The Chair of the SVSG Board, Mrs. Georgina Lui was at the Campus of Hope to welcome members of The Alofa Charitable Trust (T.A.C.T) from New Zealand during their visit today.
There were two parts to the visit; firstly was to see the children at the Campus and to present a donation of $1,000 with ice cream for the children. Secondly, was to meet for the first time the three child vendors now returned to school following the SVSG’s Buddy-up Program with child vendors earlier this year. T.A.C.T has been sponsoring school fees and uniforms for these three children since Term 1 to date.
The visiting T.A.C.T was led by Levaoatuamaaana Aati-Schuster, a former director of the SVSG (Auckland) now serving the Samoan community in Auckland as a registered Social Service Charitable Trust in New Zealand.
Speaking on behalf of SVSG, Georgina Lui commended the T.A.C.T for continuing to support the work of SVSG. “I know that you have renamed yourself to the Alofa Charitable Trust but its really good to know that you still have the heart of SVSG with you, and you still want to affiliate with us, and so we are very grateful for that.”
For some members of the T.A.C.T, the visit was their first time at the Campus of Hope and they were amazed by the love of God emanating from just being there.
T.A.C.T will now return to New Zealand knowing that their Group had contributed in putting back to school three of the hundreds of children working on the streets as child vendors. It is all about loving our people.
Thirty personnels from Samoa Victim Support Group now have an improved understanding of how to support our people in crisis situation after completing the 3-day training on the Crisis Resilience Model (CRM).
Coordinated by the School of Behavioural Health from the Loma Linda University of California, the training was hosted by the National University of Samoa in collaboration with the Samoa Victim Support Group.
It is all about SVSG continuously building its personnel to better support our people in need. And this is the second time since SVSG has been committed to the Trauma Training by Loma Linda University that started last year.
However, this time, SVSG has expanded its reach to include not only its staff, but also program facilitators, SVSG village representaives from Upolu and Savaii, youth members from the SVSG Junior, nofotane women and girl survivors of sexual abuse from the Campus of Hope.
The language barrier did not hinder the learning process for the enthusiastic trainees, especially representatives of village leaders from the community. In fact, according to Fiu Leaupepe, one of the elderly facilitators of the Youth Empowerment Program for young offenders, “you are never too old to learn, and with the crisis situation of family violence in Samoa, we need to continuously learn new strategies to deal with people mostly affected.”
For SVSG and its personnel to be empowered by internationally recognized institutions such as Loma Linda University and the National University of Samoa, is all for the betterment of our service to our people.
Georgina Lui, the Chair of the SVSG Board acknowledges the ongoing partnership with the Loma Linda University in supporting capacity building in specific areas of SVSG’s support services. “Thank you Talolo
Tua Lepale, Director of Field Education and Assistant Professor as well as Dr. Beverly J Buckles, Dean of the School of Behavioural Health of the Loma Linda University for helping us help our people better.”
As the country geared up for the official closing of the XVI Pacific Games on Saturday, the children survivors of gender based violence cared for at the Campus of Hope, were treated to a special visit from the Upolu Malie Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.
While the visit forms part of the Church’s commitment to a partnership with the Samoa Victim Support Group, this one was special as it included a Thanksgiving Service for the children, especially for Feagaiga Stowers and her weightlifiting achievements during the Pacific Games.
It was truly a family gathering with parents and their children accompanying the church leaders of the Stake, President Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, President Tema Siaunuua and President Sikuava Ajawas to the visit.
In leading the spiritual sharing, President Pulotu emphasized the importance of ones family. It was a most fitting message for the visit. “Your refuge and your identity is your family And we are thankful to all those who are responsible for providing you this refuge, rehabilitating you towards a positive identity and caring for you as their own children. May God bless each and everyone of you for this work of love.”
Apart from sharing on the love of God, the Upolu Malie Stake also put together a variety of food and toiletry donations to assist with the children’s daily needs. The rest of the morning was spent cleaning up the whole compound for the children.
“As the Chair of the SVSG Board, I congratulate the leaders of the LDS Church in Samoa for remaining true to the partnership with SVSG. Thank you President Pulotu Chu Ling, President Tema Siaunuua and President Sikuava Ajawas for coordinating this beautiful thanksgiving visit with the children.” Georgina Lui
I left Samoa for Hawaii on Sunday while the whole country awaited the opening of the Pacific Games.
I had to admit that I was sad to be apart from my loving husband and family for a while, and missed out on the much anticipated Pacific Games. However, deep inside me, I was nervous, excited, looking forward, you name it; I wanted to see the bigger world out here. And I love what I’ve seen.
I travelled through Auckland then to Honolulu. As part of the sponsorship by the US Embassy Apia, I am staying at the Lincoln Hall at the University of Hawaii Manoa. Yes, here is a nofotanewoman who earns a living from weaving plastic trash into bags, enjoying life of a University student. But who said dreams can’t come true.
Since I arrived on 7thJuly as a participant to the Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Seminarcoordinated by the East-West Centre of the University of Hawaii, I have never studied harder in my whole life.
I am struggling to keep up with the language associated with being a business woman, but hey, I am one of these women now.
I’ve learnt to draw up my own Action Plan; I’ve conquered my fear of public speaking when I did a power point presentation as required for all the participants. I’ve been doing homework every night to build myself up as a leader, a mentor, a business woman. And I am enjoying the experience while smiling my way through it all. Another fellow participant also from Samoa, Mrs. Fiona Ey of the Clarke Ey Koria Lawyers can vouch for that.
I will return to Samoa on Sunday, 20thJuly being a member of the Changing Faces Women’s Leaders program. I know that with the money I’ve earned from selling a variety of woven products, I am able to support my family; but with the knowledge and ideas I’ve learnt from this Seminar, these will go a long way in supporting the sustainability of being a self-employed nofotanewoman.
One take home lesson worth noting is the importance of helping other women along. As such, I am looking forward to working with the Samoa Victim Support Group, the US Embassy in Apia and the Nofotane women, to continue the momentum of the Nofotane Project, which gave us a voice and enabled us to participate in family and community matters.
Look at me now; I am one proud nofotanewoman, a living testimony of a return on investing in women’s economic empowerment. Mahalo nui!
As the countdown to the official opening of the 16thPacific Games in Apia continues, there is a patriotic feeling amongst our people and the region as a whole.
Amongst them is 18 year Feagaiga Stowers, an athlete in weightlifting who will be Samoa’s Flag Bearer for Team Samoa during the opening ceremony on Sunday. The resident of the Campus of Hope has come a long way.
Despite a successful career; winning Gold Medal during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, and Gold at the recent World Weightlifting Championship in Fiji, the young star is looking at the Pacific Games with a different mentality. She will be lifting in front of her people, and to her, this carries a lot of weight.
But Feagaiga has a strong cheering squad: The US Ambassador Scott Brown, who upon visiting the SVSG office to present donations for the children of hope, has a message for Feagaiga, “This your moment to shine, enjoy it as we will be cheering you on.”
The National Coordinator of the International Labour Organisation in Samoa, Tomasi Peni said that “She’s been so amazing with her journey. I have been working along with this amazing youth in several of our programmes and her story is inspirational.”
And as a donor partner for Samoa Victim Support Group’s child protection work, UNICEF Pacific should be proud of the successful rehabilitation programs for the children at the Campus of Hope, because therein lies the breeding ground for Feagaiga’s talent.
“Enjoy every moment of the Pacific Games Feagaiga, as you have a strong cheering squad behind you all the way.” Silliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Mrs. Taua Kose, a Nofotane Woman Star Earner under the SVSG Nofotane Project will be heading off to Hawaii to participate in the Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Seminarcoordinated by the East-West Centre of Hawaii, from 7 – 20 July 2019.
Mrs. Kose’s application as a participant was amongst the Asia-Pacific women leaders vying for a place in theWomen’s Leadership Seminar. The Seminar focus on Women as Innovators and Entrepreneurs. Out of the hundreds that applied, Mrs. Kose is one of the 17 successful applicants representing 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. She is a home bred woman leader from our grassroot community and we are humbled.
According to Mrs. Kose, “who would have thought 2 years ago that an unemployed nofotane woman like me would be a breadwinner in my family and now, off to Hawaii to learn how to become an effective woman leader? I thank God for His plans for my life.”
Mrs. Kose is one of the youngest unemployed nofotane women at 25 years of age whose life and that of her family changed for the better due to the Nofotane Project. The project was coordinated by Samoa Victim Support Group from 2016 – 2018 with funding support from the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, to address the gender equality issues faced by the nofotane women through economic empowerment.
“We are excited at how far the Nofotane Women have come, and what the future holds for them as empowered women. This is SVSG’s preventative approach to address domestic violence in Samoa. It builds on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of ‘Leaving No One Behind.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Mrs. Kose is one of the many success stories of women empowerment, of regained self-confidence, of family transformation courtesy of the Nofotane Project.
Creating innovative products from trash such as coffee mix sachets, Mrs. Kose is now a breadwinner in her family, selling her colorful purses, ladies handbags, table mats, fruit baskets and earning an approximate income of $400 - $500 per week.
To ensure that other nofotane women enjoyed the benefits of being empowered like herself, Mrs. Kose became one of the trainers of the Nofotane Project, teaching other women how to use their weaving skills to create innovative products from trash. “It not only earns us money, but it also cleans up the environment,” says Mrs. Kose.
Mrs. Kose’s participation to the Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Seminaris fully sponsored by the US Embassy in Apia, that took up the sponsorship role once they have learnt of a nofotane woman being represented in this important Women’s Leaders Seminar.
Today, the US Ambassador Scott Brown congratulated Mrs. Kose on her achievement and wished her well during her learning journey. “Thank you so much to the US Government through Ambassador Scott Brown and the US Embassy Apia Chargé d’Affaires Tony Greubel for supporting the Nofotane Women, through Mrs. Kose’s participation to the Women’s Leadershi Seminar.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
A Samoan girl, who overcame her own personal trauma to share her story to support victims of sexual abuse, has celebrated the biggest moment of her life meeting Prince Harry at the Marlborough House in London.
Leilua Lino was the recipient of special prizes presented by the Duke of Sussex during a garden party celebrating the Commonwealth’s 70th anniversary.
Ms. Lino was among 14 other innovators in international development who received a trophy, certificate and £2,000 (T$6,743).
Held at the Commonwealth headquarters in Marlborough House, London, the awards recognised, celebrated and showcased impactful innovations and forward-looking solutions which help Commonwealth countries develop and advance the Commonwealth charter values.
“Leilua was raped by her own biological father at age 9 and was evacuated under Samoa Victim Support Group’s shelter and care in 2011,” said a statement from the Commonwealth.
“In 2018 she walked tall to court and achieved justice against her father who is now imprisoned for 29 years.
“Following her traumatic experience, she created a Peace Garden in 2017 as her way of healing from her experience of gender based violence. To date the Positive Movement has reached 20,000 children.”
The winners were selected by an independent jury, based on the impact or potential of their innovations to advance one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, congratulated Ms. Lino and the other award winners.
“I hope you are as impressed as I am by the talent that is mobilised and multiplied through Commonwealth connection," she said.
“There are also many other inventors and innovators of all ages in every country and community of the Commonwealth and it is they who drive us on towards a future of health, hope and harmony.”
The competition aims to shine the spotlight on revolutionary ideas that could improve prosperity, protect our planet, promote peace and justice and encourage partnerships in the Commonwealth.
Nitesh Kumar Jangir, from India, co-founded a medical device company designed to prevent deaths in the field of emergency and critical care. Rosette Muhoza, from Rwanda, co-founded a social enterprise that ensures environmental sustainability through recycling plastic waste into construction materials.
A visibly-excited winner, Joanna Ewart-James, said the award signifies that ending modern slavery is a priority for the Commonwealth.
Fellow winner and company C.E.O. Elizabeth Kperun was chosen for her idea to simplify learning for African children and young adults by creating mobile applications and video content which educated them in their native languages.
“This award will give us more visibility. It goes a long way towards helping us achieve our objective of making education more accessible for under-privileged kids in Africa,” she said.
This is the first year of the awards, which were open to all citizens and organisations of the Commonwealth’s 53 countries.
Story from Samoa Observer.
Finding myself as I journeyed
Leilua Lino, London
“Dear Lord, as I go through what has been planned for me today; Help me see clearly your plans for my simple life.”
That was my silent prayer as I woke up in London on this second day of my journey.
Today, I met the other awardees like me. It’s funny because I never thought that you could be awarded for being a survivor. But who am I to question God’s purpose for my life?
There are six of us, and as we were introduced to each other and started sharing our stories, I could see how my life differs from the others. I could also see how I am fitting in well with the others. Oh how grateful I am to God for making all of this happen.
I listened to how they wanted to be successful in life; as for me, this is me. I am just a student at the School of Hope still searching for what life has in store for me; an abused survivor who releases her anger by digging the soil; who finds peace in planting a Garden. All I know is that I want to make a difference in the lives of other children like me.
And as we visited the museum in the afternoon, I wished that my brothers and sisters at the Campus of Hope were here to enjoy this moment together with me. It is a whole new world out here, but I chose to follow my passion and make a difference, one child at a time.
The big day is tomorrow, where the learning throughout my journey to London will be put to the test.
I am slowly seeing God’s plan for me, as I continued my journey with an open mind.