Getting a fine education

Getting a fine education

With every batch of new National University of Samoa enrolments, there are always special stories that emerge.

Once such story is Bronco Afaese, who is getting an education paid for by Samoa’s greatest treasure – the fine mat.

Mother Saveliga Afaese is one of Samoa’s ie sae weavers.  Based in Falealupo, she is also part of a Women in Business sponsor programme that pairs sponsors with weavers so weavers can earn a weekly income while they weave.

The mats Saveliga weave are so fine the pandanus strips are less than 2mm wide and each mat takes six months to weave. She has been part of the sponsor programme for 10 years now.

Bronco says that he knows how difficult it is for his mother to do this type of work and it inspires him to work hard at his studies. Last year he achieved an average score of 12 for his Pacific Secondary School Certificate and is eligible to be in the University Preparatory Year programme.

 “I will be studying agricultural science, science, maths, English and Samoan this year,” says the 18-year-old Avele graduate.

 Yesterday, the Afaese family were busy organizing Bronco’s enrolment.

“We came to withdraw money from our Women in Business savings account,” says Saveliga. “We put just a little bit of money aside every week because we know the children will have school fees coming up.”

 Bronco’s father Afaese Alupopo took the day off from the family farm and sister Fausaga, who attends Papauta Girls College, also came into Apia for the happy family occasion of seeing the eldest Afaese child begin his tertiary education.

 Women in Business project officer Aiga Fiu (pictured here holding a fine mat)  works with the Saveliga and other fine mat weavers, both the sponsored ones and also new weavers who want to learn the ie sae.

 “Most of our mats are bought by Samoans thinking ahead to their daughters’ weddings and major family events,” says Fiu.

 “I think many overseas Samoans have the means and the heart to become sponsors. This ie sae is the finest mat we can bring to our family fa’alavelave – it reflects on our honour and those we honour.”

 To learn more about the sponsor programme, people can visit or email

Posted: Tue 29 Jan 2013