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.
Our Campus of Hope has been blessed once again when a group of students from the Lincoln High School of Christchurch New Zealand, gave up two days of their time in Samoa to spend with our children on Campus.
Led by Rachel and Lana, the group came prepared with a variety of fun games and interaction with the children. A treasure hunt saw the usage of the buddy system as the children enjoyed having older brothers and sisters leading them in finding the treasured items.
The children also enjoyed ukulele lessons led by beautiful Ashley Cullen and her friends. Thank you for your time and patience to teach the children to play such happy and fun tunes.
What a wonderful example of young people once again giving selfless service to the community as portrayed by the Lincoln High School students.
Thank you to the students of Lincoln High School who visited the children at the Campus. Thank you for the donation of ukulele, your time, the fellowship and the friendship.
As the 2-year Gender Equality project in which SVSG and the UN Women FGE have been working on since 2016 winds downs to its last few days before completion, a number of set outcomes have been achieved.
One of these outcomes is the increased knowledge of village leaders to speak positively about the economic potential of all women in the village with deliberate inclusion of nofotane women.
At the Women’s Committee fale at Samatau, a record number of close to 140 women gathered for the 35th livelihood training session. The record attendance attest to increased knowledge of the village leaders from the Falelatai & Samatau constituency, to advocate for women to be economically inclusive as per the Nofotane Program.
It was obvious how the village leaders from Matautu Falelatai, Pata Falelatai, Siufaga Falelatai and Samatau gathered at the Women’s Committee fale to cheer the women on, as they have been trained.
Some of the village leaders attended the livelihood session and saw for themselves how the commercial cooking, the fabric printing, the handicrafts and the flower arrangements were done in such a way so that it will enable the generation of income.
Thank you so much to the high chiefs and the village leaders of the Falelatai & Samatau constituency for your commitment to see this project through successfully. Faafetai Manoo Tautai, the SVSG village representative for Samatau for coordinating such a well-attended training.
Most notable also was the unique talents of some of the nofotane women, such as Uaine Taumaloto of Pata Falelatai, who is now using her weaving talent to earn her family close to $500 a week on selling the fala masi or the designed mat and Fetinai Teleiai of Samatau who is now the breadwinner in her family from her ula lopa and woven baskets.
So come the 19th and the 20th of July in front of the Government building, the nofotane women from Matautu Falelatai, Pata Falelatai, Siufaga Falelatai and Samatau will showcase some of their products during the Nofotane Market Days to celebrate the official closing of the project.
“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.
Luatala is a nofotane mother of two beautiful children from the village of Lepa. She lives with her family at her husband’s family at Vaimoso. It was at Vaimos that Luatala joined the Nofotane livelihood training program.
At the training, Luatala was interested in learning how to make small purses from coffee mix trash. She eventually mastered the skill and she is now earning a living to support her family, by selling these small bags.
Even though the beginning years of Luatala’s married life were hard, she still kept going and now everything is falling into place. Luatala is content with her new found talent in making handicrafts and everything is well within her family.
At the same training session at Vaimoso, Patisepa Ropeti Auva’a, the niece of Luatala’s husband was also in attendance.
According to Patisepa, “when I joined this programme I forgot about all the challenges that was facing in my life.”
This programme has given me hope and encouragement when I needed it. I used to feel timid whenever I would have to ask for help but the Nofotane Project really helped me with that.
The SHINE session of the self-esteem module encouraged me to find opportunities to earn money. I am now more hopeful that I too can take care for my children, extended family, village and church. I am now selling elei lavalava and the sky is the limit. Now I can use all the money I’ve earned to help the different communities I am involved with.
The rain this week did not stop the Bishops and the congregation of the Latter Day Saints from the Alamagoto Ward visiting the Campus. In proclaiming the Good News, the Alamagoto Ward’s visit is the continuation of the LDS partnership with SVSG in supporting the welfare needs of the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse cared for at the Campus of Hope.
SVSG President hosted the visiting Alamagoto Ward of the LDS Church, acknowledging the valuable partnership between SVSG and the LDS Church. Through the gifts of bulk food supplies and miscellaneous toiletries, this is the Church sharing the love of God with the vulnerable and the abused.
Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President acknowledged with gratitude the foresight of the Church leaders to have each and every member of the church nationally, contribute towards the daily needs of the children at the Campus. “Thank you so much to the Elders, the Presidents, the Bishops and the church members for honoring our partnership as your way of showing your love for God.”
When young people come together to give back to other young people, it is a beautiful sight to witness and become a part of.
This was the case when more than 40 youth members from all around New Zealand under the Word of Life ministry visited the children at the Campus of Hope as part of their trip to Samoa.
There was a puppet show which had the children in fits of laugher, along with encouraging testimonies from young people building their relationship with God. There was singing and skit performance to further encourage the children to keep believing in good things, as God is good all the time.
Director Tom McIvor from Hamilton New Zealand reiterated the totality of God’s love as per the gospel of John 3:16, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Thank you so much Christina Chricton for coordinating the visit, and thank you to the Word of Life ministry for the fellowship with the children. Please remember our children in your prayers.
President of SVSG Samoa