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”.