The Power of Storytelling – a Photo essay of the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Food Environment in Samoa

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On the 8th of December, a compilation of narratives of the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Food Environment in Samoa was launched. The pandemic has affected many different aspects of life, including food security. Some of the impacts have included access to plantations to plant, supply chain interruptions leading to shortages and financial difficulties to purchasing food due to job losses. This photo essay captures the personal narratives of 31 Samoan families, of how the pandemic affected the food environment.

The book emerged from a third year research class assignment, which required students to take a photograph and to write the story behind the picture. The class worked together on developing consent forms for the project as well. Additionally the assignment involved contextualizing the individual story within the data that was emerging (including job losses, government support and financial difficulties). The top nine submissions were compiled and submitted to the Oceania Special Issue in 2020; which was accepted and published.

There still remained many powerful and beautiful stories to be shared, so in 2021 with the support of the British High Commission in Samoa to print the first 30 copies of the book, 31 more of the submitted photo essays were compiled and published. 

The book was edited by Ramona Boodoosingh (PhD) and Dr. Sarah Burkhart of the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. It is organized into four sections; Small Stalls and Markets, Livestock and Poultry, Plantations and Home Gardens. Each photograph is accompanied by a powerful, personal narrative.