“God has been so good to me.”
These are the words from the young Feagaiga Stowers who will represent Samoa in the Oceania Training Camp that will be held in New Caledonia this week.
She told the Samoa Observer that God works in mysterious ways and despite her passed God has raised her up again.
“This sport gave me a second chance in life and for that I am so grateful to the man who gave me hope and made me the person I am today Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork,” she said.
“Before I was just this girl at the S.V.S.G searching of where to start from again but our coach gave me hope.
“I am now known to the world and I am now going to places and travelling the world, it’s something that I thought would never happen to me.”
Having to say that the young lifter also acknowledge the President of the S.S.V.G Siliniu Lina Chang.
“All of this would not have come real for me if it wasn’t for the love and kind of Mama Lina,” she said.
“I know if I wasn’t living at the campus of hope I wouldn’t be able to make it to the sport, so these two people have moulded me and pushed me to become the person I am today.
“This week I will be training with some of the junior elites from different countries and it’s an honour.
“I’ll get to meet a lot of people and I will train as hard as I can and learn from others.”
President of Weightlifting Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork said that the training camp is two weeks.
“Feagaiga will be there from now until the 18th of this month.
“She has been selected as one of the elite within the Oceania juniors to participate in this training camp.
“This is all for the development of weightlifting and also her as a young lifter.
“Mary Opeloge will be accompanying Feagaiga Stowers.
“She was also invited by the Oceania Weightlifting Federation as a special guest for the Women’s training Camp.
“All airfares and accommodation are fully funded by the Oceania Weightlifting Federation.
“The training camp and competition will be run under the well known Coach Paul Coffa.”
The Senior Sisters from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints Pesega Mission hosted the children cared for at the Campus of Hope for a Christmas treat, culminating a whole year of volunteering teaching of the children on Campus.
This is one aspect of the Church’s assistance for the work of SVSG where not only the daily supplies of necessities are donated, but also, volunteer service is provided based on the identified need for support. There have been volunteers at the school and also those volunteering as facilitators for SVSG’s advocacy program for offenders of violence referred from the Courts.
For 2016, the Sisters from the LDS Pesega Mission have been volunteer teachers, assisting the teaching staff at the School of Hope for the children under the care of SVSG. They have started volunteering one day a week, then it was extended to two days of teaching at the School as well as providing sewing trainings for the older girls.
While Sisters on a Mission here in Samoa for the Church have started and completed their Mission, still there were Sisters available to continue this important support for the children at the Campus of Hope.
Today, the Sisters hosted the children and their carers for a Christmas activity at the LDS Chapel at Pesega. Much preparation and time has been devoted by these Good Samaritans to making this wonderful event for the children. And the children enjoyed the festivities, the food, the entertainment and the fellowship with the Sisters. Thank you so much Sister Darla Anderson, Sister Alicia McBride, Sister Ellsworth and all the Sisters that have returned home, for your commitment to seeing these children recover successfully from the hardships they have been through.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang joined the Christmas activity and thanked the Sisters for including the children at the Campus of Hope as part of their Mission here in Samoa. “Special acknowledgement of the vision by President Hannemann which has seen SVSG working in partnership with the Church in providing the relevant support required. On behalf of the children, I wish you and your families a merry Christmas and a most prosperous new year.”
Every woman who is brave enough to report violence is a Hero. Every woman who instigated violence and is doing something about it is therefore a Champion, because at Samoa Victim Support Group, every family we reunite is a Victory.
The SVSG Women’s Advocacy Program Against Violence 2016 – Tina Faufautua – has been marked by a substantial reduction of 34 women or 58% referrals from the Family Court for counseling support, compared to 81 recorded for 2015. With 16 women referred from 2015 who continued onto 2016, this takes the total number of women in the Advocacy Program for 2016 to 50.
Coming from different backgrounds, different circumstances surrounding their offending but with the same status, as mothers, SVSG’s work appealed to this important role each offender played in her family.
Anger and stress management, family relationships, goal setting and spiritual guidance form part of the counseling rehabilitation program. From 4 weeks to 3 months depending on the duration of the program as referred from the Courts, these mothers remain committed to change not only for themselves, but most importantly, for their families. And SVSG is mindful of the difficulty in achieving behavioral change.
This week, our proud mothers, the Champions of domestic violence in the homes, came together to celebrate together with SVSG and the facilitators of the program, their achievements. There has been noted improvement in relations with their husbands, children, parents, siblings and their neighbors; they have learned self-control when in conflicting situations; most importantly, they have been agents of change, advocating for violence free families in their women’s committee, village and church communities.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledged the commitment from the volunteer facilitators, Mrs. Tutaia Mariner and Mrs. Milo Cordtz, who have been with the Tina Faufautua Program throughout the year. “Thank you also to the volunteer mothers from various churches who have carried this work together with us. As a community, we have nurtured the goodness in these mothers, now becoming Champions of ending violence in the homes.” Wishing all our families a joyous and safer festive season.
They came to bless the children with gifts to show their love, but in return, they were just as blessed themselves. This was the overall feeling of the youth from the Apia Vicariate of the Catholic Church comprised of Matautu, Leone, Togafuafua, Taufusi, Saleufi, Vaimoso and the St. Anthony during their visit at the Campus of Hope on Sunday.
The visit was led by Father Losi Numia and accompanied by Deacon Faaletonu Une and it was the youth’s initiative during this festive season, as the world await the commemoration of the ultimate gift for us all, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. It highlights the giving hearts of these emerging leaders as they choose to share the love of God with the vulnerable children at the Campus of Hope.
For most of the youth, they have heard of the Campus, but the visit was their first time to actually see the reality of life within the Campus, and this is the children. A seed has been planted and now the Apia Vicariate Youth is now on board to support the children any way they can, whether it be cleaning the compound, joining the volunteers at the Campus or be part of the SVSG youth group, the SVSG Juniors.
Bulk food supplies, toiletries, vegetables and fruits were donated by the Apia Vicariate Youth during their visit. The supplies will assist greatly in providing for our children at the Campus.
SVSG President thanked Father Losi for it was following the Holy Family Parish visit in October that started this continuous fellowship. To the youth, Siliniu Lina Chang reminded them to walk in faith with Christ and “thank you to your parents for supporting you in putting together the donation for the children and treasure your families as not all the children enjoy that privilege.”
It surely is a season to be jolly as the General Manager of the Bank of the South Pacific, Tuiloma Maryanne Lameko-Vaai acknowledged the work by Samoa Victim Support Group in caring for the abused children, by putting up a complete Christmas tree with presents, for the children at the Campus of Hope.
As part of their corporate responsibility, the Bank will donate annually for a charity during this festive season. For this year, it was the first time that the Bank had brought the Christmas spirit of giving to the Campus, and it was special.
A wish list from the children was sent to the Bank and the smile, the joy and the eagerness on their faces, say it all. Even the babies at the Nursery Shelter were included in the Christmas treat by the BSP.
To complete the special treat, Santa was none other than the reigning Miss Samoa, Miss Pricilla Olano, who greeted each child and presented them with their presents. What a joy, and what a blessed feeling to be a part of a community that takes its responsibility at heart, when sharing the Christmas spirit with the abused, the abandoned, the disabled and the most vulnerable children.
Representing SVSG at this joyous occasion was the Chairperson for the Board, Mrs. Georgina Lui, who thanked Tuiloma, the management and the staff of the Bank of the South Pacific for sharing the spirit of Christmas with the children at the Campus of Hope.
Laughter surely is the best medicine, and the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse cared for at the Campus of Hope can vouch for that.
Visiting the Campus this week were the Japanese comedians that performed for the children as part of their road show while in Samoa.
The children had a jolly good time, laughing and participating in some of the acts. The smiles on their faces say it all. For a while, they were on a league of their own, clapping and mesmerized by the show.
The Japanese Ambassador in Samoa H.E Tuimaugoalii Kazumasa Shibuta was behind the grassroot grant from the Japanese government that enabled SVSG in 2015 to renovate the old Police building now housing the main office of SVSG
“Thank you Ambassador Tuimaugaoalii and staff for your continued support and for organising the fun show for the children.” Siliniu LinaChang, SVSG President.
It is that time of the year where parents are rewarded for being parents, as the children bring home a certificate, a trophy or a prize for their academic achievements.
During the Prize Giving celebration at the School of Hope this week, the SVSG Board, Executive, staff, volunteers and supporters are rewarded as the carers, guardians and parents of close to 200 children survivors of violence and sexual abuse that have been educated at the School this year. For majority of these children, they have been abused from within their homes.
The prize giving is therefore not so much a recognition of the children’s academic achievement, but more of their self-determination which shine through their resilience. This is because as abused, disabled, neglected, and in some cases, pregnant children, they have been battling their education twice as hard as the children attending the mainstream education, because of the emotional trauma associated with their experiences.
192 is an increase of 43% in the number of children attending the School of Hope in 2016, compared to 134 recorded for 2015. These are children that have been enrolled at the school not by choice, but due to the circumstances of the crimes committed against them. Sadly for SVSG, this translates to an increase in the number of children survivors of violence and sexual abuse from the community requiring shelter care for their safety.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuatai gave the keynote address, acknowledging the special characteristic of the School of Hope.
The supporting community once again rallied behind the celebration of the children’s achievement through monetary and prize donations. Thank you Aumua Ming & Fiti Leung Wai of the Samoa Stationery & Books for the magnificent trophies, Penitito & Genevieve Pupi of Mercy Shop for the colorful gift prizes, Jerry & Charlotte Brunt of Orators Hotel, and Molioo Pio & Anarosa Molioo of Western Union, for each donating $200 and Afamasaga Opeta Siilata and staff of Federal Pacific Finance for $300 donation.
To the government through MESC, thank you for continuing to finance the salaries of the teaching staff and livelihood skill trainers at the School of Hope. Last but not the least, SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang on behalf of the Patron and the Board, acknowledges with gratitude the volunteering support of individuals and church groups who spent time reading, playing and counseling the children survivors of violence educated at the School of Hope.
It is with much appreciation that we express our gratitude to Mr. Daniel Burkhart of the Clean 4 All, for providing free cleaning services to the Campus of Hope. This is very important as it ensures the continued hygienic home environment for the children.
Daniel has been a supporter of SVSG over the years, providing cleaning materials and equipment for the office as well as in kind donations for the children under our welfare assistance.
Thank you so much Daniel from the SVSG Board and the President.
Children survivors of violence cared for at the Campus of Hope, and attending the School of Hope on campus, are joining the 16 Days of Activism Campaign 2016, as advocates of peace in the home, by promoting safe education for all.
“From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”, the theme recognizes that structural discrimination and inequality is perpetuated in a cycle of violence that does not end, even when girls are in the act of gaining an education.
In their own simple ways, the children have engaged in reading activities, with the assistance of our visiting friends from the Christian Camping Program in Australia; took part in the Violence Free Rugby tournament coordinated by the Samoa Rugby Union; displayed the products of their livelihood trainings during the Disability Week organized by the Nuanua o le Alofa; while some have been trained for the upcoming weightlifting event hosted by the Samoa Weightlifting Federation.
Being literate, gaining confidence, being self-sufficient and becoming professional athletes are the rewards for the children’s education as per their engagement, which all encompass a sense of resilience. And the children survivors of violence have accomplished all these in the security of the Campus of Hope, their temporary home while their cases are progressing in court.
So while the world celebrate 16 Days of Activism, no other children in Samoa relate to the theme well with regards to safe education for all, besides the children survivors at the Campus of Hope. “We would not be able to achieve all these without the assistance of our durable partners and supporters.” SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang.
The SVSG Auckland international sub-group of Samoa Victim Support Group shared their love for the people of Samoa, as they came together for the Dinner of Hope fundraiser in Auckland over the weekend.
The annual fundraiser is SVSG Auckland’s contribution towards SVSG’s work for the children survivor of abuse cared for shelter facilities at the Campus of Hope. It is the sub-group’s annual donation for the work of SVSG in Samoa and for three years in a row, the support from the Auckland community has been tremendous.
The credit goes to SVSG Auckland Director Pesetā Levā Aati-Schuster and Team who once again hosted a successful family night, gathering the huge Samoan community residing in Auckland, as well as SVSG’s supporting partners and friends. Included in the volunteers were teachers and students from the Marist College who served the guests throughout the night.
H.E Faolotoi Reupena Pogi, the Samoa Counsel General to New Zealand gave the keynote address for the evening, speaking on the domestic violence in Samoa, specifically, the nofotane women, who are usually the silent survivors in the homes. His message was clear, ‘Stop the Violence’, and he acknowledged the perseverance of SVSG, that no matter what, continues to remain focus on its work.
SVSG President attended the fundraising on behalf of the Chairperson and the Board. . In attendance also to support the event were Pastor Jeremy & Shelly Faumuinā of the SVSG Christchurch as well as Su’a William Sio, the Member of Parliament for Mangere, who also spoke about family violence and the need for our community to come together to protect the survivors – the women and the children.
ST30,000 was announced during the night, as proceeds from the fundraising Dinner of Hope.
“Thank you so much Pesetā and the Team for coming together, sharing your love for our people in need through supporting the work of SVSG in Samoa.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
President of SVSG Samoa