Ms. Coralie Allen, owner of The Kindest Cut salon in Sydney Australia for over 14 years, is in a mission in Samoa at the Campus of Hope, home to children surivovors of violence and sexual abuse. This is Coralie’s second time at the Campus, offering free haircuts for the children survivors thereby Changing Lives One Haircut, One Conversation, One Prayer at a time. In January, Coralie visited with a friend and she vowed to return, and she did.
It was obvious as Coralie cut each child’s hair that she had her heart in her hands. The physical touch, the big hugs, the silent tears. Her action speaks of love, making the children feel loved.
Assisting Coralie wass her brother Robbie and a good friend Uso.With scissors and clippers, the trio worked through half the children on the first day, with the rest to be attended to later in the week.
And that is not all. Coralie has also got the support of her church in Sydney, the Faith City Canterbury, friends and supporters, to fundraise and to donate towards food and other supplies to assist with the children’s daily needs.
Changing Lives One Haircut, One Conversation, One Prayer at a time is Coralie Allen’s mission and according to her, “this is my second time at the Campus and I will keep coming back.”
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang was at the Campus to witness Coralie’s labour of love. “Thank you so much Coralie, your church, family and friends who got behind you in support of your mission in Samoa. Thank you also for supporting the nofotane women by buying the Nofotane Products. Keep on reaching out to the vulnerable members of the community and share God’s love.”
It has been 6 years now since 2012 when Wyong Christian Community School from New South Wales Australia has entered into a parternship with the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), to best love and support the children. The children are none other than the young survivors of violence and sexual abused under the care of SVSG, interacting with a representative of students attending the Wyong Christian School.
It has been a partnership based on mutual understanding, as both the Wyong and the SVSG share a strong foundation based on Christian values and beliefs, ingrained in the respective work of the two organisations.
For this year, Mr. Liney has brought a different group of students to fellowship with the children at the Campus of Hope. According to Mr. Liney, “we have been praying for this trip and the Campus of Hope since planning for it last year.” And the love of God has been shining bright during the Wyong’s visit this year. From the children’s outing at the Liua le Vai o Sina at Faleaseela hosted by Olsen & Jane Vaafusuaga, to their participation during the SVSG Junior walkathon, to their visit at the Campus of Hope, it has been a partnership of love by the children, for the children.
Culminating the visit at the Campus of Hope was a tour at the Skill Building Centre for child vendors located on campus and built with funding from the Wyong Christian Community School. It has been a Centre borne of the gifts from the students of Wyong, which will now see uneducated, underprivileged children being empowered with a skill for their livelihood.
According to SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, “there is always a genuine interest to reach out and to do more everytime Principal Ian and the students visited SVSG.” She went on to acknowledge the partnership of love for the children, established with the Wyong Christian Community School. “Thank you so much Ian, the teachers, the parents and the students of Wyong for continuing to share the gift of love with the children under the care of SVSG.”
The village leaders of Lufilufi are amongst the majority of supporters from the village communities towards the economic empowerment of nofotane women, as the 23rd session of livelihood training reached the Anoamaa East constituency. This was evidence not only by their presence throughout training session, but also through the village leaders who registered to become SVSG village representatives.
The commitment from the village leaders of Lufilufi inspired the 100 nofotane women who attended the livelihood training to learn, to be empowered and to value their purpose.
From trash such as coffee mix sachets and packet of twisties, they mastered the art of creating colorful handbags.
These new creations are becoming a fashion, and have been picked up by local designers to compliment their fashion line wear.
We have the colorful ribbons woven into a lei for men and women, for any occasion. The talents, the enthusiastic and the commitment showed by the nofotane women of Lufulufi to look at their value, their strength and their purpose as, were rewards on their own.
Then we have Niuali Tupai, an unemployed nofotane woman that learned commercial cooking from the livelihood training.
Today, Niuali is a self-employed nofotane woman, earning $100 a day, from selling pork buns at the school canteen, at the bingo games, at village meetings etc. When we visited Niuali, she proudly showed us her products with a confident smile of an empowered woman.
According to Niuali, the livelihood training, the self-esteem module and the support from village leaders, enabled her to realize how valuable she is. “I am a valuable woman. My strength is in my hands. As a nofotane, I have a unique purpose in my family.” It is success stories such as that shared by Niuali Tupai of Lufilufi that highlight the achievement of the project goal in which SVSG and the UN Women FGE have anticipated for the Nofotane Project.
“Thank you so much to the village leaders of Lufilufi for supporting the economic empowerment of nofotane women. We look forward to seeing more families from the village benefiting from the self-employed nofotane women. Because at the end of the day, a nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa, but to see an increased in the women’s participation in domestic and community matters.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President.
She came to us shy and hopeless. According to our teenage girl survivor at the time, “I was rescured and now I know there is hope.”
When the news of Samoa’s Commonwelath Golden girl Feagaiga reached us last night, we were humbled by the extent of her determination to rise up, by her resilience to see hope in her talent, by her successful reintegration.
Fegaiga has come a long way from a shy and hopeless survivor to a champion that she is today. And this is the practicality of the rehabilitation programs at the Campus of Hope, home to Feagaiga for the last five years where she was nurtured to recovery.
At the Campus of Hope, Feagaiga was not into singing, dancing, sewing or cooking, but through weightlifiting, she found a way to release her anger and her sense of hopelessness.
Under a partnership with the Samoa Weightlifign Federation in 2015, some of our girl survivors of violence took up weightlifiting as part of their rehabilitation program, included in them was Feagaiga. Thank you Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, President of the SWF for your commitment to develop the talents of the girls in weightligting.
From the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia to the 2016 Oceania Weightlifing Championship in Fiji to the Oceania Training Camp in New Caledonia, Feagaiga’s story of rehabilitation culiminates with the Gold Medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
With confidence and determinatioin, the once shy teenage girl is now a Champion in her own right; a survivor living life to the fullest outside of the Campus of Hope.
“Congratulations and best wishes Feagaiga. We are so proud of you.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
President of SVSG Samoa