A business opportunity and a sense of duty have combined to make a shop owner in American Samoa a strong advocate of the Safe Festival Campaign organised for the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts in American Samoa.
Mr Fala Leasiolagi, owner of the Island Stop & Go shop, who is distributing free Safe Festival condom packs, believes the move will attract more business.
The Safe Festival campaign is being run by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) HIV & STI Section, in collaboration with the American Samoan Department of Health and the Festival Organising Committee. Its aim is to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
At the start of the festival, campaign organisers had intended to distribute 2000 backpacks containing packages of female and male condoms, factual information on HIV and AIDS, HIV testing, STIs, and safe sex, and other health promotion items, to participants through health briefings with each country delegation.
However, after the condom distribution was criticised by local Catholic bishop, Bishop Weitzel, the Congregational Christian Church asked that the condoms be removed from the backpacks to be given to around 800 artists housed at its Kanana Fou Theological Campus.
When Mr Leasiolagi, heard this, he offered to help out. In fact, he says he was approached by American Samoa’s Medical Director, Dr Ivan Tuliau, to distribute the condoms from his shop, which is handily located for festival participants staying at Kanana Fou. He immediately recognized it as a business opportunity, saying, ‘I’m willing to consider anything that will bring more customers through the door.’