The child rights movement to ‘Stop the Violence Against Children’ currently underway in Savaii by the Samoa Victim Support Group continues to gather momentum.
The movement is lead by Ms. Leilua Lino, the 2018 Finalist for the International Children’s Peace Prize and the 2019 Winner for the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Award. Twenty more children survivors of violence cared for at the Campus of Hope shelter facility joined Ms. Leilua in what has been described by Reverend Leusoalii Laki of the Methodist Church at Vaipua as “the children survivors pleading with the parents to stop abusing their children, while appealing to the children to ‘speak out’ against violence.”
In humility, we witnessed how the village and church leaders have accepted the children survivors and their message of Hope into their communities, with respect. Such mentality influence by the children over their elders is a challenge to our cultural norms, which to SVSG, is a welcoming challenge in the context of child protection.
The children’s singing and testimonies were reciprocated with silent tears and warm embrace, as the effectiveness of the children’s plea to ‘Stop the Violence’ reaches the hearts of the eight village communities in the Salega, Alataua West and the Falealupo constituencies.
And as the children traveled across the villages from the south of Savaii at Sagone to the far east at Tufutafoe, its followers increases by the day, who will in turn continued to advocate for an end to violence, even when the children returns to the Campus.
The child rights movement had therefore gathered momentum in Savaii, which is vital in setting the platform when the movement reaches Upolu in the coming months.
So as the year 2020 of the global pandemic and all its uncertainties closes to an end, we find courage in seeing hope through the eyes of our children, and respect through the acceptance by our parents of their collective responsibility to fight for our families right to live, free from abuse.
But there is more that has been gained from the trip to Savaii. According to the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, “this movement has also enabled us to assess the ability of the children survivors of violence under our care to fit back into the community once they are reintegrated. We are used to long roads to recovery, but seeing the children survivors flourishing as they advocated for an end to violence, is part and partial of the rescue and restore nature of SVSG’s work.”
“Thank you to UNICEF Pacific for supporting SVSG’s child protection work for the children of Samoa.
Last but not the least, thank you to all the people of Savaii for your hospitality towards the children. A special thanks to the ‘Alii & Faipule’, the church leaders and the women’s committee of Sagone for hosting the children in what has been one of the most memorable experience for this ‘home away from home’ trip. We came as invited guests, we stayed as friends, and left as family. To God be the Glory always.”