For his birthday this year in October, the Chargé d’Affaires, Antone (Tony) Greubel of the US Embassy Apia did an unselfish act in supporting a cause close to his heart. He bought ST2,600 worth of Enfamil Infant Formula for the babies cared for at the Campus of Hope shelter facility operated by Samoa Victim Support Group. The babies are either abandoned, neglected or born of victims of incest rape.
It took one visit at the Campus for Tony, but it was enough for him to know that he wants nothing but the best for the children residence there.
When Tony presented the 6 x 6 boxes of Enfamil to the SVSG Office for the babies, he smiled and explained that “Enfamil remains the number one brand recommended by pediatricians for babies, and it is manufactured in my hometown, Evansville Indiana.”
Included in the donation were 10 cases of Aloha Maid soft drinks courtesy of the SAMPAC Limited.
The SVSG Patron Hon. Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau received the donation and thanked Tony for continuing to support the work of SVSG. “We thank you for thinking about us and the children of hope during this special occasion.”
Over the years, the US Embassy Apia has been one of the valued supporters of our work. It started with the first ever recognition of SVSG’s work in 2012 by the US Government Global Women’s Initiative through the Woman of Courage Award. Then thereafter, further support included Peace Corps volunteers assisgned to assist with the staff shortage; funding to support trainings for the SVSG village representatives in the general conduct of support work in the community; awareness campaigns to end violence against women; with the current one being the removing of child vendors from the streets during school hours and into the classrooms.
At the end of this second week into the Saving Lives Campaign, Samoa Victim Support Group and its supporting sponsors have impacted the lives of many more of our people, including children as young as 6 years old, to elderly in their 90s.
Two child vendors age 6 and 12 were being abused while vendoring on the streets; while a 16 year old girl was sexually abused by a church minister while under his care. In both cases, strangers who are concerned members of the community became these children’s voices.
An SVSG village representative alerted SVSG via the Help Line for assistance to evacuate the sexually abused victim for her safety. SVSG staff travelled to the village late at night to pick her up. She is now safe at the Campus of Hope while the matter has been referred to the Police for investigation.
For the 6 and 12 year old child vendors, they were saved by a young couple who witnessed them being abused by a relative at the side of the road. While some members of the public at the scene choose not to intervene, this couple brought the 2 children to the SVSG office for help at close to 7.00pm. Upon closer look, the 6 year old was in a severe condition compared to the 12 year old. The matter was immediately referred to the Police. The children are now under SVSG’s shelter care.
As the Campaign continues, this week saw a 35% increase in the number of walk in clients to SVSG’s office seeking help for a variety of matters. For the Help Line, a 24% increase in the number of callers has been noted compared to last week. And this highlighted a community, much more aware of our collective responsibility to help save a life. Thank you to our people for trusting us to be of service to you in times of need. Thank you also to the strangers who became the voice of those too afraid to speak out.
But the highlighted cases brought to SVSG this week singled out the children as the most vulnerable, hence, they need more of our protection, especially given the perpetrators are usually the ones who have been entrusted to care for them. Look at the church minister whom the 16 year old stayed with, yet he turned around and sexually abused her. This is violence at one of its most ugliest we have seen.
The Saving Lives Campaign therefore must go on. And as a nation, we should not be discouraged by these ugly realities, but instead, should challenge us to keep on the good fight. The coming on board of Lemalu Ray Ah Liki and the Samoa Commercial Bank as well as Afamasaga Opeta Siilata and the Federal Pacific Finance, to offer further support to the Campaign is therefore encouraging.
If you would like to be a part of the Saving Lives Campaign; as a spokesperson for the media, a volunteer driver for after hour cases or a sponsor for the roadside billboards, you are most welcome to join us. Call the Help Line on 800-7874, message us on the SVSG Samoa Facebook page, or stop by our office next to the Police in Apia.
As the Chair of the SVSG Board, I would like to acknowledge once again the co-sponsorship by Bluesky and Digicel for the operation of the 24-hour free Help Line. This has enabled our people in need of help to contact us. Together, we will continue to save lives.” Georgina Lui