25 September 2019 Apia Samoa. The Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) Program has appointed the first local as their new Program Manager in Samoa.
Mrs Lagi Natanielu is the first local to take up the lead role for VSA. She was previously the Principal for Loto Taumafai School for People with Disabilities since April 2015.
Loto Taumafai has also been a VSA partner since 1998, and over that time they have been blessed with 13 volunteers assisting in different roles from time to time.
Mrs Natanielu is a qualified pastoral counsellor and social worker who brings a high level of logistical administrative and people management skills to the role. She holds a Master of Education and a Diploma in Pastoral Counselling.
VSA has been operating in Samoa since 1963 when the first volunteer took up an assignment in the education sector Apia.
Mrs Natanielu says VSA has volunteers in Samoa working in the areas of agriculture, livelihoods, community infrastructure and disaster preparedness.
Over the past 56 years the VSA initiative has recruited more than 3,500 New Zealand volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds, including business mentors, lawyers, doctors and eco-tourism operators.
Mrs Natanielu says, “We work with our partners and stakeholders to make sure that all our assignments are locally identified, locally relevant, and locally driven with an emphasis on nurturing local capacities in a way that cultivates growth beyond volunteer support”.
“Our goal is to build local capacity through a mutually beneficial sharing of skills and knowledge so that the changes achieved during an assignment remain sustainable after a volunteer returns to New Zealand,” added Natanielu.
The local VSA Program Manager says she believes strongly in the VSA Mission and is deeply humbled and blessed to have been offered the position. It is her mission in this post to outwork what Collossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord, not for human masters”.
“It’s about connecting people and transforming lives;
“I am passionate for the role and the mission of the VSA;
“Connecting people, transforming lives;
“People are our greatest assets and resources and I believe that if we collaboratively nurture people in their God given potentialls and place value on then that goes a long way in cultivating a better and society.” said Mrs Natanielu.
Earlier yesterday morning the VSA Program Manager was welcomed to the New Zealand High Commission Office in Apia.
“The NZ High Commissioner, Dr Trevor Matheson, and High Commission staff Kala, Situfu and Sonya (behind the camera 💁🏽), were delighted to welcome VSA’s new Country Programme Manager for Samoa, Lagi Natanielu, to the office today to talk all things ‘volunteering’!