A 20% increase in the number of callers to the SVSG 24 hour free Help Line has been noted one week following the launch of the organization’s Saving Lives Campaign. The SVSG offices at Apia and at Tuasivi also noted 15% more people walking in to seek assistance during the same week compared to its normal average clients.
These early statistics is an indication of an informed community. 5% of this increase calls were people on their way to work or to town when they heard of the campaign message on the radio and they called the Help Line to inquire about how we can help them out. One such caller was a 57 year old mother of six who was sitting on the bus when she heard of the campaign. She came in the same day burdend with marital problems and she just needed to talk it out. Gladly, she was referred to one of our in-house qualified counsellors who is now working with this family.
The other 5% of the callers were people that have read of campaign in the local newspapers or on the social media and called up SVSG to refer family matters that need assistance. One of the inquiries was from a Samoan residing in Australia, for assistance for her family here in Samoa.
And 10% of the increased calls were members of the community who offered to take in any abandoned babies brought under the care of SVSG. Thank you for taking up the responsibility to save a life.
In addition four more victims of sexual abuse between the ages of 7 – 17 have been referred either from family members or concerned citizens who have heard of the Saving Lives Campaign and became the voice of these girls. All the four victims are now safe at the Campus of Hope while their cases have been referred to the Police for its normal investigations.
The support from the business community has been overwhelming. One of the first being committed to raising awareness on the Campaign was the management and staff of the Moana Rentals and the Pacific Ezy Money Transfer through the sponsorship of the first two billboards now stationed around Apia. We have three more billboards going on this week around the rural communities sponsored by the Newton family through the CCK Trading, Blue Pacific Car Hire and the Hyundai Ford.
The progress of the Campaign to date therefore highlighted a community in solidarity to save lives. This is important because it is not just an organization’s responsibility, or the business communities nor it is the media’s responsibility alone, but it is everyone’s responsibility.
Because according to the Chair of the SVSG Board, Mrs. Georgina Lui, “no matter the circumstances, life is a gift from God, not for us to take onto our own hands.”
Thank you once again to the two main telecommunication companies, the Bluesky Samoa and the Digicel Samoa for continuing to sponsor the operation of the 24 hour free Help Line, enabling our people to reach us when in need.
The Chair and the Board of the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) today launched the ‘Saving Lives’ Campaign; appealing to our people to Speak Out and ask for help when in need. Speaking during the press conference to launch the Campaign, Mrs. Georgina Lui, the Chair of the Board reiterated that“no problem is too big to warrant an end to a life; there is always Help available.”
The Campaign is an initiative at the wake of incidences of abandoned babies in Samoa of late. As the national child protection agency, child abandonment really gets to the heart of our work with children, which calls for more vigorous action.
The Saving Lives Campaign is focused on reminding our people that HELP is available through the services offered by SVSG such as: (1) The Free 24 hour Help Line number 800-7874; it offers anonymity for those who wish to remain anonymous; it offers counselling in confidence; and it is manned by a compassionate pool of staff (2) There is support for walk in clients to SVSG’s Apia office or the one at Tuasivi Savaii; (3) The SVSG village representatives in villages have been trained to offer first hand support.
An awareness on these services will be through a Multi-Media approach such as Help Line signboards along the roadside; Brochures/Pamphlets; Posters inside hospitals, church halls, school buildings, buses, ferries between the islands; Radio talk back shows; social media postings and messages; and open statements by government, church, village, business leaders on the television networks. The media will therefore play a very important role in getting the message on the support services available at SVSG out there to our community.
At the same time, the Positive Movement program to end violence, stigma and discrimination will further promote the ‘Saving Lives’ message that ‘Life is a gift from God, not for us to take onto our own hands, no matter the ciurcumstances.’
For 10 years from 2009 to 2019, SVSG has saved more than 100 abandoned babies left at the shelter gates, in front our our office in Apia and at Tuasivi, dropped off by concerned citizens who wished to remain anonymous, or babies born from mothers with mental disabilities roaming the streets. Despite the odd hours of the calls or how risky the situation may be, we thank you for choosing to trust us by picking up the phone and call us for help. We therefore say thank you to Bluesky and Digicel for continuing to sponsor the operation of the Help Line.
“As a country that prides itself as a Christian nation founded on God, we are calling on everyone to please, we have a social responsibility for each others safety. Let us support each other, help each other and care for each other, like we do towards ourselves.” Georgina Lui, Chair of the SVSG Board
The demonstration of Jesus’ astonishing power when He calmed the storm while travelling with His disciples across the Sea of Galilee, was the theme for the inaugural Sunday program for the Third Year students of the Malua Theological College with the children at the Campus of Hope for 2019.
It was a theme that guided the students missionary work with the children of hope this year, emphasizing entrusting the God of miracles to provide us with the inner peace amidst the calamities of this life.
Close to 30 third year students and their wives spend the Sunday with the children at the Campus, as part of their ‘Faamasani’ or Practical Ministry program. This was the first Sunday of a 5-weeks program by the Theological students with the children of hope. It has been an ongoing program since it first started with SVSG in 2011, which added to the spiritual guidance for the children.
According to Reverend Filemoni Crawley, the Lecturer in Practical Theology who lead the visiting delegation, “We wanted to share with the children the love of God, as He wanted us to remind the children that His love will calm any storm in our lives.”
For most of the Theological students, last Sunday was their first time at the Campus and it shows. The emotions, the parental love for the children, the fellowship in Christ; it was calming and soothing to the troubled souls of the young ones.
To ensure that they have a contribution towards the children’s daily caring, donation of miscellaneous food and toiletry supplies were presented before a blessed day ended.
“Thank you so much Reverend Maafala Limā, Principal of the Malua Theological College for supporting the sustainability of the partnership between SVSG and the College. This is our collective responsibility towards the abused and the neglected among us. Thank you also to Rev. Filemoni Crawley for coordinating such an innovative program for the children.” Georgina Lui, Chair of the SVSG Board
The Advocacy Program coordinated by the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) for offenders of violence referred from the Family Court, is highlighted at the Pacific Regional Dialogue on Engaging Men to End Violence Against Women & Girls, in Sigatoka Fiji from 16th – 20thSeptember 2019.
Coordinated by the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, the Dialogue provides for the first time in the Pacific, a forum whereby perpetrator counselling programme experts joined the Pacific partners to share on international best practice.
SVSG’s Advocacy Program complements the operation of the Family Court in Samoa where offenders are referred to SVSG for anger management counselling rather than their separation from their families if they were imprisoned. It has not been an easy path to take to end violence against women through the perpetrators themselves. This is because counselling has been viewed by our people as a foreign concept, hence getting the offenders to openly discuss anger in a safe space took a lot of courage. But five years now since SVSG paved the way for anger management programs for the Family Court, we have changed behavior, changed mentality and changed social norms with perpetrators of violence now becoming men of change to end violene against women and girls.
SVSG is represented at the Pacific Dialogue by one of its Men of Change advocates, Mane Su’a, who had just returned over the weekend from attending the train the trainers program in Sri Lanka for the Breaking the Cycle: Men and Boys Engage Program to End Violence Against Women & Children, in which SVSG works in partnership with Spain, Sri Lanka, India, Netherlands, Madagascar. According to the Chair of the SVSG Board Mrs. Georgina Lui, “all of these work is to ensure that our families and our communities are safe.”
The national child protection agency, the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.), has called on mothers in Samoa to ask for help and not to take the lives of their newborn babies as Samoa reels from a second case of fatal child abandonment.
The President of the S.V.S.G., Siliniu Lina Chang, spoke out in response to two cases of babies who were found dead in the past month, one at sea and another on Saturday, adjacent to a trash bin at the Mulifanua wharf.
“No child whether young, old or new born deserves to die at the hands of the parents due to negligence, pride or poverty. All children are a gift from God,” she said.
“The children fulfil God’s purpose for the growth of His Kingdom here on earth and they have the right to life.
“Sadly, the incidences of abandoned babies in Samoa of late, remind us that all is not well in our beautiful slice of paradise.”
Siliniu said that questions about whom "to blame and what causes these catastrophes are not ours to ask.”
“As a child protection agency, S.V.S.G. is more concerned with how can we save another child from being abandoned or how else we can help save mothers in such situations?," she said.
“We are appealing to all our mothers in these situations to please, know that help is just a phone call away.
“Having the courage to reach out for help will not only save yourself, but most importantly, that gift of a child.”
She also added that earlier this year, they were greeted one morning by a newborn left outside their office door.
“We never asked who [or] what but we knew that whatever the situation may be, a child has been saved. He is now a healthy child at the House of Blessings nursery at the Campus of Hope.
“Mothers, before you make a decision to take a life by your own hands, know that you are not alone. At S.V.S.G., we are your family, and we are just a phone call away.
“All children are a gift from God and as such, they have the right to life like you and I.”
The S.S.V.G. operates a 24-hour free help line number: 800-7874.
News from: Samoa Observer
No child whether young, old or new born deserves to die at the hands of the parents due to negligence, pride or poverty. All children are a gift from God. They fulfill God’s purpose for the growth of His Kingdom here on earth. They have the right to life.
Sadly, the incidences of abandoned babies in Samoa of late, remind us that all is not well in our beautiful slice of paradise. Who to blame and what causes these catastrophies are not ours to ask.
As a child protection agency, SVSG is more concerned with how can we save another child from being abandoned?; how else we can help the mothers in such situations?
Samoa Victim Support Group is appealing to all our mothers in these situations to please, know that help is just a phone call away. The 24 hour free help line number is 800-7874 and it is confidential. Having the courage to reach out for help will not only save yourself, but most importantly, that gift of a child.
Earlier this year, we were greeted one morning by a bundle of joy being left outside our office door. We never asked who of what. We knew that whatever the situation may be, a child has been saved. He is now a healthy child at the House of Blessings nursery at the Campus of Hope.
The SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang is therefore calling on our mothers that “before you made a decision to take a life into your own hands, know that you are not alone. At SVSG, we are your family, and we are just a phone call away.”
All children are a gift from God and as such, they have the right to life like you and I.
"On behalf of us as parents, we ask for your forgiveness as our children, as God's gift to our families, to our homes. For we have not lived up to God's purpose in our lives, to love and to care for you. And because you are here, we are all in this together." Fijian Prayer Warrior.
This was the appeal from a prayer warrior representing the Deborah Ministries International when they visited the children at the Campus of Hope.
The appeal highlighted an important shift away from the silent acceptance of gender based violence; which has been apparent in Samoa and the Pacific region in the past; towards a more responsible community taking ownership of its actions towards the children.
The Deborah Ministries visited the children of Hope as prayer warriors, yet, the children's ministering left them in awe of God's love as seen from the smiles on the children’s faces. It was as if the roles were reversed and the children were encouraging the adults to be strong, and in turn, the adults asked for the children’s forgiveness.
The visiting Deborah Ministriescomprised of prayer warriors from New Zealand, Fiji and American Samoa. Accompanying the Debra Ministry was one of SVSG's Church Response Team Leader Pastor Sale Uelese of the Assembly of God Satapuala who reminded the children that "the love of God through Jesus Christ is above all." As such, He has a better plan for the children of hope, despite the ugliness of their past.
"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." Jeremiah 29:11