Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Auckland University PhD student calls for Samoan women to share experiences of Covid-19

New Zealand-born Samoan Sarah McLean-Orsborn, a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland, has launched a questionnaire for Samoan women across the globe to understand how they have been impacted by Covid-19.

The questionnaire is open to Samoan women in Samoa and throughout the diaspora aged 16 years and over who have been directly or indirectly impacted by Covid-19. The research goal is to not only understand the impact of Covid-19, but to find ways to support Samoan women in times of crises.

“We opened it up to Samoan women around the world to see if the experiences are similar, but also if we’re missing out on things that work over there but we haven’t seen here,” says McLean-Orsborn.

Researching Samoan women’s experiences is not new to McLean-Orsborn. Her Masters, completed in 2018, saw her exploring the experiences of mental health service providers working with Samoan women aged 18-24 who were diagnosed with depression.

“The results showed there was a lot to continue working on, such as the fact that a lot of our Samoan women had sought help for historical sexual abuse, but were seeking help because they were seeing it happen to their younger siblings/cousins and they wanted to put a stop to it. Other things that came up were financial pressures/obligations which meant career, educational or even relationships had to be put aside,” says McLean-Orsborn.

Sarah McLean-Orsborn, PhD Candidate at the University of Auckland.

Sadly, while McLean-Orsborn was working and undertaking her MA, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“It really stood out to me the privilege I had to have the support around me to balance everything, to be able to navigate the health care system and to be able to be the advocate Mum needed when she was too ma to speak up,” says McLean-Orsborn.

“I felt it was even more of a reason for me to become the vaka/vessel to try help make it easier for our young women to seek help like I was able to.”

Following New Zealand’s first lockdown, McLean-Orsborn’s PhD research shifted focus to the impact of Covid-19.

“[My supervisors] suggested that this would be a unique opportunity to begin paving the way that we recover from Covid, because the impacts of it could/will have a lasting effect on our Pacific people,” says McLean-Orsborn.

“Being a Samoan woman myself in a multi-generational household with my Dad having an underlying heart condition and having the concerns about health and finances, it made sense to explore what I too was going through.”

“The beauty of my two research projects so far is that it’s something that I too can position myself in; I’m not just researching people for the sake of it but also trying to find sense and meaning in my own experiences in amongst the collective.”

If you are a Samoan woman over the age of 16, you can fill in the questionnaire here.

 

 

 

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