Volunteer Review: Tani I., Nutrition in Samoa
Samoa has always been on my bucket list and now I can tell everyone why from first-hand experience! It is a picturesque location with so much to see, experience and explore. The locals are so friendly and the culture is very unique and interesting.
The Projects Abroad team in Samoa are absolutely amazing. They go above and beyond to ensure you get the most out of your experience while in Samoa, whether that be on the project or in your spare time.
My Nutrition placement
The Nutrition Project is quite flexible and included a variety of different things. These activities are planned by volunteers, with assistance from the Nutrition Project Coordinator.
While I was on the project, we visited schools where we did health screenings on the staff, measuring blood pressure, blood sugar level, and weight. Then, we ran nutrition classes with the students. This could include things like teaching the students what carbohydrates are, for example.
We also visited the hospital and did short nutrition presentations for pregnant women. Presentations could be as simple as recommending what foods to eat or avoid during pregnancy.
While I was there, we also visited a pastor who had diabetes. The local team had been monitoring him for about nine months. He did not want to take medication, but rather wanted to control his sugars through his diet. It was interesting to see how much his health had improved just based on dietary changes.
In addition to this, we were allocated time to research, plan and make resources for the above mentioned activities, and to enter any information and statistics into the database.
Tip: You’ll get out of it what you put in, so be proactive and show initiative.
Living with a host family
Living with a host family is an amazing way to experience the Samoan culture first-hand. I stayed with Tavaii and her family, and I felt extremely comfortable, safe and welcome the entire time. It is also great to stay with a local family, as they can offer you a lot of local knowledge and tips and tricks to make your stay much easier.
I had my own room with a lock on the door and I shared a bathroom with other volunteers. Most Samoan homes do not have hot water, which doesn’t really matter as it’s so warm all the time. In regards to food, the families will endeavor to include fruit and vegetables in your meals while still offering traditional, local food.
Tip: Make sure to try the Samoan Pancakes. They are delicious!
My free time
You get quite a bit of free time on the project, including most afternoons and weekends. There is so much to do and see in Samoa, but some of my favorites included:
- Papaseea Sliding Rocks – not far from town
- To Sua Trench, Sopoaga Falls, Fuipisia Falls and Togitogiga Waterfall – you can visit these all in a day as they are on the same route
- Lalomanu Beach – you can spend the night in a beach fale or just do a day trip
- Return to Paradise Beach Resort – you can pay a fee and utilize the resort and beach for the day. I enjoyed a massage and some cocktails here!
- Piula Cave Pool
- Namu’a Island – catch a small boat and stay the night in a beach fale. Meals are included in the price.
- Savai’i – catch the ferry over and stay a night or two. Visit Afu Aau Waterfall and Alofaaga Blowholes.
Tip: Ask the local Projects Abroad taxi driver to take you around on the weekends, and plan trips with other volunteers to reduce costs and enjoy the experience together.
My overall experience
Overall, my experience in Samoa was everything I had hoped for and more. The project was extremely rewarding and the beautiful scenery speaks for itself. I can highly recommend Samoa, the Nutrition Project, and Projects Abroad.
Tip: I wish I could have stayed longer than my two-week project. If you are looking at volunteering for a short time, I would recommend three to four weeks if you can.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.