“When I reached rock bottom, that was when I started looking within myself for answers to being poor, and I found it – It is all in my hands.”
This was the testimony shared by Pina Soma, a nofotane woman of Satapuala who attended SVSG’s Nofotane Program of previous years, learnt a skill or two and is now one of the newly self employed nofotane women. Mrs. Soma was a participant to the 4th session of Self-Esteem Workshops currently being carried out by Samoa Victim Support Group as part of the Canada Fund for Local Initiative project.
According to Mrs. Soma, before joining the Nofotane program she felt hopeless. With no one in the family who works, her family survived on a day by day basis with the support from others. What triggered the change in Mrs. Soma was her mentality towards life. “Here I was looking towards others for help when God gave each and everyone of us a talent, and it is just a matter of using it to survive and to glorify God.” Pina Soma
Mrs. Soma was trained on floral arrangement during the previous Nofotane project. Today, she is earning a living for her family from selling Samoan oil, Samoan cocoa, feathered costumes, pork buns and donuts. And she has come a long way from being poor, to being a confident woman, able to provide for herself and her family.
The positive changes in the nofotane women were achieved through overcoming the challenges within themselves. Gone were the hopeless and helpless attitudes, and instead we saw women with ‘a can do mentality.’ The nofotane women have been challenged to SHINE.
75% of the participants to the 4th session have already opened Savings Account with the local financial institutions. This is an achievement for the financial literacy component of the workshops as the newly self-employed women have learnt the basics in starting a business, and have progessed on to put aside saving for rainy days. This is progress towards sustainable income generation and self employment of nofotane women as per the CFLI Project.
“A nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this aspect of our culture, but merely aims to ensure sustainability of being empowered because a strong, proud and successful community, does not tolerate any form of violence against women.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The 3rd session of Self-Esteem Workshops for nofotane women as part of the Canada Fund for Local Initiative project highlighted the commitment from the women to learn.
Close to 30 nofotane earners from Utualii, Tufulele and Faleasiu gathered at the residence of the SVSG village reperesentative for Faleasiu, to share on their experiences in being newly self-employed women, to learn on how to maintain momentum of their new business ventures through marketing strategies and product development, to encourage working in support networks, and to SHINE through the self-esteem workshop.
It has been a rewarding experience, seeing the nofotane women that were once shy, that hardly participated during the first nofotane project, that seldom volunteered to share on their experience as women survivors of violence; being vibrant with confidence, the confidence of an empowered woman.
The highlight of the session at Faleasiu was the commitment from the elderly nofotane women to learn. It was a good example they set for the young women, that you are never be too old to learn.
In fact, one of the star earners awarded during the recent nofotane project was the Taueva Family of Faleasiu. The elderly couple Taueva and Apiseka Tuloto, in the age group 71-80 years old, recalled living a life of poverty, with nothing to rely on except for the plantation. Their son’s wife Falelua Taueva also attended the same nofotane livelihood training as her in laws in May 2018.
When SVSG visited the Taueva Family of Faleasiu, the change from being empowered was inevitable. Falelua walked towards SVSG’s vehicle with a confident smile as she excitedly showed the staff her coffee mix hand bags, and smiled further when she showed the family cooking pot used to make pork buns. In addition to these products, she also sells Samoan cocoa. The Taueva family now earns between $300 - $400 on good days.
The most popular response from the nofotane women who attended the 3rd Self-Esteem Workshop session was for SVSG to continue with these programs, as it encourages them, it challenges them and it boosts their confidence as newly self-employed nofotane women. And SVSG will ensure that the women are well supported through the mentors in their villages – the SVSG village representatives.
Because according to the Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President, “a nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this aspect of our culture, but merely aims to ensure sustainability of being empowered because a strong, proud and successful community, does not tolerate any form of violence against women.”
Finding inner peace through prayer is central to the rehabilitation programs at the Campus of Hope. Today, the children of hope did exactly that, as they gathered in prayer to celebrate the International Children’s Day for 2018.
Holding hands around the ‘Peace Garden’ created Miss Leilua Lino, a survivor of incest rape who is now recognized as one of the three finalists for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018, it was simply heaven on earth. As the sun rises, the birds chirped and the breeze soothes the skin, the babies, the toddlers, the special needs, the young and the old, rejoiced to the God Almighty in singing and in prayer. The SVSG President, the staff, the SVSG Juniors, the matrons who looked after the children, the security guards, and the groundsmen joined in the prayer celebration.
Who wouldn’t rejoice when according to Matthew 19: 14, Jesus said, “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belong to such as these.”
And this was the message from the children of hope today, that despite all the hardships of this world, Jesus remains their true friend. In prayer, this is the Children of Hope’s way of voicing their support for millions of their peers worldwide who are unprotected, uprooted and unschooled. It is a solidarity movement by the children residence of the Campus of Hope.
President Siliniu Lina Chang appealed to the children to always remember to pray not only for themselves, but also for all the abused and troubled children who are out there in our community, and the world over.
“May God continue to bless all our children, the donors and supporters, as well as the workers who have been hand pi cked to carry His work throughout the land. To God be the glory always,” said Siliniu Lina Chang.
As one of the 3 finalists for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018, Leilua Lino’s story of hope has made her part of the change maker movement coordinated by the Kids Right Foundation of Amsterdam. “It is certainly a reflection of the resilience and strength shown by our children, says one of SVSG Board member.”
Samoa Victim Support Group nominated Leilua, as the Group saw how she had created a Peace Garden as a way of coping with her anger towards those who have hurt her. With the announcement of the 3 finalists by the Kids Rights Foundation earlier this week , SVSG is once again humbled by the recognition of the children of hope’s bravery, as represented by Leilua.
It speaks of the support network behind the abused children’s journey to recovery both here and abroad. Amongst such supporters is Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, whose belief, translated into fatherly advises to the Group and visitations to the children at the Campus of Hope, continues to bear positive fruits.
As a representative of the Pacific region to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (C.R.), Justice Vui has always been vocal and expressed concerns at the high levels of abuse, domestic violence and incest due to fear of stigma in Samoa. When Justice Vui heard of Leilua’s progress in the world of children advocacy, he sent his congratulations. “This is excellent news, viia le Atua.” He even took time out from court to congratulate her in person.
The SVSG Patron, Chair & the Board, Executive Committee and the growing SVSG family therefore joins the Kids Right Foundation in congratulating Leilua for making it this far.
We look forward to the announcement of the winner for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018, on the 20th November, knowing that our local girl is already a winner in her recovery journey.
According to a dear friend of the children at the Campus, “I would like to remind Leilua that to win, we do not need to come first. The goal is just dream, and never ever let that dream go or let anybody tell you that you cant achieve that dream.”
Leilua’s message to the abused children in is Samoa that “if I can do it, you can too.”
Consultations to review the Community Sector Plan 2016 – 2021 of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development included the recognition of two non governmental organisations and two communities in the Community Development Sector Award Presentation.
Samoa Victim Support Group received the Special Award for Community Social Protection, in recognition of outstanding performance and commitment through inclusive Community Social Protection Programs targeting vulnerable populations.
The award came as the Group near its 14th years of service to the people of Samoa, and we are grateful.
According to the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, “we are very grateful to the Ministry for appreciating our work. Glory be to God for trusting us to take His work further.”
As servants, SVSG’s governing body, the executive committee, staff, volunteers, the SVSG village representatives and the SVSG Juniors, have been working hard to serve our community in need. It is for this reason why SVSG is humbled by the award, as it recognizes SVSG’s community protection role, which to us, is all about God’s work.
Thank you so much Afamasaga Faauiga Mulitalo, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry for engaging the community sector stakeholders in this review. As a sector partner, the review highlights an inclusive approach for an inclusive community development.
As a non-governmental organization, the award highlights a continuous transformation in SVSG and its work due to the indentified need to support our communities, as much as the changes in the communities as we’ve come to know them inclusively, as families as per SVSG’s motto that:
We support, we help, we care, WE ARE YOUR FAMILY!
SVSG will continue to do what its passionate about; helping and serving the most vulnerable in our community, while fostering a collaborative working relationship with the Ministry.
What’s good for Upolu is also good for Savaii!
The youth sub group of Samoa Victim Support Group, the SVSG Junior, is coordinating a ‘Book Drive’ project in response to a request from the community at Foailuga Savaii, for a library to assist with the children’s reading.
The request has driven the youth members of the SVSG Junior to call on the public to help donate any children’s books to support the children of Foailuga.
We all know that reading is important to a child’s academic progress and for the community at Foailuga to make this request highlights a community that is taking ownership of its role to nurture and develop our children’s education.
The Book Drive is for the whole month of November. There are 2 drop off outlets for donated books: SVSG’s Main Office next to the Police Station at Apia; and the Campus of Hope at Tuanaimato.
This is not the first time in which the SVSG Junior has reached out to support the community through a library project. A similar project was opened earlier this year at Faleasiu giving children at the Aana district access to reading books and study facilities for the children’s school work.
So come one, come all. Help us support the setting up of a library for the children of Foailuga and its neighbouring villages.
Together we can make a difference.
The main component of the sustainability project for the nofotane earners, (self-esteem workshops) for the Canadian Government sponsored project under the Canada Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI), kick started late October with 25 earners from 3 villages at the eastern side of Apia, namely Vaiusu, Nuu Fou and Aele.
This was following the identification of the eligible nofotane earners for the program, the sourcing out of mentors from the network of SVSG village representatives to provide mentorship to the earners, the discussions with local and overseas markets for the earners products, the training of trainers for the self-esteem program and the identification of suitable inspirational speakers for each sessions.
The trainer of the first session was none other than the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, who started with an overview of the project and its goal of sustainable income generation activities, and how the project goal ties up to one of the overaching goals of SVSG’s work, which is to address violence against women.
The whole self-esteem workshop titled SHINE, was marked by living testimonies shared by the nofotane earners and even their husbands on the positive changes and the impact of women empowerment in their families; on forgiviness in areas of nofotane women’s past; on knowing their value and their worth as nofotane women.
It has been inspiring that even the inspirational speaker, Mrs. Atelina Tuiletufuga Hunkin-Mamea of Apia, was speechless. This was because she related very well to the story of hardship, of endurance and of empowerment as shared by the earners, as she herself started from planting 4 coconut seeds which now grows to a floral arrangement, fabric printing and sewing business to support her family. Mrs Hunkin-Mamae shared that without being honest and having faith in ones ability to soar higher, a new business venture will surely fail.
Out of the 25 nofotane earners who attended the workshop, 80% have already opened Savings Account with the local financial institutions. This is an achievement for the financial literacy component of the workshop as the newly self-employed women have learnt the basics in starting a business, and have progessed on to put aside saving for rainy days.
Four of the nofotane earners who have been trained by SVSG to assist with the project implementation in village communities, attended the first session, to learn and to be inspired from the stories as shared by the participants.
One of the most important aspects worth noting from the first session was the fact that as more and more nofotane earners shine with empowerment, the less violence being reported from their village communities.
“A nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this aspect of our culture, but merely aims to ensure sustainability of being empowered because a strong, proud and successful community does not tolerate any form of violence against women.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
President of SVSG Samoa