The coming on board of the Crops Divison of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, to join forces with the young climate activists of the Samoa Victim Support Group Junior (SVSG Junior), is a step forward for the climate resilience initiative.
The partnership will see the Crops Division at Nuu supplying seedlings and plants for the Project, while the youths will promote tree planting within the community.
For a start, the Campus of Hope compound will be the first pilot site, with the SVSG Juniors scheduling a fruit tree planting activity on Saturday, 25 January 2020 from 8.30am to 3.30pm.
Close to 20 youth volunteers who helped with the cleaning up of the surrounding environment for some of the families worst affected by the measles, will join in the climate resilience initiative.
The youths believe that educating our own families on ways to help conserve and preserve the environment is their contribution towards climate change action.
From sorting out waste and recycle materials to proper composts to tree planting, we are helping with the pressing need for action to allieviate the effects of climate change.
“Thank you so much Moafanua Tolo Tiosefa, the Assistant Chief Executive Officer for the Crops Division at Nuu, for being so accommodating towards our needs for plant and seedling supplies for our project. We are excited of what lies ahead of us with this climate resilience initiative.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The leaders of the Upolu Malie Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints represented the congregation in sharing the love of God with the children of hope as per the Church’s normal offering.
This was through a variety of donated supplies, from food to toiletries to taro, bananas and coconut; there was an abundance of blessings, shared by the Church with the children.
What a start to the new year.
The visit by the Upolu Malie Stake forms part of the LDS Church’s commitment to a partnership with the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), to support the welfare needs of the children survivors of abuse under the care of SVSG.
The donation came at just the right time as the children’s supply of stable food has been very low.
How merciful is our God.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledged the partnership with the LDS Church. “Thank you so much President Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, President Tema Siaunuua and President Sikuava Ajawas for coordinating this timely sharing of God’s blessings to your families, with the children of hope. We look forward to a successful year ahead for us all.”
Reverend Muaiava Malaki, Chair of the Samoa Council of Churches in Wellington New Zealand handed over a donation of ST20,000 to the President of Samoa Victim Support Group, Siliniu Lina Chang
Two members of the Samoa Council of Churches in Wellington New Zealand, accompanied the Chair of the Samoa Council of Churches in Wellington New Zealand, Reverend Muaiava Malaki, to officially handed over the donation of ST20,000.00 to the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG).
The donation came at the beginning of the new year while SVSG is working on sourcing out finds to finance its annual budget.
According to Reverend Muaiava, “we are here to convey the Council’s gratitude and appreciation to the Samoa Victim Support Group for the tremendous work you do for our country, especially in providing a refuge for the abused children.”
The donation will greatly assist with the operations budget for the Campus of Hope shelter facility which is the temporary home for close to 80 children ages 5 months to 18 years of age at the moment.
Over the years, the Samoa Council of Churches in Wellington New Zealand have been assisting SVSG and its work where possible, from fundraising events to monetary donations.
Receiving the donation was Siliniu Lina Chang, the President of Samoa Victim Support Group.
“Thank you so much Reverend Muaiava Malaki and the Samoa Council of Churches Wellington, for remembering the work of SVSG in your charitable donation this year. The donation will help us cover overheads and other operational costs for the Campus of Hope.”
Members of the SVSG Measles Outreach reckons that Fatima Filia Solomona, a 37 year old mother of seven children from Luatuanuu, is one of the bravest heros of the measles epidemic thus far.
With her husband Filia Solomona being the 80th victim of the measles who passed away just days before Christmas, Fatima gathered around her seven children ages ranging from 1 to 17 years old to thanked SVSG for reaching out to them.
And having worked with families like the Solomona’s for years, where the father is the sole breadwinner, the Outreach Team understood the dilemma faced by Fatima, yet, she showed us nothing else but a brave smile.
Fatima and her children were amongst the 14 families who were referred to SVSG via the Help Line or the social media, for assistance during the festive season as they mourned the loss of their loved ones to the measles. Leading SVSG village representatives for Luatuanuu, Faletua Valasi Aila Patea is tasked with monitoring Fatima’s family and reporting to SVSG on its progress.
At Nuu-fou, the Outreach Team travelled further inland from the main road to reach the 71 year old grandfather Mataio Matamata, whose 18 months old grandson Novema was lost to the measles.
According to Lui and Caroline Mataio, the grieving parents of Novema, “we have just moved to Nuu-fou 7 months ago, built a home and cultivated the land, only to loose our baby to the measles.”
Missionaries from Missouri, Jim and Mindy Wiese who were part of the outreach team encouraged Mataio Matamata and the family to keep the faith as the God of healing is always in control through His merciful love and grace.
The Outreach Team covered six villages of Luatuanuu, Vaiusu-uta, Nuu-fou, Vaitele-fou, Palisi and Leauvaa in response to our people’s call for assistance.
From Day 1 to Day 15, the SVSG Measles Outreach 140 families with a total of 66 deaths from the measles.
This is a huge coverage achieved only through the love of God planted in our people’s hearts, both here and abroad, to lend a helping hand to our families in need.
“We are humbled by it all as we continued to serve with a joyful heart, bringing forth God’s healing to the parents and children who have lost loved ones to the measles. Thank you to the Wellington Housing of New Zealand for the donation of $200.00 as well as Le Teine Polynesian Dance Group from Australia that donated $1,200.00 towards the Measles Outreach. Faafetai! Faafetai! Faafetai lava” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The young climate activists of the Samoa Victim Support Group Junior (SVSG Junior) have utilized the youth’s monitoring and evaluation role for the SVSG Measles Outreach, to promote a healthy living and a clean environment for the affected families.
The target for the climate activists before returning to school late January, is to reach the most vulnerable families based on the needs assessment carried out bye the Measles Outreach, focusing on the families who have lost loved ones to the measles,
Initiated by one of the SVSG Junior members, the 16-year old Marion Tavai-Fruean who have been travelling with the Measles Outreach team since Day 1, Ms. Fruean saw poverty, overcrowded households and poor living conditions, as some of the common factors amongst 90% of the affected families visited by the SVSG Measles Outreach.
Close to 20 youth volunteers cleaned up the surrounding environment of families at Leififi, Sogi, Vaimoso, Pesega while at the same time, showing the young family members how to sort out waste and recycle materials rather than dumping them in the backyard. “It breaks my heart to see children living in such poor living conditions; and it makes my friends and I appreciate what we have because the children from most of the families we have reached are not as fortunate.” Ms. Fruean.
Seeing is believing, and for most of the young activists, what they have seen is the reality of the struggle faced by our families, and the damage to the environment from not disposing of waste properly.
After the hard day’s work, the youth gathered 34kg of alluminium and steel which earned them $30.00 for more cleaning materials and detergent as the clean up work continues.
“Thank you to the parents of the young climate activists for allowing your children to do their part in addressing the priority concern for our environment, while bringing a smile to the faces of the vulnerable familes affected by the measles.” Siliniu Lina Chang.
The resilience of our surviving children highlighted Day 13 of the SVSG Measles Outreach, as the Team visited 10 families from the 7 villages of Vaovai, Salani, Sataoa, Pesega, Sinamoga, Tanugamanono and Sogi.
While eight (8) children from these families have been lost to the measles; 40 more surviving children curiously greeted the Outreach Team; some with a stare, a smile, a hug while a few others looked beyond us as if they were in a daze.
This is the resilience of children; something that should be nurtured as we take stock of the mental effect of the measles on our people. The surviving children should be observed for their ability to bounce back from the trauma surrounding the loss of their siblings to the measles.
The Psychosocial support volunteers observed that while the younger children were drawn to the colorful balloons, the grown ones hesitated at first, but eventually came around to collect their pair of shoes kindly donated by missionaries Jim and Mindy Wiese from Missouri.
The grieving parents were encouraged to see things through their children’s eyes; to be more adaptable and braver.
According to Fipe Fao of Sataoa, “Despite the pain of losing our 12 year old son Foalima, all so sudden, I have to be strong for my surviving children.”
There is no doubt that Fipe’s courage is shared by all the parents who have lost children to the measles; and with time, it should help heal the pain.
SVSG’s Outreach reassured the grieving families that they are not alone. A needs assessment identified further support to be followed suit. Basic food and toiletries were provided while information on healthy living and eating from what is available around their backyard, were shared.
SVSG therefore acknowledged the support from our families and friends, whose financial and in kind assistance enabled us to reach 115 affected families who have lost 55 of their loved ones to the measles.
“Thank you to PastorLene Molia and the congregation of the Au Uso Kerisiano Ranui Church of New Zealand for donating NZD1,000 / ST1,661.00 towards the Measles Outreach. Thank you also to the Ashburton Community in Canterbury New Zealand for the fundraising BBQ and baking sale which collected NZD1,000 you have donated via the Givealittle for those affected by the measles. Sending our families Alofa from the Ashburton Community.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The Christmas and the New Year brought an assortment of presents for Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) and its work; some wrapped up in colorful wrappings, others in boxes with frills, while others come in the form of a blessed soul.
This is true for the Jesus Waymaker Group from Seattle Washington, born out of the conviction of a young man name Brandon Afoa, whose life-changing accident in 2007 left him triplegic, and led to his falling in love with worshiping Jesus, the Waymaker.
Brandon’s story is a familiar one to SVSG and its work with the victims of life’s unfortunate twist of events. An eldest child who moved from American Samoa to Seatle to support his family, an accident at work severed his spine. He was suicidal, just like the victims that come through our doors, but according to Brandon, “I serve a big God, bigger than my problem, bigger than what I’m going through.”
Therefore, having members of Brandon Afoa’s Group, the Jesus Waymaker sat down with the President of SVSG, to find out more about SVSG’s work and how the Group can help out, makes this opportunity a blessed gift for SVSG. It puts us in a perspective of God’s bigger plans for Brandon Afoa and his love of worshipping God through helping others.
“Thank you so much Brandon for sharing your love of God with SVSG. You have only heard of us, yet, you reached out wanting to know more about the work we do. We are excited of what God has planned for us through this partnership. The donation of $1,000 for the children’s Christmas treat is greatly appreciated.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
“Thank you also to Bishop Dr. Atiumaletavai Elia Esera and Pastor Amy Tavai of the Alofa Tunoa Ministries of Amerika Samoa for putting us into contact with Brandon and his team.”
Levi and Fia Taito of Seattle Washington accompanied their parents, children and family members to a visit at the Campus of Hope, before the Group returned home over the weekend.
Known as the the Taito Family Ministries: Lend a Hand, the Group had been fundraising in Seattle towards a Resource Centre for the children at the Campus with the possibility of extending the Resource Centre to the youth in the community.
The family visit at the Campus was therefore an opportunity to share their love of music with the children of hope, and to finalize plans for the construction of the Resource Centre. It was the first visit to the Campus since it was closed off to visitors and volunteers late October as precautionary measure due to the measles outbreak.
The SVSG Junior utilized the Taito Family visit to showcase the youth’s music talent through entertaining the guests with local songs including the popular theme song for the Measles Epidemic, courtesy of Mark Su’a.
While visiting the children, the Taito Family provided them with lunch and a donation of ST3,000.00 plust miscellaneous food and toiletry supplies.
Prior to visiting the children at the Campus, the Taito Family took part in the SVSG Measles Outreach to the some of the families at Leauvaa who have lost children to the measles; offering food supplies, toiletries and comfort through the word of God.
“Thank you so much Levi & Fia, and the family for spending some time with SVSG while you were in the country; helping out with the Measles Outreach, and visiting the children at the Campus of Hope.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President