The demonstration of Jesus’ astonishing power when He calmed the storm while travelling with His disciples across the Sea of Galilee, was the theme for the inaugural Sunday program for the Third Year students of the Malua Theological College with the children at the Campus of Hope for 2019.
It was a theme that guided the students missionary work with the children of hope this year, emphasizing entrusting the God of miracles to provide us with the inner peace amidst the calamities of this life.
Close to 30 third year students and their wives spend the Sunday with the children at the Campus, as part of their ‘Faamasani’ or Practical Ministry program. This was the first Sunday of a 5-weeks program by the Theological students with the children of hope. It has been an ongoing program since it first started with SVSG in 2011, which added to the spiritual guidance for the children.
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 calm any storm in our lives.”
For most of the Theological students, last Sunday was their first time at the Campus and it shows. The emotions, the parental love for the children, the fellowship in Christ; it was calming and soothing to the troubled souls of the young ones.
To ensure that they have a contribution towards the children’s daily caring, donation of miscellaneous food and toiletry supplies 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 partnership 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 for the children.” Georgina Lui, Chair of the SVSG Board
The Advocacy Program coordinated by the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) for offenders of violence referred from the Family Court, is highlighted at the Pacific Regional Dialogue on Engaging Men to End Violence Against Women & Girls, in Sigatoka Fiji from 16th – 20thSeptember 2019.
Coordinated by the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, the Dialogue provides for the first time in the Pacific, a forum whereby perpetrator counselling programme experts joined the Pacific partners to share on international best practice.
SVSG’s Advocacy Program complements the operation of the Family Court in Samoa where offenders are referred to SVSG for anger management counselling rather than their separation from their families if they were imprisoned. It has not been an easy path to take to end violence against women through the perpetrators themselves. This is because counselling has been viewed by our people as a foreign concept, hence getting the offenders to openly discuss anger in a safe space took a lot of courage. But five years now since SVSG paved the way for anger management programs for the Family Court, we have changed behavior, changed mentality and changed social norms with perpetrators of violence now becoming men of change to end violene against women and girls.
SVSG is represented at the Pacific Dialogue by one of its Men of Change advocates, Mane Su’a, who had just returned over the weekend from attending the train the trainers program in Sri Lanka for the Breaking the Cycle: Men and Boys Engage Program to End Violence Against Women & Children, in which SVSG works in partnership with Spain, Sri Lanka, India, Netherlands, Madagascar. According to the Chair of the SVSG Board Mrs. Georgina Lui, “all of these work is to ensure that our families and our communities are safe.”
The national child protection agency, the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.), has called on mothers in Samoa to ask for help and not to take the lives of their newborn babies as Samoa reels from a second case of fatal child abandonment.
The President of the S.V.S.G., Siliniu Lina Chang, spoke out in response to two cases of babies who were found dead in the past month, one at sea and another on Saturday, adjacent to a trash bin at the Mulifanua wharf.
“No child whether young, old or new born deserves to die at the hands of the parents due to negligence, pride or poverty. All children are a gift from God,” she said.
“The children fulfil God’s purpose for the growth of His Kingdom here on earth and they have the right to life.
“Sadly, the incidences of abandoned babies in Samoa of late, remind us that all is not well in our beautiful slice of paradise.”
Siliniu said that questions about whom "to blame and what causes these catastrophes are not ours to ask.”
“As a child protection agency, S.V.S.G. is more concerned with how can we save another child from being abandoned or how else we can help save mothers in such situations?," she said.
“We are appealing to all our mothers in these situations to please, know that help is just a phone call away.
“Having the courage to reach out for help will not only save yourself, but most importantly, that gift of a child.”
She also added that earlier this year, they were greeted one morning by a newborn left outside their office door.
“We never asked who [or] what but we knew that whatever the situation may be, a child has been saved. He is now a healthy child at the House of Blessings nursery at the Campus of Hope.
“Mothers, before you make a decision to take a life by your own hands, know that you are not alone. At S.V.S.G., we are your family, and we are just a phone call away.
“All children are a gift from God and as such, they have the right to life like you and I.”
The S.S.V.G. operates a 24-hour free help line number: 800-7874.
News from: Samoa Observer
No child whether young, old or new born deserves to die at the hands of the parents due to negligence, pride or poverty. All children are a gift from God. They fulfill God’s purpose for the growth of His Kingdom here on earth. They have the right to life.
Sadly, the incidences of abandoned babies in Samoa of late, remind us that all is not well in our beautiful slice of paradise. Who to blame and what causes these catastrophies are not ours to ask.
As a child protection agency, SVSG is more concerned with how can we save another child from being abandoned?; how else we can help the mothers in such situations?
Samoa Victim Support Group is appealing to all our mothers in these situations to please, know that help is just a phone call away. The 24 hour free help line number is 800-7874 and it is confidential. Having the courage to reach out for help will not only save yourself, but most importantly, that gift of a child.
Earlier this year, we were greeted one morning by a bundle of joy being left outside our office door. We never asked who of what. We knew that whatever the situation may be, a child has been saved. He is now a healthy child at the House of Blessings nursery at the Campus of Hope.
The SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang is therefore calling on our mothers that “before you made a decision to take a life into your own hands, know that you are not alone. At SVSG, we are your family, and we are just a phone call away.”
All children are a gift from God and as such, they have the right to life like you and I.
"On behalf of us as parents, we ask for your forgiveness as our children, as God's gift to our families, to our homes. For we have not lived up to God's purpose in our lives, to love and to care for you. And because you are here, we are all in this together." Fijian Prayer Warrior.
This was the appeal from a prayer warrior representing the Deborah Ministries International when they visited the children at the Campus of Hope.
The appeal highlighted an important shift away from the silent acceptance of gender based violence; which has been apparent in Samoa and the Pacific region in the past; towards a more responsible community taking ownership of its actions towards the children.
The Deborah Ministries visited the children of Hope as prayer warriors, yet, the children's ministering left them in awe of God's love as seen from the smiles on the children’s faces. It was as if the roles were reversed and the children were encouraging the adults to be strong, and in turn, the adults asked for the children’s forgiveness.
The visiting Deborah Ministriescomprised of prayer warriors from New Zealand, Fiji and American Samoa. Accompanying the Debra Ministry was one of SVSG's Church Response Team Leader Pastor Sale Uelese of the Assembly of God Satapuala who reminded the children that "the love of God through Jesus Christ is above all." As such, He has a better plan for the children of hope, despite the ugliness of their past.
"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Before the 4-member team of the SVSG (Junior) departs for Sri Lanka in the coming week, the youths sought an audience with the Group’s Advisor, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson.
Mr. Franziska Finafinau, Ms. Petronilla Molio’o, Ms. Christine Tiupita and Mr. Mane Su’a will represent SVSG to the fourth component of the “Breaking the Cycle: Men and Boys Engage Project to End Violence Against Women”, hosted by the Foundation for Innovative Social Development in Sri Lanka, 3 – 11 September 2019.
The meeting with Justice Vui Clarence Nelson at his office is a rare opportunity for the youths and they were inspired. Because according to Justice Vui, “you all have to fully utilize this opportunity to learn new strategies to engage men and boys to break the cycle of violence; and that when you return, the knowledge and learnings will help with the epidemic that family violence is now causing our community.” Such words of wisdom, spoken by His Honor to the travelling youth, will challenge the team as they set out for the Training of Trainers program in Sri Lanka.
The ERASMUS+ project ‘Breaking the Cycle: Engaging men and boys for promoting gender equality and ending violence against women’is implemented by organizations from six countries with extensive experience in the field including:Center for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ) India, Centro Rural Joven Vids (CERUJIVI), Spain, Emancipator, Netherlands, Foundation for Innovative Social Development (FISD), Sri Lanka, Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), Samoa and Youth First, Madagascar.
So while Franziska and Mane continues on from the New Delhi Seminar in March and the Netherlands Study Tour in May, Petronilla and Christine will be on their first trip for the Breaking the Cycle project. The young women are very excited.
And we are glad that these youths feel excited about taking on the responsibility to change social norms on masculinity, and to break the cycle of violence by engaging men and boys in the conversation. It is all about building our youths to be accountable to their responsibilities, when one day, they will become leaders of our families and communities.
The men and boys under the various support programs run by Samoa Victim Support Group are walking the talk, that engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls is possible. And it starts with us.
Leading the changes are none other than the SVSG Junior members who have represented SVSG in the 6-nation project with Spain, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Netherlands and Samoa titled:“Breaking the Cycle: Men and Boys Engage to End Violence Against Women.”
The young men have been helping out at the Campus of Hope during the weekends, cooking for the children while teaching them the basics on food preparation.
The roles might be reversed as the matrons got to rest while the young men cooked for the children, but the important message Franziska and Mane wanted to put out there is that, gender role stereotype is a social norm that can be changed.
At the office, the parents of a troubled young man could not believe the changes in their son who was referred from the Courts to serve his community hours with SVSG. He has become a handy man in the office; sweeping, mopping and washing dishes. Who said that only women and girls can do these household chores? The young man has developed skills from the odd carpentry work he helped out with the office and kept him out of trouble.
And at the Men’s Advocacy Program for offenders of violence referred from the Family Court to undertake anger management programs with SVSG, the young and old joined the conversation on engaging men and boys to end violence against women. The Program had provided a safe space for the men to share on what they have done wrong and what they could have done better. “It all starts with us”, was their bold admission.
The men are now taking on an advocacy role by continuing the conversation in their homes and village communities.
So come the 3rdto 13thSeptember at the Men Engage Train the Trainer session in Sri Lanka, Franziska and Mane will be proud to present on the progress made by the men and boys under SVSG’s program towards the project “Breaking the Cycle: Men and Boys Engage to End Violence Against Women.”
Because according to the Chair of the SVSG Board Mrs. Georgina Lui, “we are not only changing behavior, but we are also changing social norms affecting violence against women, girls and children in Samoa.”
Despite the string of tragic incidents and what not during the past couple of weeks in the heart of Polynesia that we call home, an email received by Samoa Victim Support Group today from Perpignan France, reaffirmed our belief that there is still hope in humanity.
The email was from Tevita Mailau, a rugby union player who plays for Stade Montois, (a French rugby union team), and Tonga internationally. The email reads: “Talofa guys. Attached are photos from the fiafia night of performances, auction winners, programs etc and our Afrikan friends who donated cupcakes and lamningtons that spelt “SVSG”.”
Here is a non-governmental organization in the Pacific, yet, we have some of rugby greats in the likes of Jerome Kaino, Sekope Kepu, Fereti Tuilagi, Joe Tekori, Isaia Toeava, Filo Paulo to name a few, who came together to support a fundraising event organized by Tevita & Rose Mailau for SVSG.
Back in April this year, Tevita wrote to SVSG relaying his family’s wish to lend a helping hand for the people of Samoa through SVSG. “My name is Tevita, currently living in Perpignan, France. My wife Rose who runs and organises events here, has been interested in your organisation for some time now. She is wanting to run a fundraising event here in France to donate to SVSG within a few months time.”
And the fundraising was a success, raising EUR2000 now sent over to SVSG. Some of the rugby greats playing professional in the northern hemisphere donated rugby jerseys which were auctioned off during the fundraising event. From the photos shared by Tevita & Rose Mailau, it was truly a family event, where we can see our diverse island culture through entertainment being showcased, all in the name of humanity.
Because out of love for the children survivors of gender based violence at the Campus of Hope, and all the beneficiaries of SVSG’s work here in Samoa, the Pacific family in Perpignan France came together as one, illustrating humanity at its best.
The Chair of the SVSG Board, Mrs. Georgina Lui acknowledged the importance of this event to the work of SVSG. “Thank you so much Tevita & Rose Mailau for showing us that you care. You have gathered families and friends from the Pacific and together, you reminded us that, we are one family; with love from Perpignan France.”
As our country comes to term with the devastating news day after day over the last few weeks, 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 works 24 hours.
As a support service organization, SVSG’s could not help but feel for the families of those involved in these incidences. At the same time, we are challenged to step up on our community awareness programs to inform and to educate our people of the relevant support services available whenever in need of help.
From two people found dead in a car, to an identified dead baby boy found floating on the sea, and more recently, a father of 6 murdered on Fathers Day; we cannot believe that all of these catastrophies are happening in our peaceful Samoa.
Which is why as a community, we each have a part to play.
From SVSG’s corner, we have a network of supporters within reach through the SVSG village representatives around Samoa. The church leaders whom we have been working with are there to provide immediate support. We have the free Help Line number 800-7874 which gives you access to support 24/7, or if you wish to remain anonymous, you can just call us on the Help Line to relate a situation requiring assistance and we will take it from there.
Because regardless of the circumstances surrounding these devastating occurrences around us, 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.
We pray for comfort to the children and families of those who have been affected by the incidents of the past weeks. May God’s peace and grace be upon the people of Samoa.
For immediate support, please call the 800-7874 Help Line.
It is FREE and it is a 24-hour service.
As part of the Manu Samoa team’s preparation for the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan in September, the boys in blue sought the children’s blessings during their visit at the Campus of Hope today. The Campus is a temporary refuge for children survivors of gender based violence under the care of Samoa Victim Support Group.
For a Team that trained at the High Performance Unit (HPU) across the road from the Campus, it was the first time that most of them have set foot inside the Campus of Hope. “We see you running around, we hear you singing while we carry out our training, yet, the atmosphere when we stepped inside the Campus is nothing but a blessing.” Alapati Leiua.
The children were excited to see their national heroes in person once again following the Team’s visit last year. They were touched by the sincerity of the Manu Samoa’s encouragement that “they are loved and that despite their past, there is always hope.”
To the children’s delight, the Team performed the Siva Samoa before presenting them with rugby balls for their sporting activities.
Tafatoa Sam Fruean represented SVSG in acknowledging the visit by the Manu Samoa to seek the children’s blessings for their Rugby World Cup campaign. “Know that you have a strong team of supporters as the children of hope cheered you on from the safety of the Campus.” Tafatoa Sam Fruean