Close to 30 adolescents in Siumu became the second group of young people to be empowered through life skills training as part of the 2-year program by the Samoa Victiim Support Group, to address violence against children.
These are the children selected from the community based on the identified need for support; to improve their knowledge, attitude and practice in order to better deal with adolescent development. At the same time, the life skills training empowers the adolescents to better protect themselves.
The sharing by the adolescents at the Siumu session shed some light onto the relationship between life skills for adolescent and positive discipline for the parents.
According to one of the 12 year old female who participated in the training, she used to think that a smack, a hit or a punch is a normal part of discipline, given that her parents normally used objects such as a broom, a belt, or a stick to discipline her. This revelation was shared while the parents of the adolescent were attending the training on positive discipline.
A male adolescent age 14 brought up the topic of corporal punishment in schools; as he recalled the teachers are now being prohibited from hitting any student as a form of discipline. He however shared that the verbal and emotional abuse have replaced the corporal punishment, with the impact on the students being much worst than the former.
The views as shared by the adolescents participating at the life skills training at Siumu, highlighted the need for the positive discipline trainings for parents and caregivers to be extended to include teachers and other adults dealing with children.
There are 7 communities targeted by the community prevention program for child protection; 6 in Upolu and 1 in Savaii.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges the partnership with UNICEF Pacific to address child protection through working with the targeted communities.
A state of the art security system for the residents at the Campus of Hope shelter facility, will be officially launched on Friday, 30 July 2021 at Tuanaimato.
The project is a work of love, kindly sponsored by Bluebird Lumber and Hardware at the total equipment cost of ST32,527.00. The security camera system was installed free of charge by Cyrus and Rosie of Comptech at a cost of ST13,440.00 bringing the total cost of the project to be launched and handed over to Samoa Victim Support Group, to ST45,967.00.
There are 26 security cameras installed throughout the Campus, all connected to a CCTV system. The project definitely sets a new dawn for the Campus with regards to its security.
It came at a time when just recently, two additional houses were opened to cater for the increased demand for refuge, for the children and women survivors of violence and sexual abuse.
With close to 100 children and women survivors being accommodated at the Campus facility at any one time, their safety will be monitored effectively through the newly installed security system.
The Managing Director of the Bluebird Lumber and Hardware, Afioga Tuiaopo Faamausili Andrew Ah Liki has been at the forefront of this project from the start. The General Manager and Board Member of BBL, Ms. Faina Ah Liki will speak on behalf of the BBL Board of Directors when she hands over the security system to the SVSG Board.
“As the Chair of the SVSG Board, I acknowledge with sincerity Afioga Tuiaopo Faamausili Andrew Ah Liki and family, for including the residents of the Campus of Hope as the beneficiaries of your ongoing work of love for the most vulnerable members of our community. Thank you also to Cyrus and Rosie for your valuable contribution to the work of love project. Together, we are making a difference, one life at a time..” Georgina Lui, Chair of the SVSG Board
About the Spotlight Initiative Programme:
The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
Launched with a seed funding commitment of €500 million from the European Union, the Pacific region has one regional programme and four country programmes of which Samoa is one of them that has received USD 4.3 million under the Spotlight Initiative’s €50 million envelope for the Pacific region. The Spotlight Initiative's focus for the Pacific Region, including Samoa, is Domestic Violence (DV) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).
The Spotlight Initiative places an emphasis on the role, leadership and engagement of civil society organisations to leverage the government ongoing efforts in soliciting people’s commitment to address DV/IPV.
The overall coordination, monitoring and reporting and communications and advocacy of the Spotlight Initiative programmes are the roles vested with the UN Resident Coordinators Office and it is implemented by five of the UN agencies including the UN Women as the Technical Lead, the UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNFPA.
About the Spotlight Initiative – Samoa Victim Support Group Programme on “Mobilizing Creative Sector and Traditional Institutions For Ending Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence"
There are 8 different villages where this project is being implemented. 7 in Upolu and 1 in Savaii. The project theme is ‘My Village. My Pride’ – ‘O lo’u Nuu, O lo’u Mitamitaga’. The project objective is to make the traditional leaders, youth and artists take courageous and creative actions to end domestic and intimate partner violence. It is believed that traditional Samoan culture supports male respect for women and girls. However, Samoan society has been undergoing changes. These changes have created another reality that legitimizes violence as traditional values give-way. Despite this, there is very little discussion about Samoan culture and what it has to offer for respect for women and girls in the families and in intimate relationships. Often “culture” itself is attributed as a factor of violence. Using our cultural traditional arts as a medium to discuss sensitive issues such as gender based violence is community oriented and appropriate. They key messages we focus on disseminating throughout the project are:
Through the use of performing arts and the mobilizing of our traditional institutions, we can spread the key messages of the Spotlight campaign. While considerable resources have been spent in Samoa on issues of gender equality, few have engaged the traditional and modern forms for arts as a method of building capacity for grassroots mobilization for social justice and ending domestic and intimate partner violence. This sub-project of the Samoa Spotlight Initiative is to use traditional performing arts in conjunction with traditional institutions to make community based transformative justice an option and community accountability a subject reality. Expected project outcomes are the numerous opportunities for potential positive transformative pathways to create spaces for women and girls through the use of creativity, knowledge and skills expressed by generations.
In the village of Satitoa on Friday 30 July from 6pm, SVSG together with the SVSG Village Representatives have coordinated a second performing arts awareness competition.
There are 3 categories to the Performing Arts Awareness Competition:
1. Debate on a topic provided by the village. In the village of Satitoa it will focus on the topic:
O Tina, o le Ola o se Aiga (based on a well in Satitoa that existed through the women's hard work)
The women's team will argue in support of the topic. The men's team will be on the opposing side
The debate topics are chosen by the villagers’ themselves so they differ from location to location.
2. Four teams will compete in the Women's Performing Arts Competition - based on the different artefacts from Satitoa that either addresses violence or promotes peace and pride in one’s community.
3. Four teams will compete in the Youth Performing Arts Competition - same as the women, except, the youth includes contemporary performance.
There are 15 UN organizations in Apia that form the UN Country Team serving the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau: FAO, ILO, UNDP,UNCDF, UN Volunteers, the Global Fund & Small Grants Programme, UNEP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women, WHO, WMO, OCHA.
The implementation of UN programmes, are led by government ministries; in partnership with international and regional organizations, the private sector, non- governmental organizations, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations and the media.
For more information on the UN Country Team Samoa please visit:
UN Samoa website: samoa.un.org
Email Contact : email@example.com
Sixteen (16) members of the Samoan Women’s Association of Growers (SWAG) and the Informal Garden’s Group (IGG) have grown themselves a garden within the Campus of Hope shelter facility, while at the same time, have the opportunity to spend time with the children survivors residing there.
The banana patch which has been set up between the House of Dreams and the Ray of Hope shelters, is the latest addition to the work of love that makes up the Campus of Hope.
Last Saturday’s activity saw a group of growers appreciating the space given to assist with the sustainability of the shelter facility while at the same time, contributed to serving the children a scrumptious lunch.
It was a community engagement for the growers and part of healing for the children survivors. To know that they are well loved, and have the support of the community, works wonders towards the healing and recovering of the children.
Thank you to all the members of the SWAG and the IGG that chipped in to make this activity an exciting one for the children.
“Fa’afetai lava Mika Maiava for coordinating such a healthy event last Saturday. The children look forward to seeing you all back at the banana patch soon.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Violence against children (VAC) remains one of the major issues in Samoa, with 40% of the cases lodged with the Samoa Victim Support Group over the last 5 years, involving children who have experienced violent discipline in their homes. This is perpetuated by parents and caregivers thinking that physical punishment is necessary to raise or discipline their children.
These alarming figures concerning children in Samoa convinced SVSG to propose a holistic community preventive and child protection programme to UNICEF. The program is two-fold; first it targets parents and caregivers to have increased knowledge and skills to eliminate harmful practices; and secondly, it teaches adolescents life skills to better protect them from violence and abuse.
SVSG had developed learning modules for parents and caregivers on ‘Positive Discipline Parenting’ as well as ‘Life Skills for Adolescents’ based on resources from the UNICEF Creating Connections and Save the Children, contextualized to fit the Samoan context.
During this week, SVSG had started work with one out of the seven (7) focused communities selected for this program (6 in Upolu and 1 in Savaii).
At the Assembly of God Church Fasitoo-uta, parents and adolescents were introduced to their respective learning program over the next 2 years. Accountability measures have been put in place to assess any changes in knowledge, attitude & behavior, and practice for the parents with their positive disciplining skills; and for the adolescents towards learning life skills to better protct them from violence and abuse.
The SVSG village representatives at Fasitoo-uta have been tasked with mobilizing the most suitable parents and adolescents to benefit from this program. Thank you Aeimanū Tinetali Talavave, Leaupepe Amosa, Lolotauama Eseta and Akenese Matavao for the important role that you continued to play in achieving objectives of the relevant SVSG programs at Fasitoo-uta.
UNICEF Pacific and SVSG have been collaborating for child protection in Samoa since 2015. A collaboration that is vital in ensuring quality services for children in need of care and protection.
“Thank you to the UNICEF Pacific team in Suva as well as your local counterpart, for supporting SVSG in taking ownership of this primary prevention program in our community.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President.
While considerable resources have been spent in Samoa on issues of gender equality, few have engaged the traditional and modern forms of arts as a method of building capacity for grassroots mobilization for social justice, and ending domestic and intimate partner violence.
This sub-project of the Samoa Spotlight Initiative is once again, taken up by Samoa Victim Support Group, as the implementing partner of the UNESCO Pacific.
On the theme ‘My Village; My Pride’ – O lo’u Nu’u, O lo’u Mitamitaga, the programme will build on a performing arts campaign, using creativity and culture that aim to raise awareness while changing attitudes at the village level towards ending domestic and intimate partner violence; this is expected to have cascading benefits to all members of the village.
For the last three months, SVSG have been working with 8 targeted villages for this program (7 in Upolu and 1 in Savaii). SVSG initiatlly engaged the expertise of these village leaders on a research project with the University College of London, to develop a new approach to researching violence against women and girls that is uniquely Samoan. Part of the work being done todate by the village leaders, is the collecting of artefacts (myths, proverbs, photographs, drawings, maps) about the reasons why they think violence against women happens or how their village is preventing it. These artefacts is the basis for the performing arts awareness campaign in each of the 8 targeted villages for this Samoa Spotlight Initiative Program.
The performing arts awareness will be rolled out in the form of a 3-category competiton, between men, women and youths within each of the 8 villages. There will be a debate category amongst village leaders (men against women) on the village’s selected artefact; a women’s open category and a youth’s category, both competing on traditional dance, song or drama on the same.
The first village to kick start the performing art awareness on Thursday this week is Satalo Falealili. The community at Satalo, from the church leaders to village leaders to men, women and youth, are all hyped up for the event.
The whole idea, is to rebuild a sense of pride in ones own village (as per the awareness theme), in order for the selected village communities to take up ownership of eliminating domestic and intimate partner violence from within.
The outcome of the programme should see an increased recognition and support by the village leaders in the 8 selected villages, of the combined contributions of its members in ending domestic and intimate partner violence; and an increased awareness by the villagers of its traditions and how reliving such traditions (through performing arts), will support a community-based approach to ending domestic and intimate partner violence.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges once again the work in partnership with the Samoa Spotlight Initiative, specifically as a partner of the UNESCO Pacific, in addressing domestic and intimate partner violence against women, through performing arts awareness.
Much has been said about the strength of a woman, and the Samoan proverb “E au le inailau a tamaitai.”, which literally means, “The women’s row of thatch was completed.” is one such tribute to a woman’s strength.
But metaphorically, the self-employed nofotane women of today have translated this strength into total achievement as evidence by their improved self-esteem, their rise up against domestic violence in the homes; their participation in family and community matters, and their contribution to the economy as earners of their hand made and home grown products.
Close to 50 nofotane women from Faasaleleaga in Savaii were just some of these women of strength. Gathered at Vaiafai Iva, nofotane women from Tuasivi, Fogapoa, Vaisaulu, Lalomalava, Vaiafai, Fusi, Sapapalii, Salelologa and Safua attended the 18th SHINE Workshop as part of the Sustainable Income Generation Project in which Samoa Victim Support Group is currently working on through funding support from the European Union.
According to a mother of 5 and a nofotane woman survivor of violence who is now an entrepreneur in her village at Tuasivi, “I used to tolerate the physical and the mental abuse by my husband, the demeaning words and the constant chasing away from the home, most of the time, while our children watched in silence.. I had nothing to support myself and my children with. I didn’t want to be a burden to my own family if I choose to return home.”
Four years later, what was once a shattered woman is transformed into a woman with a purpose and confidence. Her strength was her belief in herself, and her determination to rise up from the strongholds of violence over her life. Through SVSG’s livelihood training she attended in 2017, she learnt how to sew and the basic financial literacy, and she has never looked back since. She finally had the courage to leave a violent relationship; her children are all in school and her business is thriving. When SVSG visited her at her home, she had piles of orders all around her. She looked at us and smile, pointed at the pile and said, “this is all money.”
This is just one of the many stories of change being shared throughout the SHINE journey for the nofotane women. What is obvious is that while majority of the stories started in tears, majority have positive endings. A confirmation that “E au le inailau a tamaitai.”, “The women’s row of thatch was completed.”
“Thank you to the European Union through the Civil Society Support Program for funding SVSG’s efforts to support the sustainable income generation of the self-employed nofotane women. Together, we are raising strong women of courage and persevance, ending violence through their economic empowerment.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Two hundred and fifty youth who fronted a women’s movement focused on respect as an approach to end violence against women and girls, have successfully completed a 5-months conscious-raising training.
The youths were chosen from a network of 100+ church youth groups registered as SVSG Junior members, with the SVSG Junior being the youth sub-group of the Samoa Victim Support Group.
Over the last 12 months, the 250 youth have been trained to become youth ambassadors as part of the Samoa Spotlight Initiative to end domestic and intimate partner violence. They have done this by learning about Youth and the Culture of Respect; Youth and breaking the cycle of violence; Youth Empowerment; and Serving the community with love and respect.
Through these empowerment programs, the youth have shone the spotlight on the traditional Samoan culture that supports male respect for women and girls to end violence.
The practicality of this learning was put to the test over the last two weeks when the social animators from Savaii and Manono-tai carried out community work for the elderly with ill health, with people with disabilities and the vulnerable members of the community.
At Samata-i-tai, SVSG Youth Officer Amalea Vaai spend the day with a 73 year old. “I never got the chance to experience such caring for my own grandmother, and know how it feels like to serve her with love and respect. Caring for this elderly fulfilled this for me.”
On the other side of Savaii at Sapulu Salelologa, Tali Lene of the CCCS Youth from Taga, lead the youth groups from the CCCS Iva, LDS Papa Puleia, SDA Salelavalu and the Methodist Youth of Saletagaloa, in fixing the home of a vulnerable elderly who lives by himself. “The learnings over the last 5 months have really challenged us mentally on gender roles that are socially acceptable, for instance, women tidy the house while men tend to the plantation. Look at us, we haven’t died from tidying this elderly’s house.” Tali Lene
The Upolu social animators will have their turn to serve the community with love and respect this coming weekend. So if you see young people working alongside the road wearing yellow t-shirts boldly marked RESPECT, stop and meet our future leaders, who are doing a great job in breaking the cycle of violence against women and girls.
“Thank you UNESCO Pacific for choosing to partner with SVSG on such an exciting project.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The children survivors of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, cared for at the Campus of Hope shelter facility (operated by SVSG), and attending the School of Hope on campus, celebrated their cultural day on Friday, with students performing traditional Samoan dances, cooking local dishes and promoting traditional weaving.
The theme for this year’s culture day was ‘respect your culture’, with all the activities highlighting this theme. The school was divided into two groups named after the two islands of Manono and Apolima.
Fiu Fetinai Leaupepe, who is one of the school counsellors, has been supporting the teachers and trainers at the school in coordinating this event which is part of the school’s annual calender.
According to Mrs. Leaupepe, “students attending the School of Hope are from different backgrounds with most of them having gone through abusive circumstances in their young lives.”
“The culture day was therefore more than just a celebration of culture, but also a part of healing for these children survivors of abuse.”
Majority of the students attending the school are adolescents, ages 10 – 19 years old. As such, the culture day aimed at encouraging participation, respecting different opinions and keeping others trust, as part of the adolescent development for these students.
Some of the local dishes prepared during the culture day was moa tunu pa’u or roasted chicken while weaving of the mailo (coconut leaf food basket) was the students favourite.
At the end of the day, the students have demonstrated their respect for their culture, through the activities they participated in.
The Chair of the SVSG Board, Georgina Lui therefore acknowledged the partnership with UNICEF Pacific in supporting SVSG’s rehabilitation programs for the children survivors of violence, neglect and exploitation.