A foreigner who has now called Samoa home, walked into Samoa Victim Support Group’s main office in Apia, to fulfill something God placed in her heart when she moved here in 2014, to lend a helping hand.
She first found out about SVSG through a billboard and she knew she wanted to be a part of the Group. However, according to her, “I thought I was too busy to help and I was not financially stable to be able to help others.” She is none other than Mrs. Sioa Havea Tuionetoa, owner of a new fashion house in town.
Through her story, Sioa shared an Easter Message for us all, and an encouragement for the children survivors of violence and sexual abuse cared for at the Campus of Hope.
We just opened a fashion boutique last November called House 88 Boutique. Located at Amau Mall in Saleufi, we supply formal gowns, cocktail dresses, perfumes, brand handbags and jewellery. We cater mainly for women, however we have a few items for men like colognes and ties. They are gift ideas for women to get for their husbands or boyfriends, so ultimately we supply for women only. It does not mean we have anything against men; I have an amazing father, brothers, husband and a son. My staff, whom are all female also have important male figures in their lives. But we are a team of women and we are all about empowering women. When we heard that majority of the victims in SVSG were women it was only natural for us to reach out to them and there isn't a better time to take action than now.
We are approaching Easter this weekend and it’s a time where we remember the sacrifice that our Savior, Lord Jesus Christ made for us. He was abused and was beaten down to death. But He rose again and conquered all. It’s the perfect time to remind all victims even though you are used, abused and beaten down, you will rise up and overcome this obstacle and achieve great things in life.
To celebrate this Easter the team at House 88 will support SVSG by donating 50% of all sales made from all Cross Styled earrings in store. We have a variety of cross styled earrings to choose from. They are very trendy and sure to last longer than hot cross buns. When I met with Lina (President of SVSG) she asked “Sioa is it going to be OK for your business?” I didn't tell her this at the meeting but one of the things I’ve learned from my father is that no one has ever gone poor from giving. Giving will not jeopardize anything or anyone. Lina, you are truly amazing, your courage, your heart not forgetting your team- working endless hours to support victims. This is the beginning of a life-long relationship with SVSG. House 88 wishes the SVSG and all of Samoa a Happy Happy Easter.
On behalf of the SVSG Patron and the Chair of the Board, I welcome Sioa and her family to be a part of the growing SVSG family. Thank you for your heart, and thank you for reaching out to lend a helping hand.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The Campus of Hope was transformed into a playground for a Fun Day activity coordinated by the Mesepa International Ward (MIW), a Youth Group of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints from American Samoa.
Made up of more than 50 LDS youth from stakes of the Church in American Samoa, the MIW paid a side visit to the children at the Campus of Hope while in Samoa for their annual visit to the Mormon Temple. The Youth Group organized fun games, lunch and snacks for the children as well as a hired bouncy castle to the children’s delight.
The children of hope acknowledged the generosity of the youth group through singing and dancing and a relationship was established there and then.
While it was the MIW’s first time at the Campus, it definitely will not be the last as a new partnership has been formed.
President Aomalo Suesue spoke on behalf of the youth group leaders, to acknowledge the work of SVSG, and the love that emanates from around the Campus of Hope.
SVSG President hosted the youth group and expressed her gratitude to its leaders for coordinating the visit and the fun day activity for the children. “The LDS Church in Samoa plays a crucial role in sustaining the shelter management service that we provide for our children in need, and to have you here today, is testament of the extent of the Church’s reach to supporting the most vulnerable. Thank you so much Bishop Andrew Craig for initiating the visit.” Siliniu Lina Chang
The Samoa Police Women Advisory Network or the SPWAN today continued with its tradition when celebrating the International Women’s Day.
The tradition saw the Network honoring the work of Samoa Victim Support Group year after year, for the children survivors of violence and sexual abused under its care, through in kind donations of various supplies for the children’s daily needs.
During the presentation of the donation, the President of the SPWAN Senior Sargent Efo Moalele commented on the Police’s relationship with SVSG. According to the Senior Sargent, “The Police can’t do its work without the support of SVSG. The partnership has therefore makes our work much easier.”
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang thanked the President of the SPWAN and the Network for recognizing the work of SVSG this time every year.
“SVSG will continue to support the work of the Police through our partnership.” Siliniu Lina Chang
Samoa Victim Support Group honors three groups of women within its support programs today as the world celebrated the International Women’s Day.
First, we have the women and girls survivors of violence; second, we have the rehabilitated women champions of violence and thirdly, we have the volunteer women, who are the backbone of SVSG’s support services.
At the Campus of Hope, the rehabilitated women champions of violence under the SVSG’s Tina Faufautua program, joined the children survivors of violence and the women volunteers, to share their stories in celebrating their rise up.
The testimonies were very powerful, as the rehabilitated women champions of violence saw for themselves the reality of the abuse suffered by the children from within their families, as evidence by the many children residence at the Campus. Seeing is believing, as the women saw for themselves the extend of SVSG’s work which prompted their willingness to help out through a vegetable garden for the children.
To end today’s celebration, the volunteered mothers behind the Tina Faufautua program were honored for their hard work, their commitment and their contribution in rehabilitating women champions of violence. Mrs. Milo Cortz and Sister Schwenke were amongst the facilitators of the program honored today.
Last but not the least, one of SVSG’s eldest village representative, Mrs. Faamomoi Taituuga was visited today in honor of her volunteer work for SVSG. She was humbled but thankful to SVSG for continuing to support our people in need.
“At the end of the day, whatever we have achieved, the glory and honor should return to our Heavenly Father while we humble ourselves as unworthy servants.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Come the 8th March 2018, the world will once again come together to celebrate the International Women’s Day. On the theme ‘Press for Progress’ to accelerate gender parity as a global momentum, Samoa Victim Support Group is positioning itself accordingly through its various programs.
We have the Tina Faufautua Program which provides counseling rehabilitation for women offenders of violence referred from the Family Court. This is SVSG making progress in addressing family violence in Samoa. While statistics on case referrals from the Courts to SVSG in 2017, recorded 33% being women compared to 67% of men, SVSG’s program for both men and women takes holistic approach in addressing family violence. The families, village and church leaders of the reformed offenders attested on the behavioral changes in the lives of these mothers following the counseling rehabilitation.
The press for progress in the economic empowerment of women saw one of the most vulnerable groups of women in Samoa, the unemployed nofotane, being trained on livelihood skills for income generation and self-employment.
From July 2017 to February 2018, Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) has been providing livelihood training workshops for over 2,000 unemployed nofotane women as part of its economic empowerment program with UN Women Fund for Gender Equality.
From these 2,000+ trained nofotane women, 400 have started small businesses and have earned an income from the skills being trained on. Some of the nofotane products such as beauty accessories were showcased recently by the models during the MaugaLui fashion house show. The nofotane women are therefore making positive gains day by day towards gender parity.
At the Campus of Hope, the young girls who are survivors of sexual abuse have made press for progress in their rehabilitation programs, thanks to the Star Foundation and the ‘With and For Girls’ Award won by SVSG in 2016.
“So while the International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific, SVSG is glad that it has contributed to accelerating gender parity in Samoa. Collectively, let's all Press for Progress.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
The nofotane women of Tuasivi, Fogapoa and Iva in Savaii embraced their economic empowerment as a form of livelihood to support their families. This was the general comment from close to 100 nofotane women who attended the 21st livelihood training session held at Fogapoa, at Taulapapa Faasootauloa Patī’s residence
The selfless mentality of these nofotane women supported UN Women’s vision for its economic empowerment program of ‘leaving no one behind’, as the participants juggled their responsibilities in the home, with the livelihood training program, all for the sake of their families.
We had mothers and their daughters training together to master different handicraft skills and produced quality products.
At the same time, their husbands joined to help out their wives with the commercial cooking training.
Then we had high chiefs such as Tofilau Taranaki of Iva, Namulauulu Tuipala of Fogapoa and others, sitting around and offered moral support as village leaders, who have been advocating for support for the project.
It surely was a family oriented training and we look forward to returning for the first assessment of these women’s businesses, to determine their sustainable self employment for their families.
“A nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa. The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President.
The nofotane women who participanted in the 20th livelihood training session for the Nofotane project were spiritually challenged by Reverend Tautua Aulerio of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Vaigaga, to look at their problems not as a way of God punishing them, but as His way of testing their faith.
“If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.” 2 Thessalonians 3: 11
The spiritual message from Rev. Tautua officially opened the training session for the Faleata West constituency where women from Vaigaga, Vaiusu, Vailoa, Tulaele and Vaitele gathered at the CCCS Vaigaga Hall to be economically empowered.
The message was direct and it sets the eagerness and the excitement amongst the nofotane women who were trainined on the four (4) selected skills for the Nofotane project: fabric printing, commercial cooking, handicraft and flower arrangement. There was a mixture of the young and the old, the children and the youth as each chose a skill to be trained on, and worked diligently to master the art of such skill.
With Rev. Tautua’s spiritual message in mind, none of the participants wanted to be left behind. The creativity of some saw the weaving of handbags from coffee mix trash, with different eye catching colour designs. The demand for such bags was huge that clients were lined up for their orders even before the bags were completed.
Out of the 100 nofotane women who participated, 50% registered to start a small business from the skills being trained on with handicraft being the most popular one.
Thank you Rev. Tautua and the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Vaigaga for hosting the training program and for encouraging the nofotane women to work hard for themselves and their families.
“Thank you to the Samoa Victim Support Group for the vision to economically empower women as this in turn benefits the whole village.” This was the acknowledgment from High Chief of Letogo, Tumua To’oto’ofoe Salevaogogo during the last day of the 19th training session for the Nofotane project.
Held at Letogo, the 19th session was well attended by 100 women from Vailele, Fagalii and Letogo who were trained on livelihood skills as the final component of the 2-year project SVSG and the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality are working on.
The pre-training survey found that the nofotane women are gifted with different talents. As such, it was just a matter of them utilizing these talents to generate income for the family. While the popular fabric printing, handicraft, flower arrangement and commercial cooking were the skills included in the training, the nofotane women of the Vaimauga East constituency taught the training team a skill or two on weaving hats, school bags, and others using the odd plastics and trash.
When the training team left Letogo, they have recruited an elderly who has mastered the art of weaving of hats using plastic and ribbons. She is now part of the trainers for the remaing villages to be covered by the Project. At the same time, 43 nofotane women have shown an interest in setting up small businesses of their own. This is one of the goals of the economic empowerment of nofotane women as envisaged by the project, and we are glad to see it becoming a reality.
SVSG’s standing with regards to the project and our culture remains, as according to SVSG President, “a nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa. The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.”
Thank you to the village leaders of Letogo, Fagalii and Vailele for advocating for the project and for participating at the livelihood training to show your support.
The Samoa Consulate of Hawaii Mr. Papaliitele Jack Thompson and the founder of the South Seas Christian Ministries took time out from his Group’s busy schedule while in Samoa to visit the children at the Campus of Hope.
The SVSG Patron Hon. Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau and the Chair of the SVSG Board, Mrs. Georgina Lui hosted the visitors and took them for a tour of the Campus.
Papalii was impressed by the facilities and was especially amazed by SVSG’s work for the unfortunate people of Samoa. According to Papaliitele, “I have heard of SVSG and I have wanted to see for myself the work, and I am amazed. Thank you for all your hard work.”
An opportunity for a partnership with the Samoa Consulate of Hawaii & the South Seas Christian Ministries Partnership is in the pipeline to help out with the work of SVSG.
The SVSG Patron, Hon. Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau thanked the Samoa Consulate of Hawaii for making time to visit the children, and wished them well on their journey home.
“Journey together with the God of Miracles” is the theme for the 2018 Thanksgiving Service for the Samoa Victim Support Group’s extended family of supporters, donors and friends.
To be held at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral at Mulivai on Sunday, 28 January 2018 at 3.30pm, the Thanksgiving Service will bring together the SVSG Family to worship, to pray and to thank our Heavenly Father for His guidance throughout 2017.
As we started on our journey in 2018, we once again seek His wisdom and grace, to lead and guide our journey throughout the year.
All the churches, the government ministries and corporations that we work with, the diplomatic corps that have assisted us, the business community that have walked in faith with us, the partners that we have fostered along the way and the individuals that believe in the Cause, are invited to join us in prayer.
Let us uplift our supporting work for the victims of crimes and the vulnerable people in our community to the Lord because a community that prays together stays together.
To God be the glory always, as we journey together in His grace.
“Folau ma le Atua Fai Vavega”
President of SVSG Samoa