Samalaeulu, a village situated on the northeast side of Savaii, is one of the seventh community taking part in a primary prevention program currently rolled out by the Samoa Victim Support Group in partnership with UNICEF Pacific.
The 2-years prevention program is to enable the 7 selected communities to have a better understanding of violence against children and are able to prevent and respond to the same. This is through meaningful engagement of the stakeholders including parents, matais, women, village council, church leaders, adolescents and youth, and children. It is the first ever program that SVSG had implemented where children and families at risk are brought together, to be part of the community dialogue to end violence against children.
Samalaeulu is the only community in Savaii taking part in the prevention program. According to Deacon Tulolo Feturi of the Samalaeulu Catholic Parish, the trainings on Life Skills for Adolescents as well as the Positive Discipline Parenting are amongst the first ever programs involving the community at Samalaeulu, and it is a timely intervention.
This is due to the fact that the community at Samalaeulu seems detached from what is happening around them as they are geographically located by the dangerous Maliolio River and the stretch of Lava Fields.
But as a village that is proud of its part in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in Samoa as well as its resilience to rise up from the effect of natural catastrophies, it was therefore fitting that the Catholic Church at Samalaeulu opened up its doors to house the adolescent training for the program. There was a general feeling of positivity, of vibrancy, and an eagerness to learn amongst the adolescents, while the sharing and the owning up by the parents on how they have mistreated their children physically, verbally and emotionally, is a perfect start to greater things ahead for Samalaeulu, in protecting and caring the children.
From SVSG’s experience in working with the community, this is the influence that the Church-led commitments has on any community intervention to address violence, whether it be against women, girls, children or gender based.
According to the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, “SVSG is glad that it has reached out to the community at Samalaeulu, and had started meaningful engagement with the key stakeholders there to support the parents in positively disciplining their children; while at the same time, teach the adolescents life skills to better protect themselves.”
“Thank you to the UNICEF Pacific for such a valuable partnership we’ve had over the years, and which continues to develop to date.”