Children come to us shattered by the horror of the abuse, traumatized by the horrendous rape, pregnant from incest, and numbed from being abandoned by their loved ones. They entered the Campus of Hope as lost children with lost hopes. At the Campus, the only shelter facility for children available in Samoa and operated by the Samoa Victim Support Group, our children survivors of violence and neglect are loved, nurtured, and rehabilitated into strong individual heroes that they are.
Today, our heroes held hands under the warm sun, in the safe surroundings of the Campus of Hope, appreciating another beautiful day, thanks to the merciful love of our God, for without his favor in their lives, they will not be saved. SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, staff and volunteers joined in the celebration by the children.
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.
The transformation from being voiceless to having the courage to voice a prayer of thanksgiving was just a humbling experience to be a part of. It highlighted their recovery journey, their resilience and their grateful hearts.
Father Eteuati Lapa of the Siusega Parish of the Catholic Church, Deacon and Chairman of the Council of Churches in Samoa Kasiano Leaupepe, experienced this gratefulness when they joined the prayer celebration by the children. They held hands with an abused child on one side and a pregnant child on the other. The picture speaks volume for a Family and its strength as one held on to the other, while relying on our Heavenly Father for guidance and support.
Speaking to the children after the prayer, Deacon Kasiano reminded them that they are special and are well loved. The Siusega Parish donation of food and clothing is just their way of reaching out and supporting them while in residence at the Campus of Hope, and in line with the Church’s donation for the poor and those in need.
SVSG President expressed her gratitude and appreciation to Father Eteuati, Deacon Kasiano and representatives from the Siusega Parish of the Catholic Church for being part of the Children of Hope’s prayer celebration for World Children’s Day 2017. “To our children at the Campus, you are our heroes, and you make us all proud today.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
An Executive Member of the SVSG (Junior), Gordon Lemisio today joined the economic empowerment training for the nofotane women at Siumu, in his search for innovative ways to assist the unemployed youth of Samoa.
The SVSG (Junior) is the youth sub-group of Samoa Victim Support Group, and Gordon’s mission finds him amongst the unemployed nofotane women of Siumu, wanting to learn from them, their struggles, their aspirations, and their willingness to be economically empowered to support themselves and their families.
Over the years, the SVSG (Junior) has focused more on addressing family violence through community awareness programs, anti-bullying programs in schools and outreach programs for the sick children in hospitals.
Gordon’s mission therefore takes the SVSG (Junior) further into understanding the problems behind youth unemployment, youth dropped out from school, and troubled youth.
And as the Nofotane Project continues in village communities to train unemployed nofotane women on livelihood skills, an interested trend now saw an increasing number of unemployed male youth attending the training in flower arrangement, elei printing, commercial cooking and handicraft.
For Gordon, he is a youth male advocate for violence free families and his mission starts with the youth.
They are mothers, volunteered two days a week throughout the year as facilitators of intervention programs, to rehabilitate mothers involved in violent situations.
They have shared, fellowshipped and counseled close to 100 mothers referred to SVSG’s Advocacy program from the Family Court. And they have influence changes in the lives of these mothers as 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.
There has been a ripple effect of a mother to a mother dialogue, to influence changed behavior against violence. The facilitators of the Tina Faufautua Advocacy Program to ending violence attest to this approach, and today, we pay tribute to their motherly love. They are the heroes among us in the fight to end family violence.
The Chair of the SVSG Board Mrs. Georgina Lui acknowledged the commitment from the volunteer facilitators, Mrs. Tutaia Mariner, Mrs. Milo Cordtz and Mrs. Susitina Lene who have been with the Tina Faufautua Program throughout the year. “Thank you for your patience, for your commitment and for your heart to work for the goodness of others.”
As we round up work for this year, we wish the Tina Faufautua facilitators good health and an abundance of God’s blessings.
It is with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation that the Chair of the SVSG Board, Mrs. Georgina Lui acknowledges the support from our families, friends and partners, who have answered our call for help during the weekend, which enabled the successful evacuation of Baby Jasaiah Kolise to New Zealand for medical treatment.
It has been a race against time, as the mother sought SVSG’s help for airfares on Saturday morning for their planned trip on Monday, the latest. The father was still in Savaii being the sole bread winner and the mother was helpless. SVSG immediately appealed to our family of supporters to help out, and they did.
From Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, East Timor and here in Samoa, our supporters chipped in a dollar or two and by Monday morning, we have collected NZD3,297.00 or ST5,440.05 through the SVSG’s Givealittle page. We paid for Baby Jasaiah and his mother’s return airfare totaling ST3,982.40 with the balance of ST1,457.65 presented to the mother for their pocket money. Additional funds received totaling NZD161.50 or ST266.47 will be presented to the father as the rest of the Givealittle donation received for Baby Jasaiah. God is good and we praise Him always for His merciful love through the generous donors.
On Monday afternoon, Father Spatz Silva of the Apia Vicariate of the Catholic Church conducted a prayer service before presenting the return ticket to Baby Jasaiah and his mother for their flight to New Zealand on Monday night, pocket money and additional donations from a newly opened Car Rental business in Apia.
It surely has been a race against time and we are humbled by our God’s grace as He continues to provide for us in our times of need.
Georgina Lui acknowledges the support from the SVSG family of supporters. “Thank you for the prayers, the thoughts and the donations. We have helped in the successful evacuation of Baby Jasaiah, now we ask you to continue praying for a successful operation and recovery.”
Saturday morning and SVSG Staff found a desperate mother infront of its closed office, pleading for help. Her 2 year old child (Josaiah Kolise), the youngest of her 4 children is in hospital awaiting medical evacuation to New Zealand.
Josaiah is suffering from congenital heart disease and has been admitted at the hospital for more than 5 months. The family requires urgent assistance for airfares for Josaiah, and his mother to assist him in New Zealand. They were going to solicit support on Monday for airfares. Unfortunately, the doctors informed them late Friday that the Josaiah needs to fly to New Zealand on Monday, 6th November for his operation, returning within 3 months.
It is a race against time. The family is from Savaii. The father being the sole breadwinner as a security guard. They have 48 hours to pay for airfares costing approximately NZ$1,920.00 for both of them (NZ$1050 for the mother and NZ$870.00 for the child).
SVSG is advocating to its family of supporters to please help us help this child. At SVSG, we are family and our strength lies in our solidarity.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church Youth Group comprised of seven (7) villages from Tiapapata to Vailoa Saoluafata was the latest visitor to the Campus of Hope today, as the country prepares for the children’s White Sunday.
Lead by Pastor Mo’i Tipasa and the Youth President Fa’amanatu, the visit formed part of the youth group’s retreat for White Sunday. And it was at the youth retreat that the Good Samaritan message was revealed as per the gospel according to Luke 10: 35 “Take care of him, and whatever you spend besides this, I will repay you when I return.” Pastor Mo’i shared on how he had approached the Campus of Hope three times (3) in the past and always returned outside the gate, as he could not face the children. The Good Samaritan message during the youth group retreat assured Pastor Mo’i that it was time to visit the children. The youth group’s visit not only shared on the word of God but also God’s blessings through monetary donation of $2,000 to assist with the children’s daily needs.
Pastor Mo’i encouraged the children through the word of God, from the book of Jeremiah 29:11, that before we were all born, God had a plan for each and every one of us, a plan to prosper and not to harm, so they should never lose hope. The same message of prosperity is also true for the land accommodating the campus as it has seen transformation from just a bare land to a secured home environment with adequate facilities for the children.
Pastor Mo’i however shared that as a Good Samaritan, it is not easy to listen, let alone, to obey, but the message during the youth retreat was strong and clear, that if they help those in need, they will be blessed.
And it has been a blessed week for the children of hope as the Good Samaritans came as individuals, as families, as churches to bless the children with their presence and gifts.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, who was with the children during the visit acknowledged Pastor Mo’i, President of the SDA Youth Group F’aamanatu and the youth. “Thank you for your obedience to God’s message as Good Samaritans. It is not from us, but Him who will repay you all as He has promised.”
MIKA FAMILY FROM NEW ZEALAND:
Mika and Agnes Mika with their young family from New Zealand took time out from visiting families and friends, to treat the children.
Through singing, the Mika family encouraged the children never to give up hope. Mr. Mika shared with the children on the hardship his family went through as it struggled to make ends meet, but they never gave up.
Miscellaneous food supplies were donated by the Mika family for the children. “Thank you Mika and Agnes for stopping by to visit the children, and encouraging them through sharing your own story.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The highlight of the children’s White Sunday treat from the community this week was the beauty session with Peata and the team from Peata’s Salon, who treated all the children to a new hair style. It took hours for the team as they groomed the children according to the style that suits them.
To Peata and the team, the cost to them in terms of the clients forgone during this busy time while treating the children at the Campus, did not matter. Most importantly to them was the smile they put on the children’s faces, as they happily showed their new hair style to each other.
It was just simply amazing just to watch the transformation and the smiles on the children’s faces. “Thank you so much Peata for this kind gesture, you surely gave the children a beautiful treat this White Sunday.” SVSG President, Siliniu Lina Chang.
The children of Hope wish all the children of Samoa a blessed White Sunday.
CHRISTINA SWANN & FAMILY FROM NEW ZEALAND:
It has been a blessed week for the children survivors of violence and neglect cared for at the Campus of Hope shelter facility. This is through local and international supporters of Samoa Victim Support Group who visited, fellowshipped and treated the children for White Sunday.
We had Christina Swan and family from New Zealand who shared on the life changing experience after visiting the Campus.
According to Christina “One of the most humbling and touching experiences of my life, visiting the House of Hope orphanage ……. I don't even really have to words to express how I'm feeling … I know for sure the time they gave me has changed my perception on the importance of time I share and give away, their cuddles have changed my perception on what a small gesture can do for another. And their eyes those curious, bright, hold me, hug me, love me eyes, they have changed my life!”
“Thank you so much Christina and family for the time spent with the children, they loved it and appreciated it. Thank you also for the gifts you brought for the children.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Samoa Victim Support Group’s work for the abused and neglected children had received an additional help with the coming on board of a qualified Social Worker Sister Schwenke, of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.
From Sydney Australia, Sister Schwenke is now into her 5th week of missionary work for the LDS Social Services under the LDS Welfare Department managed by Elder Meliula Fata. Included in this missionary work is to provide support for SVSG’s work.
Sister Schwenke’s expertise has now assisted SVSG with its work with families and with children. She has been helping the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse at the Campus of Hope shelter facilities, as well as in the SVSG office, for walk in clients.
According to the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, “SVSG welcomes the support from Sister Schwenke and a much needed help for the Child Protection Team.”
On Friday, the Executive and the staff of the Samoa Victim Support Group swapped their normal yellow uniform for pink, in support of the Samoa Cancer Society Pinktober Awareness. The support initiative will continue every Fridays for the month of October.
Dressed up in different shades of pink, the staff went about their normal duties to support victims of family violence, while supporting a sister NGO with its own community awareness to fight cancer in Samoa. Thank you to the Family Court Judge for being in tune with the change in uniform of its Court Support Officer presenting cases to court while supporting the Pinktober awareness.
And while SVSG’s work and that of the Samoa Cancer Society differs, their work share the same objective and that is to support and to help the people of Samoa, because cancer, like violence, does not discriminate. It can happen to any of our loved ones; from our children to our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers.
“On behalf of the Chair of the SVSG Board, we wish the Samoa Cancer Society a successful awareness to fight cancer in Samoa.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Samoa Victim Support Group was today awarded the Samoa Public Service Innovation & Excellence Team Award for ‘Most Effective Collaborative Partnership’, during the celebration of the Public Service Day.
The award was in recognition of SVSG’s work with the Courts, nominated by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration. SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang accepted the award on behalf of the Group.
SVSG’s work with the Court dates back 12 years ago when the Group was just set up. This was specifically in supporting children survivors of sexual abuse standing trial against their own family members. This support for victims of sexual abuse continues to date, and is one of the focused area for SVSG’s support services, as highlighted by the children’s shelter facilities, the Campus of Hope.
With the setting up of the Family and Youth Courts in 2013, SVSG’s work with the Ministry of Justice extended to include rehabilitation programs for the offenders of violence through SVSG’s Advocacy Program, offering anger management, alcohol abuse and other counseling support.
Support services for the victims and the offenders continued to be self-funded by SVSG through donations.
The Innovation and Excellence Team Award received today is therefore an achievement for the Group, as it struggles to source out secured funding for its Advocacy Program for the Courts.
In receiving the award today, SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges the support from the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Papalii John Taimalelagi Afelé as highlighted by the Ministry’s nomination of SVSG for the award.
“Thank you so much Papalii and staff for recognizing the Ministry’s partnership with SVSG as effective and collaborative in achieving justice. SVSG will continue being the voice of the voiceless and we look forward to continue working in partnership with the Ministry.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
President of SVSG Samoa