A holiday with some volunteer work for the vulnerable and the abused children at the Campus of Hope, was Coralie Allen and her friend Julia Stewart’s idea of a fruitful time in paradise. And even with only a week’s holiday, the two spared 1 day to fellowship with the children and treated them to new haircuts.
Based in Sydney, providing hair treats for the vulnerable is nothing new to these two Good Samaritans who do the same for the homeless in their community.
Coralie and Julie also presented a donation of toiletries collected from their church pastor and members as well as snacks and break for the children.
“Thank you Coralie and Julie for keeping the volunteer spirit alive, and for treating the children to new haircuts before school starts. Wishing you both a blessed year ahead and as you continued to support the vulnerable members of your community through your talent.” Georgina Lui, Chair of SVSG Board
The youth sub group of Samoa Victim Support Group, the SVSG (Junior) utilized the opportunity presented by the Teine Toa crew of My Story 61, to connect and establish a partnership with the Australian group.
Initially referred from the SVSG (Queensland), the SVSG (Junior) had been liaising with the MS61 Director Lillian Su’a in organizing the Group’s visit and its 2-days program at the Campus of Hope.
The young children and the older girls cared for at the Campus were inspired by the show My Story 61, that they is always hope. That despite the feeling of despair, confusion, hurt and suicidal, the show and inspiring testimonies by some of the Group members encouraged the children of the victory that comes from being hopeful.
The SVSG (Junior) on the other hand were more empowered by the show to rise above the struggles they face and in advocating for everyday issues affecting the young people in Samoa. This is very important as the youths continued their volunteer services to bring about positive changes in the lives of young people in which the SVSG (Junior) and its program target.
Unemployment, child vendor, troubled teen, suicidal sexually abused teens, bullying, the list goes on. These are the real life issues the SVSG (Junior) and the Teine Toa programs are addressing, which make the new partnership approach a way forward for our work with the youth in Samoa.
According to the Chair of the SVSG Board Mrs. Georgina Lui during her presentation to the Leadership of Samoa Program in 2017 on ‘The real life problems facing our youth today’, Mrs. Lui talked about “the amazing youth of today and how we can help appreciate their strength, their potential and their ability to steer our future.” This is youth empowerment and this is how we can address the problems they are facing.
Thank you Lillian Su’a and the Teine Toa Group for an inspiring and empowerment program with us.
As our country comes to term with the stabbing horror of a couple last Friday, Samoa Victim Support Group is appealing to our people that help is just a phone call away. This is through SVSG’s Helpline number 800-7874 which is free and is a 24-hour service.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding family violence cases, it is SVSG’s experience that the effect of anger not only on the perpetrator, the survivor but also on the innocent children, always end up in horror.
As a support service provider, SVSG’s network of supporters is always within reach. We have the SVSG village representatives in villages throughout Samoa and the church leaders whom we have been working with, to provide immediate support. We are therefore calling on our village representatives and our church leaders to be vigilant of families in domestic situations and lend a helping hand wherever possible.
To the husbands and fathers in our families, you do not have to carry the burden on your own, SVSG’s counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Help is therefore just a phone call away through the 800-7874 free Help Line number. “As President of SVSG, please, all that we ask of you is to call us, when in need of help. It is the only way we will be able to assist you and to save that extra life.”Siliniu Lina Chang.
We pray for a speedy recovery for the couple involved, and a safer journey for all our families as we set sail this year
Bernadine’s call for help to Samoa Victim Support Group was not for support.
However, the call was to help with her birthday wish – to give to the less fortunate and sharing this spirit of giving with her own children.
Bernadine’s wish was granted when her family visited the children at the Campus of Hope, donating stationeries and candies.
The young family is from Melbourne and have expressed an interest to join the SVSG (Melbourne) sub group of SVSG. Thank you Micky, Bernadine and the children for the short but heart-warming visit with the children. We are glad we were able to help you with our birthday wish.
It has been a while since two of our children with disabilities have last seen each other.
Their reunion at the Campus during the weekend was therefore a humbling experience.
In their own simple ways, they reached out to each other, remembering as if it was yesterday, how they have been abandoned, saved, nurtured and now grew up to be stronger individuals.
Their smiles say it all.
Following the festive season where many of our families and friends returned home, SVSG opened its donation box located at the Faleolo International Airport.
Thank you so much to all those who placed a dollar or two inside the box, for your donation helps Samoa Victim Support Group provide daily maintenance for the campus.
A total of ST1900.00 was collected from our donation box at year end.
Fa’afetai, Fa’afetai, Fa’afetai
“O au o matua fanau”. This Samoan adage captures the preciousness of children as blessings bestowed upon parents, communities and nations. They are to be cared for and nurtured in an environment where their self-esteem and sense of destiny are secure. In due course they will also be depended on and responsible for the survival and posterity of their families, communities and nation.
As a strong advocate of child rights in Samoa, our child protection efforts have received a brutal battering with the news of the murder of a 15-year old boy last week.
It is incidents as such “which burns the blood and we feel quiet violent ourselves, when we hear the horror that our precious blessings have been subjected to”, as alluded to by the Chair of the SVSG Board, Mrs. Georgina Lui during her keynote address for the SVSG Dinner of Hope late last year. Mrs. Lui went on to say that “In moments of calm, I tell myself, the best way to fight the injustice is to support our President and her team as best I can – because we all know that violence is NOT the answer.”
But it is not only SVSG’s responsibility, or the parent’s responsibility, but a collective responsibility of a nation, as our children are our future.
Caring for a few of the children survivors of violence we have been able to save, at the Campus of Hope makes us appreciate the collective effort of the community in being the voice for the voiceless. But many more of our abused children, including the 15 year old boy being murdered over the week, are without a voice, and in severe situations, fall through the gap in our support system.
As a family, we can overcome evil. We can rise up and take a collective effort to save our children. If you hear or witness violence, please be the voice for the voiceless. Call SVSG’s Helpline on 800-7874. It is free and it is a 24-hour service. We respect your decision if you wish to remain anonymous, as long as that phone call will save a child’s life.
Our condolences to the grieving parents as they come to terms with this great loss. At SVSG, one life lost is one life too many. As such, we are calling for a unity in our stance in protecting our children.
Church and village leaders of Falevao, Lalomauga, Falefa, Faleapuna, Lufilufi, Lona, Salimu, Maasina, Samamea, Musumusu, Uafato from the Anoamaa East and Vaa o Fonoti constituencies gathered for 3 days at Falevao to support the 18th session of the livelihood training for the Nofotane project.
The leaders support contributes to the success of the economic empowerment of nofotane women as the training continues to roll out in villages throughout Samoa. Such support speaks volume for the ongoing advocacy role the leaders play in raising awareness in village communities about the benefit of the project not only to the nofotane woman and her family, but also to the wider community. The advocacy training of village leaders was the first stage of the project where more than 500 village and church leaders were trained to effectively advocate for the project.
For the villages from the Vaa o Fonoti constituency, they travelled from across the hill to the training venue for 3 days, just to offer this support.
And the response from the hundreds of nofotane women who participated assured the leaders that their support was worth it, as new products were created while old skills were revived to create innovative products, with a monetary value, utilizing resources from the environment.
Rev. Risati Noaese of the Congregational Christian Church of Falevao encouraged the participants to use the opportunity presented by the Nofotane project wisely for the benefit of their children, families and the community as a whole.
A high chief of Lona Fagaloa, and an SVSG village representative Leala Siitia shared the same sentiment “Who would have thought that SVSG would go out of its way to empower nofotane women, not for the Group, but for the genuine interest to support our families, and this is the difference SVSG’s program continues to provide our people.”
SVSG’s standing with regards to the project and our culture remains, as according to SVSG President, “a nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa. The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.”
The 17th livelihood training for the Nofotane Project which was centered at Matafufu included Vavau and Lotofaga, once again highlighted the expansion of the project reach to include faiava (married men living with wife’s family) and youth, making up 29% of the participants.
While the project focus is on the improved access to sustainable employment and the economic empowerment of nofotane women, the continuous expansion of the project reach beyond the most vulnerable group of women to include unemployed married men and youth is the uncalculated effect of the economic empowerment component of the project. To SVSG, this uncalculated effect of the project is part of the holistic approach the organization is taking to address family violence through encompassing the whole family in its program.
The majority of the participants were unemployed nofotane women at 71%, and similar to the previous training sessions, the participants were not only empowered economically through livelihood skills such as elei printing, commercial cooking, flower arrangement and handicraft, but also socially, through the self-esteem module SHINE, which is now proven popular with the nofotane women.
New products produced by the nofotane women during this 17th session included woven fruit bowls which are now earning the women a source of income. The creativity of the nofotane women is commended for it highlighted their willingness to learn and be innovative in their approaches to earning an income for their families.
According to Rev. Faasalafa Alaovae of the Congregational Christian Church Matatufu “it is rewarding to see the women learning a skill and earning an income from the products they produced, for it contributed a lot to their families’ welfare.”
With the continuous expansion of the project reach at this stage to include unemployed faiava and youth, the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang is grateful that the uncalculated effect of the project is benefiting other members of the community besides the nofotane women. However she still maintains that “A nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa. The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.”
“Leaving no one behind” sums up the 15th livelihood training session for the economic empowerment of nofotane women at the Falealili constituency as part of the SVSG and the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality project currently underway. Centered at the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints Tafatafa, the training catered for women from eleven villages of Salani, Siuniu, Salesaele, Sapunaoa, Malaemal, Satalo, Tafatafa, Matautu-uta, Vaovai, Poutasi and Saleilua.
While m ore than 100 participants were unemployed nofotane women, twice as many who crowded the training hall were the church ministers, village leaders, husbands and children supporting the nofotane women on. The ripple effect to the community of the economic empowerment of nofotane women will see families husbands and wives each other, and the people of Falealili knew this as the community came on board to offer their support.
Mothers attended the training with their children. The village leaders hanged around the hall playing the guitar while the church ministers watched on.
Having husbands attending the livelihood training with their wives was something the project did not anticipate, yet, this shows the successful advocacy role, played by the SVSG village representatives, who have been advocating to the village, church and family leaders, to support the economic empowerment of nofotane women. This is a step towards changing mindsets, an important requirement for the goal of the project to be achieve d.
The four main skills of commercial cooking, fabric printing, handicraft and flower arrangement continued to be the focus of the livelihood training. The self-esteem module has become a favorite as the nofotane women were reminded of their worth, their purpose and their strength. The last day saw a celebration of the nofotane women being economically empowered hosted by the church and village leaders and the children through dancing, singing and light refreshments. At the end of the day, it is the community that benefits as the Falealili livelihood session highlighted the benefit of being economically empowered in leaving no one behind.
For the project, its goal remains that “a nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa. The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
President of SVSG Samoa