Turning darkness into the light of life was the theme the third year students of the Malua Theological College shared with the children at the Campus of Hope on Sunday.
It was a theme that guided the students missionary work with the children of hope, placing emphasis on how God has transformed the creation as per Genesis 1: 1:“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkeness was on the face of the deep ……..Then God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.”
In leading up to the children’s special day as per the Annual White Sunday celebration, more than 20 third year students and their wives from the Malua Theological College spent the Sunday with the children at the Campus, as part of their ‘Faamasani’ or Practical Ministry program. It has been an ongoing program since it first started with SVSG in 2011.
And every year, the future church leaders educated at Malua have been innovative in their approaches with the children, and this year was no different. Everyone was allocated into 4 teams; the children the wives and the students. This is team building leading up to team work. Next, there were activities, presentations and talent quests, all as a team. From the children with disabilities to the toddlers to the older ones, everyone worked in a team and it was nothing short of hilarious. This is confidence building as part of community engagement.
For most of the students and their wives, this was the first time they have visited the Campus, and it showed. As mothers, the wives were holding the toddlers, others were on the floor working with the children through their paintings and drawings. Others, just observed in amazement at the transformation they saw on each child’s face, despite the darkness of the trauma each child must have endured. This is part of rehabilitation.
According to Reverend Filemoni Crawley, the Lecturer in Practical Theology who lead the visiting delegation, “We wanted to share with the children the love of God, as He wanted us to remind the children that His love will always be a shining light in our hearts.”
From morning until late afternoon, the fellowship continued. The wives hosted a delicious lunch and desert for the children followed by more singing and praising. Time is of the essence as the spirit of God moves amongst the fellowship; one of the experiences that both the children, the students and their wives will never forget.
To ensure that they have a contribution towards the children’s daily caring, donation of food and clothes were presented before a blessed day ended.
“Thank you so much Reverend Maafala Limā, Principal of the Malua Theological College for supporting the sustainability of the parternship between SVSG and the College. This is our collective responsibility towards the abused and the neglected among us. Thank you also to Rev. Filemoni Crawley for coordinating such an innovative program with the students and their wives. You have surely put on a special treat for the children for White Sunday.” Siliniu Lina Chang
The children survivors of violence and neglect under the care of Samoa Victim Support Group at the Campus of Hope, Tuanaimato, cheered the teachers on as they celebrated World Teachers Day this week.
While the request from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, was to have the 26 contestants to the Teachers Day Pageant visit the Campus as part of the pageant program, the children congratulated the teachers in style.
The children danced and sang beautifully which brought the contestant to tears. Because despite the trauma and the horrific nature of the abuses they have endured, their smiles attest to God’s love through their healing.
This is the first year in which the Ministry has hosted a pageant amongst the teachers to celebrate World Teachers Day. And for all the contestants, this was the first time they have visited the Campus of Hope. A memory each of them will take back to their respective schools and shared with their students on the fact that despite the difficulties in life, there is always hope, as seen through the eye of the children of hope.
The teachers donated $200 and gift hampers for the children with an additional $310 collected from the teachers and the children’s entertainment.
“Thank you to the Chief Executive Officer of MESC, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga –Fuatai for including the children of hope in the Teachers Day celebration this year. Thank you also to the Assistant CEO Tauti Jenny Lauano for coordinating the visit.”
“To all the 26 contestants to the Inaugural Teachers Day Pageant 2018, you are all winners to the children of hope.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The rehabilitation programs for the children survivors of abuse cared for at the Campus of Hope are geared towards what is in the best interest of each individual child. While some children are into singing, dancing, reading or gardening, others are more into sports. The latest success story being the Golden Girl Feagaiga Stowers in the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast earlier this year.
Today, a champion in baskeball, Brian Kerle of the Brian Kerle Baskeball Academy visited the Campus for the first time, with young basketall players from Brisbane Australia who are in the country as part of the Ball 4 Change Project by Jada Faanana Schultz and collegues back in Brisbane.
How Brian Kerle ended up at the SVSG office on a Friday afternoon during a scheduled meeting between SVSG and Jada on a different project, is beyond us. However, SVSG is certain that it was not by chance, because there was an immediate connection with the tall champion. In less than an hour, Brian Kerle knew enough about SVSG’s work to confirm his interest to lend a hand.
He started off being an inspirational speaker during the SVSG Tina Faufautua Program, as well as the SVSG Men’s Advocacy Program, for the court referred offenders of violence. In between basketball clinics, Brian Kerle will be seen at the SVSG office ready to spent some time with the young offenders.
The visit at the Campus of Hope reaffirmed Brian Kerle’s belief that “Things happen in our lives for a reason. Today is one of those. We will make it work.”
Promoting health and developing children through sports, the Ball 4 Change project will become one of the possible outlets for the abused children’s anger, hurt and disappointment with the different circumstances that affected their lives. Who knows, there might be some professional basketball players to be recruited from the Campus of Hope.
“Thank you so much Brian Kerle and the team for including a visit at the Campus as part of your schedule as well as the donated goods for the children. We look forward to seeing you all next year. Thank you also to Jada for reaching out to support this important part of SVSG’s work with the abused children, apart from your initial engagement with SVSG to support the newly empowered nofotane women.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Staff members of the District Court Prosecution Division of the Attorney General’s Office visited the Samoa Victim Support’s office bearing donations of food, clothes, shoes and toys for the children survivor of violence cared for at the SVSG shelter facilities – the Campus of Hope.
Under the leadership of Silupevaelai Rexona Titi, the donation was put together by members of the District Court Prosecution Division, as a token of their appreciation for SVSG’s work in collaboration with them at the Family Court.
The work includes the application on behalf of the abused women and children for Interim Protection Orders, the shelter care, the counseling support, the transport to and from the shelters to the Police or the Attorney General’s office for interview; to the hospital for the required medicals.
According to a representative of the Division, Lupematasila Iliganoa Atoa, “SVSG does all its work for free, out of the goodness of your hearts, so here we are, presenting these goods, to show our appreciation of the work that you do.”
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledged the support from the District Court Prosecution Division of the Attorney General’s Office.
“Thank you for including the children survivors of violence cared for at the Campus of Hope, in your charity activity this week. We look forward to seeing you more often in these charitable occasions besides the usual collaborative work we do at the Family Court.”
Children of Hope reverberates ‘Mama Linas’ name in their hearts.
This was the testimony by Ms Kaylin Miller, who is a third year student at Loma Linda University, California. Ms Miller is currently studying for a Doctorate of Psychology.
While observing and assisting children at the School of Hope for two months, she shared about the constant referral by the children to Mama Lina, “We love Mama Lina; or Mama Lina is coming to see us.” ‘Mama Lina’ is what the children of hope called the President of Samoa Victim Support Group, Siliniu Lina Chang.
Ms Miller was amazed, “this was something I never experienced before, witnessing children longing for that “motherly love” all the time”.
“I know that I may be growing up in the States where love should be prioritized all the time, but hey, this is the first time I’ve felt the warmth of such love shared by these children through the guidance of “Mama Lina”, says Ms Miller.
Ms Miller was helping as a teacher aide at the School of Hope, and her psychology background was obvious as she dealt with each child with patient and encouragement.
And Ms. Miller has promised to return. “I will come back and work at SVSG.” In the meantime, Ms Miller is now ready to be one of SVSG’s ambassador in California, to raise awareness about SVSG’s work for the abused children and the need for assistance.
“I will take these memories with me while returning to my hometown and share it with my family, classmates and also tutors at Loma Linda University,” she concluded.
Nofotane – The Woman Behind the Product
Her role in the family is a servant. Her place is usually in the kitchen. She does not have a voice. She is the *nofotane woman. BUT! She is valuable; born a creator with a purpose in life. Empower her, and she will empower her family. It’s a hard fought battle, yet rewarding *Nofotane translates as ‘stay or live with husband’
A glimpse of the Nofotane Story is attached to all the products created by the empowered nofotane women, which are now shared by anyone who wears the products.
The most popular are the red lopa seeds sewn into lanyards, in addition to the hand printed materials (elei), sewn into bags, suitable for meeting, conferences, trainings and other similar occasions.
The latest were 400 participants to the Cutting Edge Conference held in New Zealand from 12 – 15 September 2018, who wore the popular lopa seeds, sown into lanyards by close to 20 self-employed nofotane women (2 from Manono-tai, 1 from Luatuanuu, 1 from Pata Falelatai, and more than 15 women from Foailuga Savaii).
It’s unique, it’s innovative, and it’s specific to the empowered nofotane women and their story of hardship, which makes their empowerment all the more rewarding.
Similarly in Samoa, the nofotane products will be worn by 50 participants to the Pacific Judicial Conference hosted by the Samoa Judicary from 24 – 28 September.
The products include lopa lanyards and printed handbags who will be worn by the 50 participants from New Zealand, Australia, United States of America, Papua New Guinea, Guam, Fiji, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Palau, Niue, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. The extent of the nofotane women’s story of empowerement will now reach the Pacific region through word of mouth, and through the products worn by the participants to these international conferences.
This is part and partial of the sustainability support Samoa Victim Support Group continues to provide for the newly self-employed nofotane women in Samoa.
The ongoing support from the different denominations around Samoa continues for the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse cared for by Samoa Victim Support Group at the Campus of Hope.
The latest was the Church of the Nazareth from Ululoloa, led by Pastor Talomua and Mona Fetaiai and accompanied by members of the Nazarene Theological College.
There was fellowship with the children, sharing, praying and singing in thanksgiving, for despite the difficulties in life, we are always embraced in God’s grace.
Mona encouraged the children to pray for God’s peace and to move forward with forgiving hearts as they each have a purpose in life.
The Nazareth Church of Ululoloa presented various donations during the visit including fire woods, banana, taro, sacks of rice, boxes of noodles, papayas, coconuts, and toiletry supplies.
“Thank you so much Pastor Talomua & Mona Fetaiai, the Nazarene Theological College and the congregation from Ululoloa for your contributions towards the rehabilitation of the children through the spiritual sharing. Thank you also for the food supplies which will assist us with the daily caring of the children.” Siliniu Lina Chang
We lool forward to your next visit to continue our working in partnership as part of the children’s rehabilitation program.
Fire and emergencies can happen any time, any where.
As such, part of Samoa Victim Support Group’s responsibilities as a carer of abused and vulnerable children at the Campus of Hope shelter facility, is to ensure that the children are aware of the safety procedures should an emergency happen.
Ongoing trainings from the Fire and Emergency Safety Authority (FESA) assisted SVSG in ensuring the children’s safety while at the Campus.
During the week, Commander Kueni Alatimu of FESA led the 5-member training team who shared with the children on what to do, where to evacuate to and some assistance required in times of fires or other emergencies. Demonstrations were carried out on how to put out a fire, staying calm and helping others in times of emergencies.
The training motivated some of the children survivors of violence cared for at the Campus to become firefighters themselves as they relate really well to the life-saving nature of FESA’s work.
“Thank you so much to the Commissioner of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, Salā Fa’afouina Mupō for coordinating this training. Thank you also to Commander Kueni Alatimu and the team for being patient with the children during the training session.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
We look forward to ongoing sessions w ith the Team at Tuanaimato for the safety of the children on Campus.
Sarah Amituanai from Sydney Australia visited the children at the Campus of Hope 4 years ago with her dance school and family, and made a donation for the children. According to Sarah, “It was an honour to meet such amazing little souls the first time and they are always on my mind here in Australia.”
Last Friday, Sarah and her family revisited the Campus of Hope during a family trip to Samoa. The family spent time playing with the children while Sarah got to hold some of the babies at the nursery shelter. Sarah and her family donated not only clothes but also some snacks and goodies for the children.
Siliniu Lina Chang, the SVSG President thanked Sarah for revisiting and donating for the children, and for including time spent at the Campus as part of their family visit.
Sarah has pledged another visit to the Campus in the future and to maintain the partnership with SVSG to support the abused children.
The respective leaders in respective Stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints throughout Upolu and Savaii continued to support the Church’s pledge, to assist Samoa Victim Support Group with the daily necessities of the abused children under its care.
The latest donation of food supplies was received from the Upolu Samoa East Stake from Aleipata. Presenting the donation were Stake President Sanele Su’a and Bishop Tusi Toilolo, accompanied by the elderly in the Stake, including Iakopo Ofoalii Kolose, Leoo Masefau, Soo Su’a, Leota Su’a and many others.
Seeing these leaders and the elderly carrying bags of rice, boxes of noodles, bags of taro and banana as part of their contribution towards caring for the abused children, was humbling.
And the donation came at just the right time as Campus was running short of stable food supplies such as taro and banana for the children’s meals.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang was at the Campus of Hope to receive the donation and to acknowledged the hearts of the Church leaders and the individual families in the Upolu Samoa East Stake of Aleipata, for sparing their families food supplies, to give for the abused children.
Acknowledged also is the commitment from the LDS Church leaders for partnering with SVSG for the children’s welfare needs.
Faafetai, Faafetai, Faafetai tele lava
President of SVSG Samoa