The Buddying up program in which the Samoa Victim Support Group and the International Labour Organisation have been working on to get the child vendors back to school, has been a success. A total of 30 child vendors participated in the 10-day program from 21 – 30 January 2019. With the Program coming to an end, there will be new beginnings for 12 vendors ages 6, 7 and 8 who should be enrolled for the first time as primary school students before the end of February 2019.
SVSG’s ‘next step’, is to source out sponsorship for these children’s education covering birth certificates to school uniforms to enrolment fees and other miscellaneous costs.
For 10 years old Faustina Aperaamo of Falelauniu, she is the proud recipient of a scholarship worth $1,000 courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Eli Tagi of New Zealand, to cover Faustina’s education for the whole of 2019. Due to financial hardships in her home, Faustina has been out of school for 2 year.
For the rest of the child vendors ages 10 to 17, opportunities are available to attend the Hot Soup Skill Building training program carried out by SVSG at the Campus of Hope currently funded by the Office of the US Embassy.
But looking back to the child vendors journey from Day 1 up to this second to last day of the program, the SVSG Juniors, have achieved so much more than they have set out to do; the children are now more disciplined, they have learnt the importance of respect, working as a team, looking after each other; most of all, the children have valued the importance of education.
How can they not when they have visited workplaces to challenge them to reach for the sky. Apart from the visits to the Fire and Emegency Services Authourity, the Ministry of Police, the children also visited the TV3, the Samoa Rugby Union, the Samoa Observer, the Radio 2AP, and Taumeasina Island Resort.
Today, in giving back to the community, the child vendors and their youth buddies cleaned up the town area from the Flea Market at Sogi to the Black Sand beach at the Apia Waterfront. It was a fun activity that taught the children to be responsible for our environment.
The ‘graduation ceremony’ for the child vendors will be held at the Campus of Hope at Tuanaimato on Wednesday, 30 January 2019 at 9.00am where the children will be awarded with Certificates. Special awards for the Best Buddy and for the Most Disciplined Buddy will also be presented. With the ending of the Buddying up Program, new beginnings are now set for its partcipants.
President of SVSG Samoa