The increase in reporting of sexual abuse among young girls in Samoa of late is an ongoing challenge to the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) and its work as a child protection agency in Samoa.
While most of the young survivors ended up under the care of SVSG at the Campus of Hope shelter facility, SVSG’s innovative approach to the survivors’ rehabilitation and recovery processes remain a priority. This is because the Campus is the only refuge for children survivors of gender based violence and abandoned children available in Samoa.
A range of rehabilitation programs are carried out depending on what is most suitable to a child’s recovery ability. The most popular one of late is the art therapy conducted by a Japanese volunteer with SVSG, Mrs. Junko Hoshino.
Through creative art and group work, the young survivors are able to describe sexual abuse and the feelings evoked in them; some just scribbled with no clear direction, others drew images with boundaries, while a very few drew positive images. The art therapy by Ms. Junko has assisted in the improvement observed in the mental, physical and emotional wellness amongst the young survivors of sexual abuse at the Campus.
As a work in progress, we have seen the images as representing the mysterious environment of therapy as well as of course the abuse experiences themselves, being transformed into beautiful work of art. With the festive season around the corner, glittering stars and other various Christmas ornaments are being created by the surivors of sexual abuse at the Campus, as part of their art therapy.
Mrs. Hoshino is accompanying her husband who is working for JICA for the next 2 – 3 years. And the President of SVSG Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledged the volunteer work by Mrs. Hoshino. “Thank you Junko for your contribution to the rehabilitation programs for the children survivors of sexual abuse at the Campus. Your smile added to the positivity of the art therapy.”
Four weeks into the Saving Lives Campaign aim at improving awareness amongst our people of support services available at Samoa Victim Support Group, the highlights saw the campaign reaching our people residing overseas; as well as people with disabilities.
The magnitude of the help being sought ranges from counseling support, parental guidance, assistance with family dispute, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, abandoned children with disabilities, homeless and mental disabilities, attempted murder and suicidal victims of violence.
For 4 weeks from 20 September to 19 October 2019, SVSG’s database recorded 168 support responses for Help Line callers compared to 115 support provided for Walk-in clients. This is a total of 283 people being helped within 4 weeks of the Campaign.
With limited resources and personnel, SVSG is humbled by our people’s confidence to come forward and seek help. A mothers cry for justice due to the brutal beating of her 16 year old son by the school principal; the request for food and water from a woman with mental disabilities; the desperate plea for help from a suicidal woman survivor of violence; the phone calls and emails late at nights from Samoans living abroad requesting help for their families in the villages; were some of the lives the Campaign has saved.
Having the means to access help at any time is the rationale behind the operation of the Help Line. For some of the callers, being able to dial that number amidst any violent situations has given them hope. And we could hear all the different type of emotions from the callers voice such as fear, anxiety, terror, depression, anger. Through the Help Line, we have been able to address these emotions while talking the callers through their different situations.
SVSG is aware that we cannot save the world. However, we are stronger in our belief that it is through smaller changes that multiple changes are born. Together, you and I can become the change necessary to save lives in our community.
Thank you to all the sponsors of the Campaign thus far, namely Bluesky, Digicel, Samoa Commercial Bank, Bank of the South Pacific, Moana Rentals, Pacific Ezy Money, Fexco Samoa, CCK Trading Limited, Blue Pacific Car Hire, Ford Hyundai Samoa, Federal Pacific Finance.
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, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our office next to the Police in Apia.
“Thank you so much Samoa for trusting us to be of service to you all. As Family, SVSG is always here to support, to help and to care for you.” Georgina Lui, Chair of the SVSG Board.