Assistance for the sustainable income generation & self-employment of nofotane women in Smaoa continued with funding support from the Canadian Government under its Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) program.
Through the High Commissioner of Canada in New Zealand, a total of CAD30,000 has been granted to Samoa Victim Support Group, to continue its support for the newly self-employed nofotane women. These were the unemployed nofotane women who have been economically empowered under the 2-year project recently completed by SVSG and the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality.
Prior to the completion of the project with UN Women FGE, SVSG knew that it needs donor partners to assist with the sustainability of the project in the short term. Despite the lack of support from local donor agencies, SVSG continued to seek assistance from international donor partners.
The 6-months project with the CFLI will see nofotane earners from the UN Women FGE project, encouraged to continue with their small business ventures through self-esteem workshops, mentorship with village representatives, women to women support networks, opening savings accounts, and linkages to local and overseas markets. There will be 16 workshops conducted for the nofotane earners with inspirational speakers attending each of the sessions to further boost the nofotane women’s confidence.
And to ensure that its programs continued to be representative of the interests of the direct beneficiaries, trainers for the self esteem workshops have been recruited from the star earners themselves. These are nofotane women who have not only being trained as advocates for the economic empowerment of women in Samoa, but have also become succuessful entrepreneur since attending the Nofotane Project with UN Women FGE.
Exciting times are ahead for the nofotane earners, as SVSG continues to seek out funding to support the sustainability of their new business ventures. In the meantime, SVSG acknowledges the funding support from the Canadian Government through Nicolas Sabourin, High Commissioner of Canada in Wellington New Zealand, without which, SVSG will not be able to continue supporting the economically empowerment nofotane women.
The White Sunday this year was extra special for the abused and abandoned children at the Campus of Hope, as it was celebrated together with the children from the Seventh Day Adventist Church of Vaiusu.
Rather than going through the traditional White Sunday ritual of children performing for their parents, the children from the SDA church Vaiusu performed for the abused children under SVSG’s care at the Campus..
It was an initiative that saw children themselves joining the child protection work for the abused children. And what better day to begin this important partnership than on the children’s special day on White Sunday.
Led by Pastor Jordy & Puapuaga Salevao, close to 40 Sunday school children and teachers performed for the children; there was singing, dancing, recital of bible verses and skits.
Pastor Jordy encouraged the children that with God, there is always hope, and despite the different circumstances surrounding their being residence of the Campus, God has a plan for each and everyone of us as per Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
To wrap up the children’s celebration, Pastor Salevao presented a cheque of $1,500 as a gift from children of the SDA Vaiusu mission to the children of hope at the Campus.
Joining the group was the Director of the SDA Children and Women’s Ministries in Samoa, Pelenatete Siaki who liaised with SVSG in coordinating the White Sunday visit. Earlier this year in June, the SDA Children’s Ministry from Lalovaea also spent Sunday morning service with the children of hope.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledged the partnership approach from the SDA Children’s Ministries towards child protection support for the abused children under SVSG’s care. “Thank you so much to the leaders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Children and Women’s Ministries for coming on board to join the support network necessary for the rehabilitation of the abused and abandoned children of Samoa.”
Hundred pink seis, hand made by the children residence of the Campus of Hope were presented today to the Samoa Cancer Society. The pink sei donation is the children of hope’s contribution towards breast cancer awareness currently underway, as per the Pinktober 2018. Included also were pink ribbons to compliment the seis.
According to Mulipola Anarosa Molioo, who spoke on behalf of the SVSG Chair Georgina Lui, “this donation is from the hearts of the children of hope; it highlights their spirit of giving and their willingness to help.”
Mrs. Verona Parker was speechless as she accepted the donation on behalf of the Samoa Cancer Society.
“Thanks is a word we often use to express how we are appreciative of any donation or contribution but it’s a word worth using often because we are very thankful of these beautiful pink seis donated by children at the shelter and the thought behind the donation. Thank you very much,”
While SVSG’s work and that of the Samoa Cancer Society differs, our work share the same objective to support and to help the people of Samoa, because cancer, like violence, does not discriminate. It can happen to any of our loved ones; from our children to our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers.
This was emphasized by Mulipola who highlighted the children’s donation being a sign of an NGO helping another NGO for the good of our people. “The Samoa Cancer Society like Samoa Victim Support are NGOs, and we all know that in order for an NGO to do its work, it needs all the support it can gather from the community.”
Mrs. Parker shared the same sentiments,commenting on how the office have been busy since the first day of October due to donations and contributions from different ministries, NGO’s, schools and the community, standing together to support those who are survivors of cancer and those who continued to fight the illness.
Last year, the SVSG Executive, staff and volunteers swapped their normal yellow uniform for pink, in support of the cancer awareness month. The support initiative will continue every Fridays for the month of October this year. SVSG believes that together, we can increase awareness on cancer, because like violence, cancer does not discriminate;
A Certificate of Appreciation was presented by Mrs. Parker of the Samoa Cancer Society to Mulipola, in appreciation of SVSG’s contribution towards Pinktober 2018.
An impromptu visit turned up at the Campus of Hope gates at Tuanaimato. The Office was not aware of any visitors on that day, and so as the Campus workers.
However, the Pastor’s wife, Selina Batiyaka, mothers from the women’s fellowship and youth members from the Assembly of God Harvest Centre at Lotopa, insisted on the visit as according to Mrs. Batiyaka, “we were given a mission by God to donate particularly to the children at the Campus of Hope.”
After the authorities at SVSG were notified and approved of the visit, the Campus was opened to the members of the AOG Lotopa who were amazed by the serene atmosphere as they walked through the gates, and were fascinated by the Campus as a whole.
But the most captivating moment was when the visitors met the children, whose faces beamed with welcoming smiles as if they knew all along that missionaries will be visiting them. The visit included sharing of testimonies from the visiting youths to encourage the children to remain strong; and was concluded in style when one of the Star Search winners for 2018, James Vito spoke to the children through singing.
Donations of food supplies were presented to assist SVSG with the daily caring for the children as part of the visitors mission. “We want you to know that you are very precious to God which is why He told us in our mission to visit you and donate towards your daily needs.” Mrs. Batiyaka
The AOG Lotopa’s visit continues the partnership SVSG establishes with various church communities throughout Samoa in support of the children of hope. It is a great reminder of God’s love which does not discriminate, but rather, encompass all of us as one.
“Thank you so much Mrs. Selina Batiyaka for continuing to support the work of SVSG. You have not only became one of the facilitators for the SVSG Advocacy Program for women, and now, you have led the women’s fellowship and the youth group of the Assembly of God Harvest Centre at Lotopa, to obey God’s mission for your congregation in this point in time. The children of hope appreciates all of you, and we as their carers, are grateful of your support.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President.
Turning darkness into the light of life was the theme the third year students of the Malua Theological College shared with the children at the Campus of Hope on Sunday.
It was a theme that guided the students missionary work with the children of hope, placing emphasis on how God has transformed the creation as per Genesis 1: 1:“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkeness was on the face of the deep ……..Then God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.”
In leading up to the children’s special day as per the Annual White Sunday celebration, more than 20 third year students and their wives from the Malua Theological College spent the Sunday with the children at the Campus, as part of their ‘Faamasani’ or Practical Ministry program. It has been an ongoing program since it first started with SVSG in 2011.
And every year, the future church leaders educated at Malua have been innovative in their approaches with the children, and this year was no different. Everyone was allocated into 4 teams; the children the wives and the students. This is team building leading up to team work. Next, there were activities, presentations and talent quests, all as a team. From the children with disabilities to the toddlers to the older ones, everyone worked in a team and it was nothing short of hilarious. This is confidence building as part of community engagement.
For most of the students and their wives, this was the first time they have visited the Campus, and it showed. As mothers, the wives were holding the toddlers, others were on the floor working with the children through their paintings and drawings. Others, just observed in amazement at the transformation they saw on each child’s face, despite the darkness of the trauma each child must have endured. This is part of rehabilitation.
According to Reverend Filemoni Crawley, the Lecturer in Practical Theology who lead the visiting delegation, “We wanted to share with the children the love of God, as He wanted us to remind the children that His love will always be a shining light in our hearts.”
From morning until late afternoon, the fellowship continued. The wives hosted a delicious lunch and desert for the children followed by more singing and praising. Time is of the essence as the spirit of God moves amongst the fellowship; one of the experiences that both the children, the students and their wives will never forget.
To ensure that they have a contribution towards the children’s daily caring, donation of food and clothes were presented before a blessed day ended.
“Thank you so much Reverend Maafala Limā, Principal of the Malua Theological College for supporting the sustainability of the parternship between SVSG and the College. This is our collective responsibility towards the abused and the neglected among us. Thank you also to Rev. Filemoni Crawley for coordinating such an innovative program with the students and their wives. You have surely put on a special treat for the children for White Sunday.” Siliniu Lina Chang
The children survivors of violence and neglect under the care of Samoa Victim Support Group at the Campus of Hope, Tuanaimato, cheered the teachers on as they celebrated World Teachers Day this week.
While the request from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, was to have the 26 contestants to the Teachers Day Pageant visit the Campus as part of the pageant program, the children congratulated the teachers in style.
The children danced and sang beautifully which brought the contestant to tears. Because despite the trauma and the horrific nature of the abuses they have endured, their smiles attest to God’s love through their healing.
This is the first year in which the Ministry has hosted a pageant amongst the teachers to celebrate World Teachers Day. And for all the contestants, this was the first time they have visited the Campus of Hope. A memory each of them will take back to their respective schools and shared with their students on the fact that despite the difficulties in life, there is always hope, as seen through the eye of the children of hope.
The teachers donated $200 and gift hampers for the children with an additional $310 collected from the teachers and the children’s entertainment.
“Thank you to the Chief Executive Officer of MESC, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga –Fuatai for including the children of hope in the Teachers Day celebration this year. Thank you also to the Assistant CEO Tauti Jenny Lauano for coordinating the visit.”
“To all the 26 contestants to the Inaugural Teachers Day Pageant 2018, you are all winners to the children of hope.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The rehabilitation programs for the children survivors of abuse cared for at the Campus of Hope are geared towards what is in the best interest of each individual child. While some children are into singing, dancing, reading or gardening, others are more into sports. The latest success story being the Golden Girl Feagaiga Stowers in the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast earlier this year.
Today, a champion in baskeball, Brian Kerle of the Brian Kerle Baskeball Academy visited the Campus for the first time, with young basketall players from Brisbane Australia who are in the country as part of the Ball 4 Change Project by Jada Faanana Schultz and collegues back in Brisbane.
How Brian Kerle ended up at the SVSG office on a Friday afternoon during a scheduled meeting between SVSG and Jada on a different project, is beyond us. However, SVSG is certain that it was not by chance, because there was an immediate connection with the tall champion. In less than an hour, Brian Kerle knew enough about SVSG’s work to confirm his interest to lend a hand.
He started off being an inspirational speaker during the SVSG Tina Faufautua Program, as well as the SVSG Men’s Advocacy Program, for the court referred offenders of violence. In between basketball clinics, Brian Kerle will be seen at the SVSG office ready to spent some time with the young offenders.
The visit at the Campus of Hope reaffirmed Brian Kerle’s belief that “Things happen in our lives for a reason. Today is one of those. We will make it work.”
Promoting health and developing children through sports, the Ball 4 Change project will become one of the possible outlets for the abused children’s anger, hurt and disappointment with the different circumstances that affected their lives. Who knows, there might be some professional basketball players to be recruited from the Campus of Hope.
“Thank you so much Brian Kerle and the team for including a visit at the Campus as part of your schedule as well as the donated goods for the children. We look forward to seeing you all next year. Thank you also to Jada for reaching out to support this important part of SVSG’s work with the abused children, apart from your initial engagement with SVSG to support the newly empowered nofotane women.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Staff members of the District Court Prosecution Division of the Attorney General’s Office visited the Samoa Victim Support’s office bearing donations of food, clothes, shoes and toys for the children survivor of violence cared for at the SVSG shelter facilities – the Campus of Hope.
Under the leadership of Silupevaelai Rexona Titi, the donation was put together by members of the District Court Prosecution Division, as a token of their appreciation for SVSG’s work in collaboration with them at the Family Court.
The work includes the application on behalf of the abused women and children for Interim Protection Orders, the shelter care, the counseling support, the transport to and from the shelters to the Police or the Attorney General’s office for interview; to the hospital for the required medicals.
According to a representative of the Division, Lupematasila Iliganoa Atoa, “SVSG does all its work for free, out of the goodness of your hearts, so here we are, presenting these goods, to show our appreciation of the work that you do.”
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledged the support from the District Court Prosecution Division of the Attorney General’s Office.
“Thank you for including the children survivors of violence cared for at the Campus of Hope, in your charity activity this week. We look forward to seeing you more often in these charitable occasions besides the usual collaborative work we do at the Family Court.”
Children of Hope reverberates ‘Mama Linas’ name in their hearts.
This was the testimony by Ms Kaylin Miller, who is a third year student at Loma Linda University, California. Ms Miller is currently studying for a Doctorate of Psychology.
While observing and assisting children at the School of Hope for two months, she shared about the constant referral by the children to Mama Lina, “We love Mama Lina; or Mama Lina is coming to see us.” ‘Mama Lina’ is what the children of hope called the President of Samoa Victim Support Group, Siliniu Lina Chang.
Ms Miller was amazed, “this was something I never experienced before, witnessing children longing for that “motherly love” all the time”.
“I know that I may be growing up in the States where love should be prioritized all the time, but hey, this is the first time I’ve felt the warmth of such love shared by these children through the guidance of “Mama Lina”, says Ms Miller.
Ms Miller was helping as a teacher aide at the School of Hope, and her psychology background was obvious as she dealt with each child with patient and encouragement.
And Ms. Miller has promised to return. “I will come back and work at SVSG.” In the meantime, Ms Miller is now ready to be one of SVSG’s ambassador in California, to raise awareness about SVSG’s work for the abused children and the need for assistance.
“I will take these memories with me while returning to my hometown and share it with my family, classmates and also tutors at Loma Linda University,” she concluded.
Nofotane – The Woman Behind the Product
Her role in the family is a servant. Her place is usually in the kitchen. She does not have a voice. She is the *nofotane woman. BUT! She is valuable; born a creator with a purpose in life. Empower her, and she will empower her family. It’s a hard fought battle, yet rewarding *Nofotane translates as ‘stay or live with husband’
A glimpse of the Nofotane Story is attached to all the products created by the empowered nofotane women, which are now shared by anyone who wears the products.
The most popular are the red lopa seeds sewn into lanyards, in addition to the hand printed materials (elei), sewn into bags, suitable for meeting, conferences, trainings and other similar occasions.
The latest were 400 participants to the Cutting Edge Conference held in New Zealand from 12 – 15 September 2018, who wore the popular lopa seeds, sown into lanyards by close to 20 self-employed nofotane women (2 from Manono-tai, 1 from Luatuanuu, 1 from Pata Falelatai, and more than 15 women from Foailuga Savaii).
It’s unique, it’s innovative, and it’s specific to the empowered nofotane women and their story of hardship, which makes their empowerment all the more rewarding.
Similarly in Samoa, the nofotane products will be worn by 50 participants to the Pacific Judicial Conference hosted by the Samoa Judicary from 24 – 28 September.
The products include lopa lanyards and printed handbags who will be worn by the 50 participants from New Zealand, Australia, United States of America, Papua New Guinea, Guam, Fiji, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Palau, Niue, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. The extent of the nofotane women’s story of empowerement will now reach the Pacific region through word of mouth, and through the products worn by the participants to these international conferences.
This is part and partial of the sustainability support Samoa Victim Support Group continues to provide for the newly self-employed nofotane women in Samoa.
The ongoing support from the different denominations around Samoa continues for the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse cared for by Samoa Victim Support Group at the Campus of Hope.
The latest was the Church of the Nazareth from Ululoloa, led by Pastor Talomua and Mona Fetaiai and accompanied by members of the Nazarene Theological College.
There was fellowship with the children, sharing, praying and singing in thanksgiving, for despite the difficulties in life, we are always embraced in God’s grace.
Mona encouraged the children to pray for God’s peace and to move forward with forgiving hearts as they each have a purpose in life.
The Nazareth Church of Ululoloa presented various donations during the visit including fire woods, banana, taro, sacks of rice, boxes of noodles, papayas, coconuts, and toiletry supplies.
“Thank you so much Pastor Talomua & Mona Fetaiai, the Nazarene Theological College and the congregation from Ululoloa for your contributions towards the rehabilitation of the children through the spiritual sharing. Thank you also for the food supplies which will assist us with the daily caring of the children.” Siliniu Lina Chang
We lool forward to your next visit to continue our working in partnership as part of the children’s rehabilitation program.
Fire and emergencies can happen any time, any where.
As such, part of Samoa Victim Support Group’s responsibilities as a carer of abused and vulnerable children at the Campus of Hope shelter facility, is to ensure that the children are aware of the safety procedures should an emergency happen.
Ongoing trainings from the Fire and Emergency Safety Authority (FESA) assisted SVSG in ensuring the children’s safety while at the Campus.
During the week, Commander Kueni Alatimu of FESA led the 5-member training team who shared with the children on what to do, where to evacuate to and some assistance required in times of fires or other emergencies. Demonstrations were carried out on how to put out a fire, staying calm and helping others in times of emergencies.
The training motivated some of the children survivors of violence cared for at the Campus to become firefighters themselves as they relate really well to the life-saving nature of FESA’s work.
“Thank you so much to the Commissioner of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, Salā Fa’afouina Mupō for coordinating this training. Thank you also to Commander Kueni Alatimu and the team for being patient with the children during the training session.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
We look forward to ongoing sessions w ith the Team at Tuanaimato for the safety of the children on Campus.
Sarah Amituanai from Sydney Australia visited the children at the Campus of Hope 4 years ago with her dance school and family, and made a donation for the children. According to Sarah, “It was an honour to meet such amazing little souls the first time and they are always on my mind here in Australia.”
Last Friday, Sarah and her family revisited the Campus of Hope during a family trip to Samoa. The family spent time playing with the children while Sarah got to hold some of the babies at the nursery shelter. Sarah and her family donated not only clothes but also some snacks and goodies for the children.
Siliniu Lina Chang, the SVSG President thanked Sarah for revisiting and donating for the children, and for including time spent at the Campus as part of their family visit.
Sarah has pledged another visit to the Campus in the future and to maintain the partnership with SVSG to support the abused children.
The respective leaders in respective Stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints throughout Upolu and Savaii continued to support the Church’s pledge, to assist Samoa Victim Support Group with the daily necessities of the abused children under its care.
The latest donation of food supplies was received from the Upolu Samoa East Stake from Aleipata. Presenting the donation were Stake President Sanele Su’a and Bishop Tusi Toilolo, accompanied by the elderly in the Stake, including Iakopo Ofoalii Kolose, Leoo Masefau, Soo Su’a, Leota Su’a and many others.
Seeing these leaders and the elderly carrying bags of rice, boxes of noodles, bags of taro and banana as part of their contribution towards caring for the abused children, was humbling.
And the donation came at just the right time as Campus was running short of stable food supplies such as taro and banana for the children’s meals.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang was at the Campus of Hope to receive the donation and to acknowledged the hearts of the Church leaders and the individual families in the Upolu Samoa East Stake of Aleipata, for sparing their families food supplies, to give for the abused children.
Acknowledged also is the commitment from the LDS Church leaders for partnering with SVSG for the children’s welfare needs.
Faafetai, Faafetai, Faafetai tele lava
September 2018 will go down in the history of the Samoa Victim Support Group as the day that sets a pathway, for a more collaborative working relationship with an important partner to SVSG and its child protection work.
It was when the focal government ministry for child protection work in Samoa, the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, visited the Campus of Hope at Tuanaimato for the first time since SVSG was established in 2009.
Led by the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Afamasaga Faauiga Mulitalo, the visit included all the management team such as the Assistant Chief Executive Officers of the Ministry; who walked through the practicality of SVSG’s child protection work for the abused, the neglected and the vulnerable children.
The CEO acknowledged with gratitude the existence of a safe place to support, to help and to care for the abused children of Samoa. According to Afamasaga, “visiting the Campus enabled the Management of the Ministry and myself to appreciate the magnitude of SVSG’s work, and now we are in a much better position to help out, despite the visit being long overdue.”
To the children, Afamasaga appealed to them as a mother, reassuring them that their being at the Campus, is not their fault.
The SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang thanked the CEO Afamasaga Faauiga Mulitalo and the management team of the Ministry for taking time out to visit the children at the Campus. Says Silliniu, “SVSG has been looking forward to establishing this partnership with the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development for a long time now, and we are glad at the way things are now progressing for child protection work in Samoa.”
She was born a normal healthy child, she could see, move and cry when she’s hungry. However, at nearly 2 months old, her mother noticed her daughter’s head growing slightly bigger. She was taken to hospital and was referred to a specialist who confirmed that baby suffered from congenital hydrocephalus (an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain).
The doctors observed that Baby Penina’s condition could not be operated on locally. As such, the parents immediately applied for overseas medical treatment since 2014. Further observations confirmed that children with this condition will be lucky if they make it through their first birthdays. The odds were against our brave hearted child.
As her head continues to grow, taking care of her became a challenge to the underprivileged family from Savaii. “This was the beginning of Baby Penina’s journey with the angels,” according to Moega Utuva, Penina’s mother.
Baby Penina was the youngest of 11 children. The parents rely on their plantation for a living. As such, they needed help, and in 2014, the parents sought SVSG’s welfare assistance for Baby Penina which continues to date.
Her birthdays were extra special as it marked another year of God’s grace on our dear child. One year turned to two, three, four and now going on to her fifth birthday in October. Our angel’s journey is all in God’s hands.
To-date, Baby Penina is the only survivor of congenital hydrocephalus out of the many others who were under SVSG’s welfare support, and have since passed on. With the support from the Little Angels Foundation of New Zealand (LAF) since 2016, SVSG has been in a better position to provide for Baby Penina’s daily needs.
Thank you to the Director of the LAF, Taa Lo Tam and the Foundation, for making a difference in the life of this little angel.
When SVSG visited Baby Penina before Father’s Day, the strains of her illness were visible. Her head is much heavier and has grown bigger. According to her mother, Baby Penina now rubs her head and moans every time she goes to sleep, the only signs to know that she is suffering.
Otherwise, she can still eat, laugh and dance, as if she was telling her parents and siblings that all is well. Thank you so much Baby Penina for reminding us all about endurance and valuing the gift of life. Thank you also to the Little Angels Foundation for the donation of $400 presented to baby’s mother during the visit to help out with Baby Penina’s daily needs.
The newly self-employed nofotane women of Savaii are hosting a Nofotane Market for Father’s Day at the Salelologa Market today.
Following the official closing of the Nofotane Project late July, these empowered women continued in their new role as breadwinners for their families.
And what better day to show their husbands that they are there to support, to help, and to care, other than on Father’s Day.
The colorful products on sale at the market attest to the empowered nofotane women’s innovative and creativity. It highlighted women with improved self-esteem as they rise up to support their husbands and their families through the work of their hands.
According to Fouvale Moafanua an elderly nofotane woman of Faletagaloa Safune age 70 years old, who is selling different products that she has printed, sewn and woven “this business is now assisting me in raising my children, paying for their school fees, and all things needed for my family. For so long, I have wanted to be a part of Samoa Victim Support Group to help others, but little did I know that I will be empowered through the nofotane program and become one of the program’s beneficiaries. Thank you SVSG for being a great help to our people.”
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang and some of the staff are in Savaii to support the Nofotane Women’s Father’s Day Market. “For our community in Savaii, please visit the nofotane entrepreneur at the Salelologa Market, buy their products and support their new business ventures, as part of their gifts to their husbands and families for Father’s Day.” Siliniu Lina Chang
A special acknowledgement of the commitment and the dedication from the SVSG village representatives from Savaii who coordinated this event and continued to support the empowered nofotane women through their presence at the Market. Malo le fai o le faiva. Fa’afetai le tautua fa’atamalii.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
This was the message from Pastor Faalili Pepe Ofisa of the Samoa New Testament Church of God at Magiagi, which opened the gathering of reformed men of the SVSG Advocacy Program and the SVSG Alumni, as they came together to celebrate Father’s Day with joyful hearts.
Held at the SVSG Conference Room, the celebration was hosted by the SVSG Alumni for the reformed men of violence that are currently attending the Advocacy Program as well as those who have successfully completed relevant counselling programs.
One of the volunteer facilitators for the program, Mrs. Fiu Leaupepe spoke on behalf of the SVSG President, to congratulate the men on this Father’s Day, and to acknowledge the positive changes they have gone through as reformed men, standing up against violence. Mrs. Leaupepe’s highlighted that “O le mea e i ai le alofa, e leai se popole, ae a i ai se popole, e le lagona. Where there is love, there is no anxiety, but should there be any anxiety, it is painless.”
The celebration was through singing, sharing of stories and reading out poems from the reformed men themselves. There is a healing effect when we are joyful, cheerful people. To be glad, happy or joyful, is when we choose to consider the good that God has done, rather than the misery and the opportunity to be sad and depressed. All of the men shared on anger and how it got the better of them. They all acknowledged the rehabilitation program as a wake-up call for them and a chance to start afresh as reformed men of change.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges the coming together of our fathers under the Advocacy program to celebrate Father’s day together. “Thank you also to the SVSG Alumni for coordinating this event and to Mrs. Tupuiai of Solosolo for the donation of gift hampers for the men which makes the celebration more joyous.”
Happy Father’s Day!
Samoa Victim Support Group congratulated Ms. Esmerelda Lo Tam who was awarded with one of 5 special awards namely the 2018 Asia Pacific Your SDG Innovative Award, during the Asia-Pacific Forum on Youth Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship held in Beijing China from 1 – 3 August.
Esmerelda Lo Tam presented her sports wear line and brand "EI8HT" which hopes to encourage young women to be strong, independent and resilient, not only on the court but in everyday life.
It focuses on public health and better access to high quality, muscle friendly training equipment and training gear.
A well grounded and shy young lady, Esmerelda presented her award to the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang and her SVSG (Junior) collegues upon returning home, to acknowledge their support and prayers
And as a member the SVSG (Junior), Esmeralda has inspired volunteers in the youth sub-group of SVSG to keep pushing the limits with this wonderful achievement. Esmeralda was selected one of the winners from a list of 600 applicants, 19 speakers and the only Pacific Islander to be selected. According to Esmeralda, it is a humbling and blessed experience.
Thank you Esmerelda for instilling the essence of a young woman, to be strong, to be independent and to be resilient in your sports wear brand.
What a great example of hard work,determination and commitment. Congratulations Esmeralda. We are all so proud of you!
She merely heard about Samoa Victim Support Group from a good friend, but it was enough to get Carolyn Rogers to fly 20 hours from Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates, to Samoa to volunteer at the School of Hope.
Carolyn is a New Zealander, a qualified primary school teacher who currently teaches at the Amity International School, a private school 1 hour away from Dubai. She heard about SVSG through her friend Kathy Basire, a criminal lawyer from Christchurch who spent some times in 2017 volunteering for SVSG.
According to Carolyn when she first inquired for a volunteer opportunity earlier in February, “Kathy speaks very highly of the work you are doing and I would really love to come and be a part of it in my summer break.”
And keeping her promise, Carolyn arrived late July and has been volunteering at the School of Hope until late August. It is such a pleasure working with Carolyn. Her teaching and caregiver experience were so obvious in how she dealt with the children at the school. She not only fits in well with the environment, but the children are drawn to her.
Thank you so much Carolyn for sacrificing your summer break to help out the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse cared for at the Campus of Hope. There is no doubt that you volunteered out of love.
When there was not enough money to look after our family, my father becomes frustrated and angry, resulting in my beatings on a daily basis. It started when I was 5 years old. I was the punching bag. The trunk of a banana tree was used to show my father’s anger as well as a Samoan broom. I felt frightened every time I heard my father’s voice outside our home. Other family members including my mother would not stop the beatings for fear of the repercussions. They would stand around while I danced to the brooms tune or carried on with whatever they were doing as if nothing was happening.
One time my sister was the cause of trouble at home but instead of disciplining my sister, again I copped the beatings because I was the punching bag. He was drunk a lot and this contributed to the scars shining like stars on my head, or the ugly bruises on my body. Each scars represented painful memories. One day, I was so scared that after being beaten up so badly, I took refuge at an aunt’s house. It was there that the Police were called and they took me to the SVSG shelter. I was 10 years old.
Since staying at the Campus, I no longer dance to the tune of a broom, my body is healing physically. I am clothed, fed, slept and educated well. I am loved by my family at the Campus, I confided to other children who became my brothers and sisters at the Campus, and who have also been the punching bags of their frustrated parents.
Sadly, my father’s beatings have left an ugly mark on my personality. There are times when I cannot control my anger which led to fighting with other children. I am a kid at 10 years old, and I am still trying to overcome this bad habit In time, I hope I will be able to forgive my father, but for now, the memories are still painful. I pray every night for God’s protection and I know He will heal my inner wounds. One day I hope to become a fire knife dancer, and who know, it could be my future. But for now, my days as the punching bag for my father are over.
“David said, The Lord who delivered me out of the claw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hands of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Go and the Lord be with you”
1 Samuel 17: 37
They came, they saw, and they promised to support the children’s welfare at the Campus of Hope, through a partnership.
And since the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints in Samoa had made this commitment to SVSG, the different stakes throughout Upolu and Savaii have been honoring this partnership through visitation, donation and maintenance work at the Campus.
On Saturday, the Stake President Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling led the youths from the Malie, Tuanai, Faleula and Levi Saleimoa Wards for their usual working bee at the Campus. Accompanying President Puluto were Bishop Lucky Passi, Bishop Vaitoa Lealaitafea and Bishop Saeleai.
More than 60 members from the Wards crowded the Campus. While the men did the lawn mowing, the women were sweeping and weeding while others cheered them on.
In no time, the Campus grounds was all cleaned up. The youth then played some games with the children while the leaders presented donations of bulk food and toiletry supplies as well as the much needed stable food such as taro, banana and coconut for the children.
And before the Wards left the Campus, President Pulotu presented to the youth on violence and its effect on the children ending up at the Campus.
Through engaging the youth of the Church in such community work, President Pulotu hopes that none of them will become a victim or a perpetrator of violence.
The Chair of the SVSG Board, Mrs. Georgina Lui congratulates the LDS Church for remaining true to the partnership with SVSG. “Thank you so much President Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling and the Bishops from the Malie, Tuanai, Faleula and Levi Saleimoa Wards for coordinating such a tremendous support at the Campus of Saturday. You not only cleaned up the whole compound, but you ensured that the children have ample supplies for their daily needs in the next few weeks.”
The interest from families and friends to visit and fellowship with the children at the Campus of Hope attest to God’s beautiful love as it is being shared amongst His people.
Despite being no blood relation or connection, families continue to request via email, phone calls or walk-ins at the Office, to visit the children. In most cases, the families will bear gifts and donations. To SVSG, the most important aspect of these family visits is the heart behind the gesture; the heart to reach out and embrace an abuse child, a neglected child or a troubled one, even if they are not related.
The same was true for the Fiu family from Auckland New Zealand. Word of mouth enabled the connection through friends of the family who visited the Campus earlier this year. Thank you Tanita Naidoo and Mairena Yacoub for advocating for support for SVSG with your families and friends.
The young family has been looking forward to the visit since they planned it. According to Ben Fiu, his wife Ana who initiated the visit as part of their trip to Samoa, was more excited. However, this all changed when they entered the Campus and saw the children, then he knew that the visit was part of God’s appointment for their family, at this point in their lives.
Ben and Ana spoke of their hearts for the children and the love God has for them all. The Fiu family promised the children that this would not be the last time they would visit and be in contact with the Campus of Hope.
Thank you Ben, Ana and Josiah for the heart-warming visit. Thank you also for the donation of $300 that will assist with the daily caring of the children.
“As a promised child, Stephen-Fua can never be too young to take up God’s calling through community service to support young people.” Pastor Tuvai
According to the parents of 9 year old Stephen-Fua of California United States, it took them more than 10 years of praying to get a son. As such, when they had Stephen-Fua, to the parents, he was a promised child. At 5 years old, Stephen-Fua’s parents observed his willingness to help others. He wanted to help children with no shoes, with no food etc.
So while in Samoa, Stephen-Fua’s his parents brought him over to the Campus of Hope so that he can interact with the abused children. This is part of the Stephen-Fua Campaign to reach out and support other young people. It was inspiring to witness the love of God in this young servant and how he has committed his life to helping others.
The children at the Campus were motivated by Stephen-Fua’s campaign, and it challenged them to become agents of change in their communities once they are successfully reintegrated. The children’s interaction with others form part of their rehabilitation program while on Campus.
Pastor Tuvai shared that as parents, they wanted to fulfill their son’s dreams of serving and supporting other children who were less fortunate. He encouraged the children of hope of God’s plans, and how it goes beyond any injuries, scars or heartache they may have experienced thus far. As according to the Jeremiah 29 : “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Stephen returned to America after promising the children of hope that he will return to visit; that he will help out with the programs for the children at the School of Hope. As a promised child with privileges, Stephen feels responsible to help the children in need.
Thank you Stephen for being an inspiration to the children. And thank you Pastor Tuvai and Diana for the donation of food items for the children that day.
The SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang was invited to present during the Catholic Youth Conference over the week. The specific focus of the presentation was on the Campus of Hope, home to the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse; and on the Nofotane Project to address the gender equality issues faced by the nofotane women.
It was an opportunity for the Catholic youth to learn about the SVSG’s work in general, while elaborating on the specific areas as requested.
Held at the Don Bosco School Alafua, President Siliniu talked about the empowerment of nofotane women so that they in turn, can contribute to their family’s daily needs. There have been significant success stories since the Nofotane Project and this was reflected on the role young people play in encouraging their mothers and in future, their own wives in making the home a safer and loving environment.
Speaking from the heart a little more with the Campus of Hope, the devastating effects of sexual and violent crimes, as impacted on the lives of the children sheltered at the Campus of Hope can be prevented when young people choose to make God as the center of a their lives. Seeking wise counsel from elders and staying clear of bad company can mean a productive and promising future.
Thank you very much to the Samoa Catholic Youth for the $200 donation and to the Catholic Youth New Zealand for donating $300 towards the work of SVSG.
Samoa Victim Support Group is only a call away (685) 800-7874. If you have some important information that will save the life of someone close to you or indirectly connected to you please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call.
That decision could be the best one you could make in this life.
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