Georgina Lui our Chair for the SVSG Board gave a presentation today to the 2016 Leadership Samoa participants, as one of the guest speakers for the Program's "Social and Youth Development Study Tour.
Georgina was asked to present on "The real life problems facing our youth today."
THE REAL LIFE PROBLEMS FACING OUR YOUTH TODAY By Georgina Lui
Members of Samoa Leadership Group, participants for this year’s emerging leaders programme and to all guests for this day’s talk. It is with pleasure that I greet you on behalf of SVSG, the President and it’s Board. Most of these talks on behalf of our group were previously given by our President Siliniu Lina Chang but due to the fact that she is unavailable due to other commitments, I as Chair of our Board was asked to present on this topic. The topic as you know from the programme is the real problems facing our youth today, a very wide topic as you would most likely appreciate and cannot be covered within the thirty minutes allocated. In the spirit of how SVSG works, I would like to turn around the topic into this: The amazing youth of today and what we can do to help them fully appreciate their potential and their ability to contribute to our future.
Talking about problems can just amount to a full blown discussion on problems, analysing them, stretching them out and spending months and years on discussing and developing papers on problems. This will result in a lot of time, a lot of energy and probably a better appreciation of the problems. But then, what next? After talking about the problems, is someone going to step up and try and do something about the problems or are we just going to sit there and better appreciate the problems and have something to talk about in our cocktails and our constant dinners. So therefore in the spirit of how we work in SVSG, I have decided to talk about the amazing youth of today and how we can help appreciate their strength, their potential and their ability to steer our future.
First of all, the establishment of a shelter for the young in Samoa and the fact that this shelter is constantly full of the young in Samoa requiring shelter and a safe haven. These are our young, abused within their homes and requiring a place of safety, of which they were supposed to be given in their homes. The fact that such a shelter exists within this country is always a shock to many because of the perceptions of so many of Samoa that everyone has family, and there is always someone in the family to look after that young person who is abused within their family. What if the young girl is someone raped by her father a head figure within the family. What if the mother is herself a victim of a horrible cycle of not knowing who to turn to because the loss of a husband will mean no income to support her and her other children. The mother cannot bring herself to believe the young girl because believing the young girl means destroying herself. What if she is also stuck in a cycle of abuse, emotionally incapable to getting help. This is a common story that SVSG comes across and the amazing person in this story is the young girl, who against her family and with no support told herself that if she does not help herself, who is going to do it? So the amazing girl chose to stand up for herself and put a stop to the cycle of abuse on herself. She chose courage to protect herself because no one else will, and tell people what has been happening to her so that someone who is in a position to help can finally help her. She comes to SVSG for help. She tells her story. She has to tell her story again to police. And the the ultimate humiliation, to tell her story again in court, facing her father on the other side, with her mother and her family sitting on the side of her father, supporting her father against her. Putting up with the questions to her, putting up with accusations that she is lying and making up these stories about her father, in a cold room full of strangers. This is the story of our amazing youth and their courage. The question is, what can we as emerging leaders do to help such a girl. The shelter is full of these amazing youth and their courage to choose to take back their lives and live a good life.
Second, is the establishment of a young offenders court in Samoa shows recognition is given to the fact that the youth are a particular vulnerable group within our society, that require special treatment when they are brought through the criminal legal system. SVSG has become involved in this through its youth programmes of which young offenders are referred to for rehabilitation. The focus of the youth program is rehabilitation: To rehabilitate them so that their young lives are not wasted; So that they do not find themselves back into the criminal legal system. This can be very difficult because sometimes rehabilitation is only introduced in this youth’s life after years of criminal activity. In many of these cases, the youth became involved in criminal activity because of pressure from family for money. Many of these youths are not in school, do not have jobs, and do not appear to be searching for a job. Some of you might be thinking of the school fights that have been occurring of late and receiving a lot of media attention, and therefore it is not only with youths that are not in school. This is a correct observation but bear in mind that just because the media has decided to focus on this problem of fights breaking out among students of different schools, does not mean that it makes up the bulk of the matters in the youth court. More like three out of 30 cases in the youth court, with most of them not about school fights. The amazing aspect of these youths who go through the criminal system is their ability to survive. It takes a lot to survive and with some of them, to use that experience to not only survive but succeed in life. This is their amazing potential and it is a challenge to us to help them realise this potential in each one of them. One of the things that we are thankful for and note, are the sports association taking up on this challenge. To give something else to the youth so that they develop self esteem and hopefully a future. These activities are:
Hopefully, it can take some of the children selling on the street off the streets.
This brings us to the third and last matter I wanted to talk about. The children selling on our streets. Many of you would have gone through McDonalds and meet up with these children pushing their products to you. For so many of us, it is very hard to say no to a child on the street. How can we say no? Are we turning away a child from God who just wants some money so that they can have a meal tonight? Or then there is the question because you see the parents or the adults lurking from behind, will this money go to the child or to the lazy and shameless adults who are making these children stand around on the street for them? What do I do?
SVSG had clinics and schools full of volunteers in town for these children on the streets. They were full of life and they loved sports days. It was an opportunity for them to be just kids enjoying themselves. The volunteers enjoyed their sense of humour in school and their zest for life. Because of their experience on the streets, it made them street smart and definitely not shy. However, when the school moved into the campus of hope at Tuanaimato, we no longer were able to provide this service for these children. We had some children who were referred to the shelter by the police because the parents had beaten up the children as they had not brought enough money home that day from their sales on the streets. Some children were delivered to the shelter because people found them sleeping at the market or in the public toilets and there was no adult around. The matrons found these children hard to look after because of the lives they have already led on the streets. But these children continue to survive somehow without the usual support and protection a child gets from their families or their parents. It is amazing how these kids manage to survive on a day to day basis. The strength within them can only make them formidable as adults if they fully realise their potential. They have gone through the worst of life. What more can life throw at them to make them scared. They are fearless in how they tackle life and survive.
I hope that I did not come across too passionate or too much like a preacher in this presentation. You will find that if not for our passion, SVSG would not have survived in Samoa this long. But I hope that if anything, this presentation would have moved someone in this room to stand up and make it count, and make a difference. Because that is what we believe is what true leadership is about.
God be with you in all your plans as emerging leaders and we look forward to hearing your names in the coconut grapevine as someone who has made a difference.
I am a Georgina Lui and I hope that in my small time today with you, I have made a difference.
President of SVSG Samoa