The nofotane women from Laulii, Leusoalii, Luatuanuu, Solosolo and Eva have joined the Samoa Victim Support Group and the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality efforts, to address women’s economic disadvantage through their economic empowerment. The training was centred at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Hall, Luatuanuu and attended by more than 100 women.
On this 22nd session of livelihood trainings of the Nofotane Project, there was a noted gradual change in community attitudes and behavior towards the economic empowerment of nofotane women. This was evidence by the support from village and church leaders who attended the training sessions just to offer support towards the women. For the husbands, they happily tended to the reversed roles of taking care of the children, attended to their food and things at home while the women attended the training.
This is the kind of support from both women and men, necessary to break down stereotypes and gender roles responsiblilities in the home, employment and community.
While handicraft, elei printing and commercial cooking were the most popular skills selected by the nofotane to be trained on, the highlight of the 22nd session was the youth groups, who were more interested in flower arrangements. This was because the trainer is a member of the SVSG (Junior) volunteer and a transgender, who represented this third gender well, in the economic empowerment of women. And SVSG encourages the involvement of the community to address gender equality without discrimination as we were blessed to have Daisy Toloa, our floral arrangement expert, being part of the training team
It was during the demonstration of the self-esteem module, the SHINE program emphasizing value, purpose and worth that provided a fitting ending to the livelihood session at Luatuanuu. The women were encouraged, as the program appealed to their self-esteem, necessary for them to rise up as valuable women that they are in our families and communities. As empowered women, positive changes are in store for these women, their families and communities.
“A nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa. The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President.
A foreigner who has now called Samoa home, walked into Samoa Victim Support Group’s main office in Apia, to fulfill something God placed in her heart when she moved here in 2014, to lend a helping hand.
She first found out about SVSG through a billboard and she knew she wanted to be a part of the Group. However, according to her, “I thought I was too busy to help and I was not financially stable to be able to help others.” She is none other than Mrs. Sioa Havea Tuionetoa, owner of a new fashion house in town.
Through her story, Sioa shared an Easter Message for us all, and an encouragement for the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse cared for at the Campus of Hope.
We just opened a fashion boutique last November called House 88 Boutique. Located at Amau Mall in Saleufi, we supply formal gowns, cocktail dresses, perfumes, brand handbags and jewellery. We cater mainly for women, however we have a few items for men like colognes and ties. They are gift ideas for women to get for their husbands or boyfriends, so ultimately we supply for women only. It does not mean we have anything against men; I have an amazing father, brothers, husband and a son. My staff, whom are all female also have important male figures in their lives. But we are a team of women and we are all about empowering women. When we heard that majority of the victims in SVSG were women it was only natural for us to reach out to them and there isn't a better time to take action than now.
We are approaching Easter this weekend and it’s a time where we remember the sacrifice that our Savior, Lord Jesus Christ made for us. He was abused and was beaten down to death. But He rose again and conquered all. It’s the perfect time to remind all victims even though you are used, abused and beaten down, you will rise up and overcome this obstacle and achieve great things in life.
To celebrate this Easter the team at House 88 will support SVSG by donating 50% of all sales made from all Cross Styled earrings in store. We have a variety of cross styled earrings to choose from. They are very trendy and sure to last longer than hot cross buns. When I met with Lina (President of SVSG) she asked “Sioa is it going to be OK for your business?” I didn't tell her this at the meeting but one of the things I’ve learned from my father is that no one has ever gone poor from giving. Giving will not jeopardize anything or anyone. Lina, you are truly amazing, your courage, your heart not forgetting your team- working endless hours to support victims. This is the beginning of a life-long relationship with SVSG. House 88 wishes the SVSG and all of Samoa a Happy Happy Easter.
On behalf of the SVSG Patron and the Chair of the Board, I welcome Sioa and her family to be a part of the growing SVSG family. Thank you for your heart, and thank you for reaching out to lend a helping hand.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The Campus of Hope was transformed into a playground for a Fun Day activity coordinated by the Mesepa International Ward (MIW), a Youth Group of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints from American Samoa.
Made up of more than 50 LDS youth from stakes of the Church in American Samoa, the MIW paid a side visit to the children at the Campus of Hope while in Samoa for their annual visit to the Mormon Temple. The Youth Group organized fun games, lunch and snacks for the children as well as a hired bouncy castle to the children’s delight.
The children of hope acknowledged the generosity of the youth group through singing and dancing and a relationship was established there and then.
While it was the MIW’s first time at the Campus, it definitely will not be the last as a new partnership has been formed.
President Aomalo Suesue spoke on behalf of the youth group leaders, to acknowledge the work of SVSG, and the love that emanates from around the Campus of Hope.
SVSG President hosted the youth group and expressed her gratitude to its leaders for coordinating the visit and the fun day activity for the children. “The LDS Church in Samoa plays a crucial role in sustaining the shelter management service that we provide for our children in need, and to have you here today, is testament of the extent of the Church’s reach to supporting the most vulnerable. Thank you so much Bishop Andrew Craig for initiating the visit.” Siliniu Lina Chang
The Samoa Police Women Advisory Network or the SPWAN today continued with its tradition when celebrating the International Women’s Day.
The tradition saw the Network honoring the work of Samoa Victim Support Group year after year, for the children survivors of violence and sexual abused under its care, through in kind donations of various supplies for the children’s daily needs.
During the presentation of the donation, the President of the SPWAN Senior Sargent Efo Moalele commented on the Police’s relationship with SVSG. According to the Senior Sargent, “The Police can’t do its work without the support of SVSG. The partnership has therefore makes our work much easier.”
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang thanked the President of the SPWAN and the Network for recognizing the work of SVSG this time every year.
“SVSG will continue to support the work of the Police through our partnership.” Siliniu Lina Chang
Samoa Victim Support Group honors three groups of women within its support programs today as the world celebrated the International Women’s Day.
First, we have the women and girls survivors of violence; second, we have the rehabilitated women champions of violence and thirdly, we have the volunteer women, who are the backbone of SVSG’s support services.
At the Campus of Hope, the rehabilitated women champions of violence under the SVSG’s Tina Faufautua program, joined the children survivors of violence and the women volunteers, to share their stories in celebrating their rise up.
The testimonies were very powerful, as the rehabilitated women champions of violence saw for themselves the reality of the abuse suffered by the children from within their families, as evidence by the many children residence at the Campus. Seeing is believing, as the women saw for themselves the extend of SVSG’s work which prompted their willingness to help out through a vegetable garden for the children.
To end today’s celebration, the volunteered mothers behind the Tina Faufautua program were honored for their hard work, their commitment and their contribution in rehabilitating women champions of violence. Mrs. Milo Cortz and Sister Schwenke were amongst the facilitators of the program honored today.
Last but not the least, one of SVSG’s eldest village representative, Mrs. Faamomoi Taituuga was visited today in honor of her volunteer work for SVSG. She was humbled but thankful to SVSG for continuing to support our people in need.
“At the end of the day, whatever we have achieved, the glory and honor should return to our Heavenly Father while we humble ourselves as unworthy servants.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Come the 8th March 2018, the world will once again come together to celebrate the International Women’s Day. On the theme ‘Press for Progress’ to accelerate gender parity as a global momentum, Samoa Victim Support Group is positioning itself accordingly through its various programs.
We have the Tina Faufautua Program which provides counseling rehabilitation for women offenders of violence referred from the Family Court. This is SVSG making progress in addressing family violence in Samoa. While statistics on case referrals from the Courts to SVSG in 2017, recorded 33% being women compared to 67% of men, SVSG’s program for both men and women takes holistic approach in addressing family violence. The families, village and church leaders of the reformed offenders attested on the behavioral changes in the lives of these mothers following the counseling rehabilitation.
The press for progress in the economic empowerment of women saw one of the most vulnerable groups of women in Samoa, the unemployed nofotane, being trained on livelihood skills for income generation and self-employment.
From July 2017 to February 2018, Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) has been providing livelihood training workshops for over 2,000 unemployed nofotane women as part of its economic empowerment program with UN Women Fund for Gender Equality.
From these 2,000+ trained nofotane women, 400 have started small businesses and have earned an income from the skills being trained on. Some of the nofotane products such as beauty accessories were showcased recently by the models during the MaugaLui fashion house show. The nofotane women are therefore making positive gains day by day towards gender parity.
At the Campus of Hope, the young girls who are survivors of sexual abuse have made press for progress in their rehabilitation programs, thanks to the Star Foundation and the ‘With and For Girls’ Award won by SVSG in 2016.
“So while the International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific, SVSG is glad that it has contributed to accelerating gender parity in Samoa. Collectively, let's all Press for Progress.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
President of SVSG Samoa