifically those with HIV/AIDS, Diabetes & Hypertension, and the sort. Partial proceeds from the pageant made it possible for SOFIAS to fully fund the venue, food, drinks, and gifts like free pageant dvds and souvenir key-chains for participants whom attended their first outreach.
On May 20th – last Friday, SOFIAS hosted their inaugural outreach event at the Tradewinds Hotel conference room. The outreach program since it was a first for the organization was a free for all event open to the public and saw a gathering of more than fifty supporters along with friends and family. SOFIAS opened the outreach to anyone who wished to come in and learn more about HIV/AIDS – Presenter was Mr. Makeati of the local HIV/AIDS office [an affiliation / partnership of SOFIAS], Diabetes & Hypertension by Ms. Loata Sipili – a certified RN-MSN Diabetic Specialist [Also a SOFIAS Advisor], and most interesting a presentation of what is SOFIAS and an interesting look into Human Rights for Transgender / Fa'afafine led by Shevon Matai. The night ended with closing remarks by one of SOFIAS' Advisor – Leatumauga Seti and the opening and closing prayer for the event was provided for by Rev. Kleefi Muao.
The whole outline of the SOFIAS Outreach event was centered on the organization’s motto – “Ia Ola Malamalama I Lou Fa’asinomaga” – “Be of Virtue & Pride in Your Identity”. The organization leads the way in promoting a positive influence for fa’afafine in the community and strives to further touch basis with the community through such events and not only during beauty pageants.
SOFIAS is under the leadership of President – Athena Mauga, the coordinator for the event and Vice President – Naeaulumanu’a Tasha Atio’o whom was the master of ceremony for the evening. The officers, members, and advisors hope to achieve more goals of the organization through more events and workshops provided for through various fundraising activities.
Most notably, it has been a momentous year for SOFIAS with already having attended a Human Rights conference in Wellington, New Zealand in March, a beauty pageant in April and donation to Fatu-o-Aiga, and now their 1st SOFIAS Community Outreach in May. All this could not have been possible without the support from the community – And, SOFIAS is very much in the spirit of giving back to the community through such programs. At the end of May, the officers and Miss along with some members will be traveling to Apia by invitation [accommodations and the sort paid for by Apia organizers] to Samoa Fa’afafine Association’s[SFA] – Vocational Training and Outreach Workshop. SFA is one of the few affiliations partnered with SOFIAS to raise awareness for fa’afafine across the Samoan archipelago. In the coming months, SOFIAS hopes to provide more opportunities in the spirit of community service to better facilitate their commitment to balancing the fa’asamoa way of life with western attributes and influences.
You can find out more about SOFIAS through their website – http://assofias.webs.com/ or on Facebook – S.O.F.I.A.S. – Sosaiete o Fa’afafine I Amerika Samoa.
Approved By: Publicity Committee Chair - Princess Auva'a & SOFIAS PRESIDENT!