Close to hundred women, village leaders, husbands and children gathered at the Congregational Christian Chursh of Samoa Hall at Satitoa during the week, to partake in the first of a series of Self Esteem Workshops for the nofotane women conducted by the Samoa Victim Support Group,.
From learning management skills, to improved accessibility to markets, to fostering creativity and innovation through financial literacy, the workshop was well received by the self-employed nofotane women of Tiavea, Samusu, Satitoa, Ulutogia and Lalomanu.
The enthusiastic entrepreneurs brought their children to the workshop; some even brought their husbands. It was obvious that being a breadwinner in their families work wonders in improving the self-esteem of these nofotane women.
Smiling through tears, the participants shared their stories of change. And sustaianbe changes have been noted.
For 39 year old Sipuao Falelua of Samusu, she first attended the Nofotane Program with SVSG in 2017 where she was empowered with a business mind, not only to farm for subsistence living, but also as an income generating activity.
Sipuao talked about how she used to carry 50 packets of cucumber while walking from one village to the next, to sell them. Sipuao braved the rain and the sun for 2 years as a street vendor, until late 2019 when she had saved enough in her Bank Account with the Samoa Commercial Bank, to open a small shop infront of her house. She continues to work the land, but she now has a secured market through her small shop, selling a variety of goods, including produce from her garden.
The workshop is part of a 2-year project titled: Sustainable Income Generation & Self Employment of Nofotane Women. It is in this connection that SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges the funding assistance for this project provided by the European Union (EU) through the Civil Society Support Program (CSSP).
Representatives from the Women In Business Incorporated (WIBDI) and the Samoa Commercial Bank (SCB) joined as SVSG’s partners in conducting the Self-Esteem Workshops for the self-employed nofotane women.
According to Siliniu, “What we have noticed this early into the Project is the support from a collective; the village leaders, the husbands, the children and the business community. While the project is to support the sustainable income generation of nofotane women, we are seeing how it is also leaving no one behind.”
Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) is pleased to announce that the High Commission of Canada in New Zealand through its Canada Fund for Local Initiative, had approved a grant for SVSG to implement a 6-months project entitled “Gender Based Violence Responsive Services for Women, Children and Vulnerable groups in the context of COVID-19.”
Nicolas Sabourin, the Counsellor for the High Commission of Canada (NZ), relayed the good news to SVSG, expressing the Fund’s willingness to work with SVSG once again to support the most vulnerable population in Samoa. “We look forward to working with SVSG on this project over the coming year.”
SVSG has provided frontline services through the operation of a 24 hour toll free Help Line for women, children and those seeking help during the COVID-19 lockdown. This project seeks to strengthen the ‘virtual response’ mechanism withing SVSG to ensure a continued successful intervention against Gender Based Violence (GBV) and the provision of support services to the at-risk population. Alongside the Help Line, this project will also enhance capacity through social media and email correspondence, helping to mitigate the resource and staff pressures currently faced by the Group.
The High Commission of Canada had previously provided support to SVSG through the CFLI oer the years, from 2011 with the compilation of legal information brochures; supporting the livelihood training of unemployed women survivors of violence with disabilities in 2014 and more recently, supporting the income generation activities of self-employed nofotane women in 2018.
According to the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, “the support from local and international partners is vital to SVSG’s ability to scale up delivery of gender based violence responsive services to the most vulnerable groups amidst the global pandemic, and we welcome once more, the working in partnership with the High Commission of Canada New Zealand to scale up delivery of GBV responsive services in the context of COVID-19.”
With Samoa still recovering from the impact of last year’s devastating measles outbreak, and now with the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic effecting the availability of resources and resourcing at a local level, the demand on Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) services has increased significantly in recent months.
The SVSG provides shelter and support to those in need through their Campus of Hope facility, caring for up to 100 women and children seeking refuge from violence and abuse at any given time. Often these survivors are evacuated during the night, with only what they have on, and require everything from the most basic of necessities — food, toiletries and medication — to ongoing help with transport, counselling and health care, and community reintegration support.
To assist SVSG in continuing to carry out their important work, the New Zealand High Commission in Samoa has contributed ST$18,300 to enable the delivery of support and services for the next six to eight months; the bulk of which has been used to stock up on non-perishable supplies and items for Campus of Hope residents.
New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Samoa, His Excellency, Dr Trevor Matheson, will officially hand over items funded by the New Zealand High Commission, to SVSG, tomorrow, Tuesday 7 July 2020, at 10.30am at the Campus of Hope, Tuanaimato.
SVSG President, Siliniu Lina Chang, acknowledges with gratitude and appreciation the positive and proactive approach of the New Zealand High Commissioner, and the New Zealand High Commission team, in supporting women, children and survivors of violence during these challenging and uncertain times.
Women and children can access SVSG help via the 24-hour help line, at 800-7874.