“I know what you have been through. I’ve been through the same thing; they called us survivors. We have been hurt, but we survived. I am a survivor myself.”says Scott Brown.
Spoken like a true survivor himself, the U.S Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Scott Brown and his wife Gail Brown were accompanied to the Campus of Hope by the U.S Embassy Apia Chargé d’Affaires Tony & Izumi Greubel.
As the U. S Ambassasdor shared with the children survivors of gender based violence under the care of Samoa Victim Support Group, they were all attentive, focusing on his every word because it speaks volume of the recovery journey every survivor goes through.
Leaving his seat with the rest of the visiting delegation, Ambassador Scott Brown moved closer to children, reassuring them that being at the Campus of Hope is not the end, but rather the beginning.
“I want to let you know that I understand what you go through. Not a single day goes by that I don’t remember, but I tried to move past it, and so should you.” The Ambassador then gifted the children with his book titled ‘Against All Odds’ together with CD’s from his eldest daughter and American Idolsemifinalist Ayla Brown.
Culminating Ambassador Scott Brown’s visit at the Campus was a walk through the Hot Soup Skill Building, a livelihood and educational program carried out by SVSG for the child vendors with funding support from the U.S Embassy Apia.
SVSG President Siliniu LinaChang acknowledged the support from the U.S Government towards the work of SVSG. “Thank you so much Ambassador Scott Brown and your beautiful wife Gail for visiting the children at the Campus. You have inspired them with your story as they each go through their rehabilitation programs. Thank you also for supporting the Hot Soup Skill building program for the child vendors which is making a positive change in their lives.
She travelled all the way from Denmark to volunteer for Samoa Victim Support Group for a period of nine weeks. Teacher and social worker at Kindergarten Kong Tumle, Copenhagen, Ms. Kristina Andersen shared her story of admiration for the survivors of gender based violence cared for at the Campus of Hope.
Thank you so much Kristina for being part of the SVSG family of supporters and friends. Despite being oceans away from home, you blended in well as part of the SVSG growing family. As Kristina completed her 9 weeks with SVSG, we are sharing her story because according to Kristina “If I can come all the way to volunteer for vulnerable children, so can you. ‘We Can, You Can’”:
"To be part of S.V.S.G has been a great experience for me. I am already close to the end of my 9 weeks of volunteering and have had so many wonderful experiences.
When I arrived I was very lucky to be part of the big “BUDDYING UP” project for child vendors. During the two weeks of the program I met some incredible sweet and strong kids and young people. The S.V.S.G made it possible for the kids to go to places they have never been before and it was so rewarding to see the happiness and excitement in all their faces. They found joy and appreciation in small things, which many kids back in Denmark are taking for granted.
After ending the project it has been such a joy to go around town and met up with some of the kids again. Especially one meeting at the bus station made me so happy- here I met one of the small girls from the program, standing in her new school uniform with her new schoolbag and both her and her mother looked so proud and happy.
To be part of the programme also gave me a fantastic opportunity to get a glimpse and learn about the Samoan life. I immediately feel in love with the happy spirits of the Samoan people and the passion for traditional music and dancing and the joy it brings- But I also saw big problems and challenges in the Samoan society with child vendors and abuse. Thankfully the people of Samoa have an organisation like the S.V.S.G. For me it is terrible thinking about how the lives of these vulnerable children and woman would look like without the hard work and support from S.V.S.G.
I have also spent a lot of time at the Campus. I have a big class with kids with different ages and different needs. And right from the start I really loved spending time with the kids and we have lots of fun together.
Many times I have been so moved by their stories and I am full of admiration over how strong and brave these kids and young women are. I feel very proud to be a part of the S.V.S.G. team and I will always remember this experience and do my best to keep on supporting the S.V.S.G. when I go back to Denmark. "
The representatives from Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) that attended the New Delhi Seminar as part of ‘Breaking the Cycle: Men & Boys Engage to End Violence Against Women’ project have returned home.
Franziska Sione and Mane Su’a have returned with improved knowledge on engaging men and boys as a solution to ending violence against women.
For 12 months since January 2019, the 5 international organisations lead by the Centro Rural Joven Vida (CERUJOVI) in Spain, the Youths First in Madagascar, the Center of Health and Social Justice in India, the Emancipator in Netherlands and the Samoa Victim Support Group in Samoa, will gather in 5 different locations to brainstorm, to learn from each organsiation’s experience, to draw up advocacy tool kits and to visit places where the engaging men and boys concept is being practiced.
For Franziska and Mane, they were both overwhelmed by the practicality of the best practices adopted by each of the 5 organsations represented at the Seminar. From grassroot advocacy to changing masculinity views to recruiting men of change, these best practices are effective when blended in well within the local context.
The SVSG Youth Empowerment Program with the young offenders referred from the Youth Court was highlighted during the SVSG presentation of best practices. According to Franziska who is also the SVSG Junior Coordiantor, “it is amazing how a best practice from a small island such as Samoa, captured the attention of the organisations from well developed countries such as India, Netherlands, Spain, and Madagascar (and vice versa).”
The next gathering of the project team for the ‘Breaking the Cycle: Men & Boys Engage to End Violence Against Women’ project will during a Study Visit in the Netherlands in May 2019.
But before then, Franziska and Mane have a lot of work cut out for them, to ensure that the knowledge and the best practices shared during the New Delhi Seminar is well incorporated in SVSG’s program to end violence against women.
The commemoration of the International Women’s Day 2019 might be over, but for the Bank of the South Pacific (Samoa), its staff opted to celebrate it by giving back to the local community through the work of Samoa Victim Support Group.
During a donation presentation at the BSP Board Room today, the Country Head of the BSP (Samoa), Taituuga Maryann Lameko-Vaai presented the $1,000 cheque to the President of the SVSG, Siliniu Lina Chang, as a gift of encouragement for SVSG’s work for women.
According to Taituuga, “We chose to donate to SVSG because of the work you do to look after young women who are victims of crime. It is the least we could do. The work you do allows us to put our own problems into perspective.”
The donation was put together by the staff of the BSP (Samoa).
SVSG President acknowledged the continued partnership with the Bank of the South Pacific.
“Thank you so much Taituuga and the staff for ongoing belief in the work of SVSG. The donation and its intention is a source of encouragement as we continued working to support the women of Samoa.” Siliniu Lina Chang
Two members of the SVSG (Juniors) who are also staff members of SVSG, namely Mr. Franziska Sione and Mr. Mane Su’a will represent Samoa Victim Support Group to the Partner Seminar and Visit organized by the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ) in New Delhi from 12 – 16 March 2019.
The Seminar is Phase 2 of the ‘Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Men & Boys Engage Project’ lead by Centro Rural Joven Vida (CERUJOVI), a non-profit organization based in Spain. Cerujovi is partnering with five international organisations including the Emancipator in Nethelands, the Youth First in Madagascar, the Foundation for Innovative Social Development in Sri Lanka, the Centre for Health and Social Justice in India and Samoa Victim Support Group, Samoa.
The Project aims at building capacity among youth through exchanges and cooperation between the partners; promoting transnational non-formal learning between the youth of the represented countries.
And the Project continues to gather momentum as it is increasingly becoming clear that it is not possible to end violence against women if we do not also consider men as agents of change.
The Seminar in New Delhi is therefore an important component of the shared learning process and focuses on understanding and learning the different methodologies used by different organisations in the process of working with men.
The SVSG representatives will share on good practices such as the SVSG Men’s Advocacy Group and the SVSG Youth Empowerment Program for the court referred men and young offenders of violence.
In addition, educational awareness on anti-bullying in schools, and mentorship programs such as buddying up with child vendors and shelter children will be shared during the seminar.
While the stratergies to end violence against women and girls continue to be an evolution, SVSG believes that for any new strategies to work, we should always be cultural sensitive to achieve buy in and support.
For over fourteen years, Samoa Victim Support Group has advocated for the rights of the most vulnerable in our local Samoan communities. SVSG became the voice for the voiceless in the hope that vulnerable communities would be heard.
Today, the role has changed. SVSG’s fight to eliminate violence against women and girls is giving you the platform to be a voice for change.
A Positive Movement born from the ashes of physical and sexual abuse; the Sisters of Hope (female survivors of gender based violence cared for at the Campus of Hope) wants you to join them as they say no to a life that should have destroyed them. In situations where brave and courageous girls had once lost their voices, the message is now loud and clear – “if We Can, You Can too”.What once used to silence them is now the very passion behind their words as they speak out; and they want you to join them.
Have you overcome something in life that used to keep you silent? Have you made some positive changes in your life that would give hope to others? Have you got a message that you want to share? If this is you, then join us.
According to the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, “it is SVSG’s belief that change originates from the minds and the voices of a community. A community that gives hope to those who are without. A community that doesn’t leave each other behind. The Positve Movement is the platform to hear your voices.”
SVSG will take the Positive Movement to our villages, our churches, our schools and the local community at large. We will spread the Positive Movement further to our Pacific region and beyond to the outside world through the social media.
So join us in the Positive Movement, where TOGETHER, we will say no to violence, no to past troubles, no to past hurts, and scream out YES to lives of positivity. Be the change that you want someone else to see. Lift your voice and join us in the Positive Movement because the Sisters of Hope believe that “if We Can, You Can too”.
Due to severe weather conditions with tropical depression affecting Samoa this week, the Nofotane Market scheduled for Thursday, 28thFebruary 2019 has been postponed to Friday, 8thMarch 2019at the Malaefatu Reserve, Sogi.
Thank you so much Samoa for your continuous support of the economic empowerment of the nofotane women.
We look forward to seeing you on Friday, 8thMarch 2019to bear witness to the sustainability of the income generating activities of the nofotane women, courtesy of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.
Be a part of someone’s story who broke through the silencing barrier of domestic violence through economic empowerment.
Invest in the livelihood of nofotane women who choose to make a permanent change for generations to come.
Have your part to play in a life that is choosing to change its course.
They were once without a voice, but now they are making decisions together with their husbands for the wellbeing of their families.
They were merely housewives who looked after the children and attended to what ever was needed in their homes.
Today, they are self-employed nofotane women, who are helping their husbands with the family’s financial needs; with the children’s school fees, the family’s medicals, contributions to the church,
Today, a change has been sustained.
Over the past six months, SVSG in partnership with the Canadian government through the Canada Fund for Local Initiative, have worked together to see that local nofotane business earners were able to maintain the fire and passion that burned within them to use what was in their hands to create a better tomorrow.
With challenges such as markets, time management and product development, these women showed great determintation and attended further trainings to see that the changes they had made in their lives were able to be sustained.
It therefore calls for a celebration of the nofotane women’s perseverance, commitment and empowerment.
It is in this connection that Samoa Victim Support Group, invites everyone to the Nofotane Marketto be held on Thursday, 28thFebruary 2019at the Malaefatu Playground Sogi, from 8.00am – 6.00pm.
Be a part of someone’s story who broke through the silencing barrier of domestic violence.
Invest in the livelihood of nofotane women who choose to make a permanent change for generations to come.
Have your part to play in a life that is choosing to change its course.
What she wasn’t able to achieve in her short life, she managed to do so in her death.
“….. let it end with me …” was part of Rosa’s message of hope that resounded louder and clearer at the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints Fasitoouta, as church leaders from the LDS Church, the Catholic church, the Assembly of God and the Methodist church gathered with families and villagers from Fasitoo-uta, to learn and to be inspired by her young life of suffering and perseverance.
Samoa Victim Support Group is a family in mourning as today, the Group farewelled one of its dear children, Rosa, who at 18, had lived anything but a normal life.
As her older sisters from the Campus of Hope carried her coffin to her final resting place, the young survivors themselves vowed that it was not her tiny body that wore them out, but the weight of the message that she had left.
“Children should grow up safely within their own family environment. I wasn’t.” Rosa’s message of hope, as read out by Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President, touched her village, from the church leaders to the family leaders; they heard Rosa’s message with humility and an acceptance of responsibilities.
Bishop Alavine Tuala of the LDS Church Fasitoo-uta who lead Rosa’s funeral services was speechless as the impact of Rosa’s message finally hit home. “What a pity that she had to suffer alone; that it has to take her death for all of us to come to terms with what she went through. “Now I know how important the work of Samoa Victim Support Group is because they took Rosa in as their own up until she was called home. They require all our support.”
For Rosa’s grandmother Uesa, she carried Rosa’s bitterness with her. But as her voice wavered in emotion, she loudly declared the last of Rosa’s message, “I’m calling on all the parents to please love your children.”
As SVSG left Rosa at her final resting place, we were disheartened.. Who wouldn’t when we heard and saw for ourselves the impact of the abuse Rosa suffered; in the cries of her siblings, the weeping of her grandmother and the sobs of those that her life had touched.
But as God is our Lord and Savior, there is always hope. SVSG will continue to share Rosa's message of hope through our work. Rest in love dear Rosa.
It was a new day and a new beginning for five child vendors who are now attending school for the first time in their lives, thanks to the generosity of their sponsors.
At the Vaigaga Primary School yesterday, three children ages 7; and two children ages 8 and 9 became part of the Year 3 and Year 4 classes respectively, as they eagerly anticipated their lives as children in a classroom. From the school principal’s perspective, the children have been allocated to their classes according to their ages to avoid any awkwardness if they are placed in Year 1, given that they have never been to school before. The school however, will pay close attention to their academic needs as they slowly go through their learning experience.
According to the SVSG Junior Vice President Franziska Sione, who coordinated the enrolment and the children’s first day at school, “there was an excitement amongst the children as they held hands going into their classrooms. At one time, one of our young scholarship recipients cried for her mother and the other 2 in the same class with her both started to cry.”
The five out of twelve children were identified in the outcome assessment of the Buddy Up Program implemented by Samoa Victim Support Group with funding support from the International Labour Organisation in January this year. The Program targeted child vendors buddying up with youth members of the SVSG Juniors, in an effort to get the child vendors out of the streets and back to school. 30 child vendors partnered up with youths during the Program.
While Faustina Aperaamo earlier secured a scholarship courtesy of Eli & Wyndi Tagi of New Zealand and is now attending Vaigaga Primary School, the two of the additional scholars have their education sponsored by the TACT of New Zealand thanks to the generosity of Levaoatuamaaana Aati-Schuster and her Team. The other three scholars have been sponsored by an anonymous local donor.
We have 6 more children eligible for primary education still awaiting sponsorship to be enrolled in school. If you would like to make a difference in the lives of these children, please call SVSG on telephone 25392 or email email@example.com more information. The scholarship covers obtaining birth certificates for enrolment, school fees and uniforms for each child per year.