MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FOR SVSG UPOLU REPRESENTATIVES
17 Jan 2023
Written By Guest User, Eyespy Radio.
On Tuesday last week, the newly elected Executive Committee for the SVSG Upolu village representatives gathered at the Princessa Hotel at Motootua for their first meeting this year.
This gathering came about after the election of the Executive Committee comprised of a chairman – Tusa Tupuola Misa from Matautu Falealili, Vice Chairman – Alesana Seuinuutasi from Vailuutai; Secretary – Nifo Moananu from Vaoala and Treasurer – Taatiti Seve Simei of Elise Fou.
Sixteen other members of the Executive Committee were selected from ten constituencies in Upolu. The meeting was chaired by the Vice Chairman, Alesana Seuinuutasi (SVSG Village Rep of Vailuutai) on behalf of the Chairman Tupuola Misa (SVSG Village Rep Matautu Falealili) who away due to illness.
The meeting discussed the Workplan for the village leaders to support the work of SVSG in the community.
Particularly important is the response role played by the SVSG village representatives, in responding to cases of gender-based violence referred to SVSG through the Helpline or referred from the village representatives themselves.
An initiative from the new Executive Committee is for SVSG to carry out awareness programs in each village with a focus on two main areas:
1. Domestic Violence; and 2. SVSG Support Services According to the new Executive Committee, “the more awareness, the better.” “If our people are made aware of violence being a crime and the consequences of committing such crime, the perpetrators will think twice before resulting to violence. If the victims of violence are made awareness of the support services available, they will be encouraged to speak up.”
The meeting of the Executive Committee for the Upolu SVSG Village Representatives will be held after every three months.
SVSG’s EVE PROJECT IN SURVEY UNDERWAY IN FALEFA
Wed, February 1, 2023,
Written by Newsroom, Radio Polynesia
The Samoa Village Health Survey coordinated by the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) as part of a research study into family violence in Samoa has reached the village of Falefa.
The Survey is part of a larger research study led by the University College of London (UCL) and implemented in Samoa by the SVSG, the National University of Samoa (NUS) and the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (SBS).
Over a two-day period in the village of Falefa, the survey reached a total of 180 participants, both men and women.
The Falefa EVE Team members and their Mentor Mrs. Paupusi Chrichton played an important role in ensuring that the survey was well coordinated. Falefa is the fifth out of ten selected villages involved in the research study which started in March 2020 for completion in 2024.
In each of the 10 villages, two EVE Team members (female and male) and a Mentor, have been selected from the SVSG village representatives. Since the project started, the EVE Team have been trained as local researchers to work closely with the lead researcher, Dr. Jenevieve Mannell from the UCL.
According to one of the enumerators, the respondents were happy to be a part of the survey, as they felt they were contributing towards ending violence against women and girls.
The research aims to understand the effectiveness of an intervention designed to address violence against women and girls. A total of 10 villages (8 in Upolu and 2 in Savaii) were selected to be part of the research study’s efforts to develop an indigenous approach to preventing violence against women.
This week, the SVSG Community team, together with the enumerators who were trained to administer the survey, are now continuing onto the big island of Savaii, for the survey administration for the villages of Fagaee and Taga.
The SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledged the support from the village of Falefa not only in hosting the survey administration, but also in participating as respondents.
SVSG-GOVERNMENT MARK PROJECT SUCCESS
24 January 2023
By Gutu Faasau, Samoa Observer
After a successful year of achieving major results through a joint program with the Government of Samoa, the Samoa Victim Support Group official brought to a close their project of eliminating violence against women and girls which was funded by the Government.
They held a special closing ceremony of the project engaging with men and boys to eliminate violence against women and girls and further emphasizing that noble men are not cruel.
The organization has achieved 15 major achievements from last year to early this year. The closing ceremony was the culmination of all their efforts and hard work.
With the help their local partners, community leaders and government support they were able to go above and beyond their initial expected goals and start the New Year with some great news.
Some of their achievements included providing counseling support for survivors and offenders of violence, advocacy programs involving village leaders and young boys, advocacy work with government and community, addressing child vendors and providing educational support.
It has been a long but fruitful period for the organization and the President, Siliniu Lina Chang congratulated their partners for their support in their initiative to end violence against women and girls.
“Thank you for the Leaders who have spoken publicly to advocate for the project. We have made milestone achievements,” she said.
“All these achievements were received under very challenging health and environmental conditions as it had started during the Covid lockdown.
“I can see the solutions all around us here today because S.V.S.G. believes that a nation’s greatest asset is its people, and our people are eager to be a part of that solution.”
An overview of the project was presented on screen through a documentary followed by a presentation of Village Declarations made by seven villages. There was also a formal Presentation of Appreciation to five schools and to five youth groups as a small token of appreciation.
The organization will continue to work side by side with these communities to ensure the safety of all victims of abuse and a safe haven for children and women.
FAGAEE IS FIRST VILLAGE IN SAVAII TO UNDERTAKE SURVEY
08 February 2023
Fagaee is one of the smallest villages involved in a research project implemented by the Samoa Victim Support Group and the University College of London and it has become the first village in Savaii to administer the Samoa Village Health Survey.
A total of 80 participants completed the survey administered by trained enumerators referred from the Samoa Bureau of Statistics.
The Survey is part of a larger research study led by the University College of London (UCL) and implemented in Samoa by the SVSG, the National University of Samoa (NUS) and the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (SBS). It is a four-year project that started in March 2020.
Ethical guidelines set by the National University of Samoa on the survey administration have been followed through since the survey component of the research study have been carried out. The guidelines ensured the safety of the respondents and the confidentiality of information gathered from the survey.
In response to the questions from the SVSG media team, Sosoli Sopo Savelio Vaa, one of the enumerators for the survey stated that she has witnessed a huge support from the village of Fagaee towards the research study, as evident by the majority of the respondents being elderlies.
“They were such eager participants who valued their involvement in the survey for its contribution to addressing violence against women in Samoa. They were even more excited to complete the survey themselves on tablets.”
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang thanked the village council of Fagaee, in particular, the EVE Team members and mentor, Polataivao Pouvale, for a well-coordinated survey administration.
“Thank you also to one of SVSG’s longest serving village representative Tuipoloa Pasene, the village council and the women’s committee of Avao for supporting the survey administration at Fagaee, by hosting the enumerators and the SVSG Team for two nights. We are encouraged by the coming together of our SVSG Aiga to support the delivering of ongoing community programs, to address violence against women and girls.”
TOE AUMAI I SAMOA LE TEINEITIITI NA VAETAMA, ASIASI ILE NOFOAGA NA NOFO PUIPUIA AI
Fepuari 6, 2023
Written by Radio Samoa
I le vaetama ai e se ulugalii Amerika o se teineititi mai Samoa sa tausia i le nofoaga o le faalapotopotoga o le Toomaga mo ē Puapuagatia ona o aafiaga tau sauaga.
O le fitu tausaga o nofo i Amerika ma ona matua na vaetamaina toe siitia atu i Niu Sila ma nonofo ai i le taimi nei, o se fiafiaga tele i le alii o Justin Kimmons Gilbert ma lona toalua le toe malaga mai i Samoa ma lo la alo teine na la vaetamaina faaletulafono e toe asiasi i le nofoaga na tausia ai, aemaise o le toe malaga mai e toe vaai lo la alo teine i le atunuu moni na fanau ma ola a’e ai a o itiiti.
Ua faailoa e le Pelesetene o le Toomaga, o le ulugalii Amerika sa galulue i Samoa i le ofisa o lea Malo, ma o le asiasi pea i le nofoaga a o iai i Samoa i ni tausaga ua tuanai sa o la feiloai ai ma le teineititi, ma tonu ai o le a la vaetamaina ina ua mae’a ona feiloai ma le tina o le teineititi ma aumai ai le ioega.
O le toe malaga mai ai i Samoa o le ulugalii ma lo la afafine ua mafai ai foi ona toe vaai le teineititi i tu ma aga faasamoa ia teu mau pea ia te ia, o lona faasinomaga tāua lea i lona tupuaga.
VAIEE VILLAGE HEALTH SURVEY REACHES VAIEE
26 January 2023
Written by Alexander Rheeney, Samoa Observer
Over 100 men and women in Vaie’e Safata participated in the Samoa village health survey that was conducted over a two-day period as part of an international research study into violence prevention.
The Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), in a media release issued on Thursday, said 109 men and women took part in a survey that is part of The EVE Project (Evidence for Violence prevention in the Extreme). The project is part of a research study led by the University College London and is implemented in Samoa by the SVSG, the National University of Samoa (NUS) and the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (SBS).
As part of the international study, the survey looks at understanding the effectiveness of an intervention designed to address violence against women and girls.
According to the enumerators tasked to conduct the survey, the village of Vaie’e were eager participants. They gathered at the allocated venue on time, were all dressed up, and were ready to take part in the survey component of the research study, which looks at developing indigenous approaches to preventing violence against women.
The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Jenevieve Mannell, expressed her gratitude to the village leaders for their support as well as the Vaie’e The EVE Project team members who are SVSG village representatives, for such a well coordinated survey.
The SVSG President, Siliniu Lina Chang said in the statement that representatives from her non-profit organisation, were trained as local researchers to assist the study.
“SVSG have selected 20 village representatives from 10 villages to develop an approach for researching violence against women that works within the Fa’a Samoa (‘the Samoan way’),” Siliniu said.
“Since the research started, the SVSG village representatives have been trained as local researchers to assist with the study, and we are so proud of their commitment to date.”
The EVE Project is a research study conducted in partnership with local villages to develop an indigenous approach to preventing violence against women and is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and based at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom.
The EVE Project, referred to locally as E Le Sauā le Alofa (Love Shouldn’t Hurt), is a four-year research study that started in March 2020.
SVSVG JUNIORS FESTIVAL AIMS TO REVIVE THE CULTRE OF RESPECT TO ELIMINATE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
December 22, 2022
Written by Samoa Global News
However, Samoan society has been undergoing changes. These changes have created another reality that legitimizes violence as traditional values give-way.
The culture of violence and abuse of girls, however, reflects a change built on erosion of traditional value. Samoan traditions include both male and female views.
The Youth Festival is an attempt to bring these values to life as living traditions, while empowering survivors of violence to take charge of their lives.
It brings together close to 100 church youth groups partners of the SVSG Juniors from Upolu, Savaii and Manono-tai, in a united front to eliminate violence.
Selected youth groups under the SVSG Junior’s partnership, including the CCCS Youth Fagalii, the SDA Youth Faleatiu, the Methodist Youth of Fusi Safata will be performing on the festival theme.
Special guest performance by the Samoa Outreach Community Centre featuring Tenelle Christine Luafalemana should add to the youth’s voices to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The main event is a Drama performed by members of the SVSG Juniors, based on a Comic Book story they had drawn up titled:
The Power of the Last Words – O le Mana o Upu Taumavae.
SVSG CONTINUE WORKSHOPS FOR PARENTS AND YOUTH TO HELP COMBAT VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN
May 6, 2022
Written by Samoa Global News
Samoa Victim Support Group was at Solosolo during the week to resume its community prevention program to address violence against children, put on hold due to the covid lockdowns.
30 parents attended the session themed ‘Understanding how Children Think and Feel’; while 20 youth attended a session on ‘Alcohol, Drugs, and Peer Pressure’ specially designed for adolescents.
Solosolo is one of the seven targeted communities taking part in a prevention program implemented by SVSG in partnership with UNICEF Pacific.
Parents in Solosolo village were supported to better understand their responsibilities to nurture and guide their children as they pass through different development stages.
“The aim of the program is to enable parents in these communities to gain a better understanding of violence against children and to apply effective parenting strategies,” said SVSG Chair Ms. Georgina Lui.
The parents’ sessions are ‘Module 4’ of the programmed, focused on parents’ ability to understand how their children think and feel.
“From an unborn child to a newborn baby all the way up to 18 years of age. Parents are taken through how the needs of a child change, and so does the role of parents,” said Ms. Lui.
Tears were shed as parents shared emotional stories of their various trials and triumphs, which attest to their improved parenting knowledge, attitude and practice.
In an interview with Lemafa Tilo Leota, who is the chief orator of Solosolo, he expressed his gratitude towards the initiative. “The program reminds us of the importance of having the connection between parents and children to avoid violence in families, villages and churches.” Lemafa thanked SVSG for rolling out the seminars, especially the positive messages for communities.
The adolescents’ session ran parallel, with a focus on how to protect.
“Not only did they learn about the dangers of drugs and peer pressure; they were also given the opportunity to explore violence prevention strategies through group activities and role playing. Their interest in the topic fueled the discussions and contributed to the success of the seminar,” said the SVSG Chair.
SVSG will continue to carry out the prevention program in five other communities with the aim to mainstream positive discipline parenting and equip adolescents with social and emotional capacities as they grow into young adults.
SVSG acknowledges the support of UNICEF Pacific through its partnership, to build the capacity of SVSG to facilitate the community prevention programs in the selected village communities.
“Thank you also to the Solosolo Women’s Committee for hosting the Program,” concluded Ms Georgina Lui.
YOTUH FESTIVAL PROMOTES NON-VIOLENCE
23 December 2022
Written by Gutu Faasau, Samoa Observer
The CCCS Fagalii Youth performing their skit to end violence against women and girls. (Photo: Supplied)
As the festivities continue, the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) youth celebrated the festive season with a youth festival based on the theme of reviving the culture of respect for women and girls.
The festival was also held to raise the level of awareness raised amongst the youth groups who participated in the festival. The festival took place at the EFKS hall at Sogi on Tuesday this week, with village representatives, families and friends watching the items prepared by the different groups.
The Minister of Finance, Mulipola Anarosa Ale-Molio’o emphasized the importance of youth and the critical role they can play in society to revive the cultural aspects of men respecting women and girls in address violence.
The initiative by the S.V.S.G. youth group strives to end violence against women through youth engagement as well as showcasing their talent and creativity in their performances.
Some of the youth who participated in the festival included the CCCS Youth Fagalii, the SDA Youth Faleatiu, the Methodist Youth Fusi Safata and the Samoa Outreach Community Centre. The youth festival is part of the activities funded by the Samoa Government as part of a project with the S.V.S.G. to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The CCCS Fagalii youth performed a skit telling the story of domestic violence and alcohol, which featured the story of a drunk man beating his wife in front of their children. Their items delivered a message to men and boys to stop violence of any form against women and girls.
WORKSHOP HELD ON ANTI-VIOLENCE PROGRAMS
17 June 2022
Written by Gutu Faasau, Samoa Observer
Samoa Victim Support Group on Thursday hosted a workshop in partnership with UNESCO and community partners focusing on lessons learnt through Spotlight Initiative programs delivered in communities.
The program on Thursday, which revolved around the theme “My Village My Pride”, is based on the hopes of ending violence against women (VAWG) and spreading awareness on the issue. It was held at the Taumeasina Island Resort.
Ellen Lekka, a culture program specialist with the UNESCO, worked together with the SVSG staff and local communities within the framework of the Spotlight Initiative. The Spotlight Initiative is funded by an EU and UN Joint Project which also includes other UN agencies.
This program is based on UNESCO’s contribution to the joint program using cultural education and communication to address gender-based violence within Samoa.
For this initiative, they have tried to formulate a more innovative approach on delivering their messages to change mindsets and deeply rooted perceptions on gender norms and relations.
By using performing arts, they would be able to capture the interest of the community in tackling issues that are hard to openly talk about in the community.
UNESCO together with the SVSG – who have a well-functioning network in the villages in Samoa – identified eight villages to deliver this program to. Various types of performing arts that included music, dance and oration based on domestic violence and intimate partner violence was used to deliver their message to the communities.
Ms. Ellen recalled the village of Satalo, Falealili where the Spotlight Initiative was launched, and made reference to what she described as an impressive turnout and participation of children, women, youth and men who were all so engaged and committed to the program.
“This was a way of creating a space for community dialogue where sensitive issues related to gender-based violence, domestic violence and Intimate partner violence, which are hard to address verbally can be delivered through performing arts creating a softer approach on these types of issues,” she said.
Emphasizing that performing arts is a more effective approach as people were more open, receptive and engaged, Ms Ellen said this was what they had hoped for as it was different in that people would be able to receive what would slowly and gradually change their perceptions and behaviour.
She added that this was in respect to cultural context and apply methods that are relevant to the country which will develop better gender relations and ultimately end violence against women and girls.
MEN OF GAGAIFOLEVAO JOIN CAMPAIGN TO END VIOLENCE
13 August 2022
By Gutu Faasau, Samoa Observer
The untitled men of Gagaifolevao village have joined the Samoa Victim Support Group’s (SVSG) ‘Men against Violence’ campaign.
The campaign is designed to eliminate violence against women and girls in Samoa, with the mean given tools to channel their energy into positive village developments to care for their loved ones.
The President of SVSG, Siliniu Lina Chang, presented rolls of chain links for vegetable gardens, weed eaters for village beautification projects and maintenance, and lastly a bingo machine with its accessories to assist in fundraising activities.
On behalf of the village, Su’a Faiaoga Tanielu acknowledged the practicality of the strategy to eliminate violence against women through the economic empowerment of not just the women, but also men.
“Gagaifolevao strongly supports the rationale behind teaching the men how to fish for today and tomorrow, rather than giving them a fish just for today. And we are grateful to SVSG to the recognition extended to the untitled men of Gagaifolevao, to step up and contribute towards our government’s efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls,” he said.
Gagaifolevao is one of the ten villages in which SVSG is working with to address violence through supporting the income generating activities of the men’s groups. Seven other villages are also participating in addressing these issues where Community Guides are drawn up by the village councils for the general village’s compliance.
Several colleges are also participating in delivering key messages on ending violence against women and girls, in accelerating progress being made on educating young boys to break the cycle of violence.
JAPAN HANDS OVER NEW SHELTER FACILITIES TO SAMOA VICTIM SUPPORT GROUP
June 3, 2021
Written by Funefe’ai Dikaiosune Atoa Tamaalii, (EMBASSY OF JAPAN)
The Government of Japan once again reaffirmed its commitment to uphold the basic concept of “human security” through its Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Projects (GGP) programme.
Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) officially completed two new shelters through a handover ceremony that was held earlier today (3 June 2021) at the Campus of Hope, Tuanaimato. The ceremony was attended by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Samoa, District Court Judge, Her Honour Talasa Atoa-Saaga, members of the diplomatic corps, partners and staff of SVSG.
SVSG received a grant of up to USD$193,400 (approximately SAT 477,000) in last December for a project for construction of two new shelters for victims of abuse. The shelter for domestic violence victims is named Sakura House which means cherry blossom in Japanese while the shelter for girls is named Asahi House, which means sunrise or morning sun.
Japan’s GGP aims to support small-scale projects directly benefitting the grass-roots level as well as contributing to the socio-economic development of the Independent State of Samoa.
As part of the international concerted efforts, Japan is pleased to support an organization that provides integrated, personalized and professional services to the survivors and victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in Samoa.
It is hope that the new shelters will provide strength, hope, healing and new beginnings for the lives of the victims and to ensure their protection under the services of the SVSG.
The Government of Japan welcomes the opportunities to further work in partnership with non-governmental organization with a view to advancing human security and community development projects at grass-roots level.
SSAB SUPPORTS SVSG NOFOTANE GROUP TO EMPOWER WOMEN
September 4, 2020
SSAB (Samoa Stationery and Book Limited) continues its stance to promote awareness on ending violence against women and children through the launch of a new partnership with the SVSG Nofotane group that focuses on the economic empowerment of women.
Launched last month, the partnership supports and sustains developing businesses for women in the SVSG Nofotane Group through sales of $2,000.00 tala.
SSAB’s support for the initiative to end violence in Samoa has been ongoing with staff wearing orange to work on the 25th day of every month.
“This has been an ongoing awareness activity by the company since the launching of the EVAWG campaign by UN Women in collaboration with the Government of Samoa and Australia three years ago”, says SSAB’s marketing and communications manager, Asomua Anastasia Stanley.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang and Asomua Anastasia Stanley.
This newly formed partnership with Nofotane has been driven by the passion of SSAB CEO, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai.
“Tofilau wanted to do more to empower women and families, and that has led to this partnership with SVSG Nofotane group”.
Through the partnership with SVSG, SSAB has been able to provide product and marketing advice to over 10 women from the Nofotane Group.
“We have helped them on promoting and selling an assortment of handmade Nofotane products ranging from; earrings, ie lavalava (sarongs), Areta baskets, jewelry, fala masi (woven mats) to name a few,” said Asomua.
“Weve been doing it since the 25th of July, and SSAB receives no profit from sales. All proceeds go to SVSG Nofotane Group”.
On behalf of SSAB, Marketing Manager Asomua Asia Stanley presented a cheque of $2,000 tala to SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang yesterday at the SVSG headquarters.
According to SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, SSAB is the first company to partner with SVSG in selling and promoting Nofotane products.
“SSAB is the first company to directly approach us wanting to help these small local businesses of women in the Nofotane Group, “ Siliniu said.
Since July to August SSAB has made total sales of $2,000 tala from selling hand-made products.
“We would like to thank Tofilau for her charitable heart, to help empower so many women from Nofotane Group. These women have expressed their sincere gratitude numerous times, in earning an income to support their families with the help of SSAB,”
“SSAB does not receive a profit or anything from this partnership. However, we all know SSAB’s work and good hearts does not go unnoticed by the Lord. May His favor and blessings be upon SSAB continuously. Faafetai, faafetai tele lava Tofilau,” said the SVSG President.
The President of SVSG and the President/CEO of SSAB wish to acknowledge the support from the people of Samoa that came to SSAB Megastore and buy SVSG Nofotane products.
Furthermore SSAB has confirmed continuing its partnership with SVSG Nofotane Group and urges the support from the community to come and buy SVSG Nofotane products sold at SSAB Megastore.
VOLUNTEERS BECOME PART OF S.V.S.G FAMILY
14 February 2023
By Gutu Faasau •
A retired couple from Australia, who were volunteering for the Samoa Victim Support Group over the last five months, are the perfect examples of what it means to losing oneself in the service of others.
According to the local not-for-profit organization based at Tuanaimato, the couple are part of their growing family. Larry and Amanda Murphy are self-funded retirees who have been volunteering in Samoa on and off since 2015.
Last October, the couple reached out to S.V.S.G. with a request to allow them an opportunity to help out as volunteers. The request was approved and since then, S.V.S.G. have gained one of its most thoughtful and helpful family members.
Amanda is a qualified accountant (CPA Australia) and has worked in local government as well as other sectors in Australia. She was eager to help out with the finance and administration work of the S.V.S.G.
According to the S.V.S.G. Financial Controller, Tafatoa Sam Fruen, he said it was an honour working with the couple as the two were farewelled.
“It’s a blessing working with you guys. I am forever grateful for the huge help that you have provided for our finance team. You are part of the family,” he said.
Upon returning to Australia, Larry and Amanda continued to maintained contact and acknowledged the work of S.V.S.G. in particular being part of the S.V.S.G. family.
“We felt privileged and honoured to be able to help such a worthy organisation, especially experiencing the wonderful camaraderie and dedication to the cause that everyone at S.V.S.G. has,” said the Murphys.
“After the many times we’ve been to Samoa, including long stays, it really gave us a sense of purpose to be there. Lina, you really struck a chord with both of us, that we are part of the S.V.S.G. family.”
The S.V.S.G. said they appreciated the commitment from such a joyful couple, during their volunteer time in Samoa.
The S.V.S.G. President Siliniu Lina Chang farewelled and paid tribute to the departing Australian couple.
“Thank you so much Larry and Amanda for your sincerity to help out S.V.S.G. You came with a purpose, and we are honored to be able to give you that sense of purpose. As family, we will see you again.”
Providing targeted help and support services when it mattered most: SVSG.
OCTOBER 2, 2022
At the start of the nation-wide lockdowns in 2020, *Rita reached out to the Samoa Victim’s Support Group (SVSG) for help, through their free help lines, funded by the Spotlight Initiative (SI). “Don’t be afraid to take that step to seek help. You will take courage when you look into the eyes of your children” – Rita*, SVSG client and violence survivor. Her husband had hit her, and she feared for her life and that of her children. SVSG were able to evacuate her during the first national lockdown, and she stayed at the Sakura House – SVSG’s shelter for victims of domestic violence for eight weeks. Rita’s story was first featured in Spotlight’s newsletter in 2020.
“We are grateful for the timely partnership between SVSG and UNDP through the Spotlight Initiative,” said Siliniu Lina Chang, President of SVSG. “It allowed a virtual connection to be widely established in promoting the services of the 24/7 helpline, online counselling and access to help via social platforms. The message was loud and clear: help is not on shut down.”
During the time Rita was with SVSG, she underwent counselling support. At the same time, her husband attended an anger management programme for perpetrators of violence. In the end, the couple managed to work out their differences and were reunited. Currently, the couple are providing staple food supply for the children at SVSG. During her time at the shelter, Rita saw that those were some of the pressing needs – taro, bananas, and other staples – and together with her husband, they are now donating these to the shelter.
“It’s also a good way for us to monitor them. The couple are now working together, and they’ve patched things up. Their problems started when the husband was laid off from work, and it was a distressing time. They now have their own plantation, and they are now selling to provide for themselves as this has now become an income-generation activity for them, and they are also able to share with the children the excess of those supplies,” said Ms. Pepe Tevaga, SVSG’s Program Manager.
The helpline enabled the community to reach out to SVSG for help during the lockdown, a period which saw an increase in the risk of violence, abuse, and domestic violence, as both the parents and children were home together. Through the helpline, a total of over 3,000 women, men and children were able to reach out in times of distress from being unemployed and other factors, and SVSG was able to provide them with counselling. This support by the Spotlight Initiative through UNDP enabled the SVSG staff to be able to provide this critical service and reach out to the survivors of gender-based violence on time.
“The assistance we received from the Spotlight Initiative was different in the sense that it really put the spotlight on the support services needed at the time, especially in light of COVID and the lockdown in 2020. The Spotlight Initiative enabled SVSG to become a frontline service provider through its virtual connection through the helpline, Facebook, and email. Instead of us being there out there in the community, we were able to work from home or from our office, connecting to the survivors through the virtual connection that was made possible through SI,” said Ms. Tevaga.
These are some of the many ‘success stories’ to have come out of SVSG, especially in relation to the Spotlight Initiative via UNDP’s assistance to the organization, at the height of the COVID pandemic in Samoa.
“There were a lot of success stories throughout this time even though it was a challenging time. There were also a lot of lessons learnt,” said Ms. Tevaga.
The SVSG partnership with the Spotlight Initiative also led to the formation of SVSG’s Domestic Violence Policy, which provides overall direction for its domestic violence work. It also provides practical guidelines on how to use the Sakura House, the domestic violence shelter for women. The policy also ensures that SVSG complies with its vision and mission concerning survivors of violence.
Another notable achievement to come from the SVSG-SI partnership, is the support to the nofotane project with women who are married and are living with their husband’s family, during the COVID state of emergency lockdown. Through SI and the UNDP Covid Response Programme, funding assistance enabled the women to sew reusable cloth masks from the confines and the safety of their own homes, and through this, they were encouraged to earn.
“The SI helped boost the self-esteem of nofotane women who were in business, especially at the time of lockdowns. These women became the breadwinners for their families,” said Ms. Tevaga.
Ms. Tevaga also said the SI provided an enabling environment during COVID which encouraged the women survivors of violence to become the breadwinners. This was at a time when their husbands, who were usually the main income earners, were laid off from work due to border closure and lockdowns. The SI provided an enabling environment by putting the spotlight on what was needed at the time. The Nofotane project is funded by the European Union through the Government of Samoa’s Civil Society Support Programme, in partnership with SVSG. With a focus on the promotion of gender equality through economic development, the ‘Nofotane’ launched in August last year their digital or online market, which SI was invited to participate in.
“The need at this stage is to continue the momentum. We already have response services through helplines and case management, we also have early intervention through the Positive Discipline Parenting and Adolescent Development programmes, as well as community prevention through engaging the community. The need at this stage is to continue being accessible; for our services to be accessible; to continue being relevant with the services we provide and continue to engage the community because through engaging the communities, this ensures sustainability. It’s a matter of continuing the momentum and getting the community to engage more,” said Ms. Tevaga.
To respond to the spike in violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Initiative has programmed US$51,000 to support SVSG as a frontline civil society organization. It is essential that gender-based violence support services remain available and accessible to women, children and at-risk groups at all times, including during the country’s state of emergency.
The Spotlight Initiative has certainly lived up to its name, by focusing attention on the most pertinent issues at hand.
By: Laufaleaina Lesa and Louisa Apelu
*Rita – not her real name, her story being reprinted below.
“Don’t be afraid to take that step to seek help, you will take courage when you look into the eyes of your children.” Rita a survivor of violence and a SVSG client.
“Today will be different, I just know it.” These were the words Rita* uttered as she prepared to leave Campus of Hope, the domestic violence shelter that had been her sanctuary for the past three months. After suffering physical and emotional abuse throughout her 13-year marriage, the 51-year-old mother of nine had sought refuge at Campus of Hope as a last resort.
The violence had come to a head one night during the COVID-19 lockdown, when Rita’s husband began swearing at her and threatened to beat her. Rita fled next door to her sister-in-law’s house, where her niece told her about ads she’d seen on social media for Spotlight Initiative-supported helplines for women experiencing violence. Samoa Victims Support Group (SVSG), who run the help line, immediately responded to Rita’s call and offered her a space at SVSG’s Campus of Hope, where she also received counselling. Rita’s husband was taken into police custody and SVSG filed a protection order on Rita’s behalf, as well as supporting her through the legal process.
“I am so glad I sought refuge with SVSG when I did,” says Rita. “They not only protected me, they also facilitated counselling for my husband and me which has led to the change that I have seen in him and in our relationship.”
During her time at the shelter, Rita struggled with being separated from her children but remained determined to create a better future for herself and her family. She says she’d encourage other women experiencing violence to do the same.
After leaving Campus of Hope, Rita and her children initially moved in with Rita’s family while her husband underwent counselling for anger management and alcohol addiction through the SVSG Men Against Violence Programme. His counselling continues, and he is sometimes accompanied to sessions by Rita. Rita says her speaking out motivated him to get help and has made him a better husband and father. Given the positive shift, Rita has moved back in with him though she continues to check in regularly with SVSG.
Rita often returns to the shelter, but these days it’s for a very different reason – she brings baskets of coconuts from her family plantation to help feed the women and children at Campus of Hope. It’s her way of giving back to those who helped her during her darkest moments.
“Promoting the services of the 24/7 helpline, online counselling and access to help via social platforms sent a message loud and clear: help is not on shut down” – Siliniu Lina Chang, President of SVSG
Spotlight Initiative in Samoa. Four million US dollars have been allocated through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls in Samoa. This includes support to develop legislation and policies to eliminate violence against women, and to strengthen national and sub-national institutions in responding to the needs of victims and survivors.
During the first six weeks of lockdown, SVSG responded to 415 calls through the helpline, with 46 distress calls resulting in police intervention to stop domestic violence in the home. Seventeen cases went to the courts for interim protection orders, and 42 cases of violence against women and children resulted in care from the SVSG shelter.
Making a huge difference
28 September 2017
By Aruna Lolani
A new classroom project to extend the school facilities for the School of Hope was officially opened at the Campus of Hope, Tuana’imato, yesterday.
The project was initiated by students from Helensvale State High School five years ago and had gathered support from four other high schools in Queensland Australia who fundraised for this project.
The additional schools included Upper Coomera State College, Coombabah State High School, Pacific Pines State High School and Pimpama State Secondary College.
S.V.S.G. Founding Member, Mauga Precious Chang, congratulated everyone involved in making the project a success.
“Five years ago, some students from Helensvale in the Gold Coast Community stood up and make their lives count.
They decided to initiate a project to build a classroom in this country. Along the way, four other schools joined Helensvale in this fundraising and along the way when they needed help they asked the Rotary Club.”
Mauga acknowledged Rotary, the students and everyone else who has made this possible.
Rotary Club District Governor, Darrel Brown said all the work they have done is according to their theme: Making a difference.
“And today is our pleasure to be here with the Rotary Club Surfers Sunrise in the House Of Hope classroom but this time; we are making a difference with the Northern Collegiate from the Gold Coast; we have three schools represented here today: Helensvale State High School, Upper Coomera State College and Coombabah State High School.
“They have raised something like $50,000 dollars to get the air fare and accommodation to come over here plus assistance to the school and with all the fundraising and so forth; we spent over 500 hours doing that process.
“With assistance of the Rotary Club in Apia and through the Rotary Australia world community service which we called Rocks, this building has happened.”
“It’s not the building that’s important. It’s the education and what will happen in this building because without education, we can’t progress the world and we believe Rotary is making a difference.”
Last but not least; the Student leadership coordinator from Helensvale State High School Nahdia Graham also added “We are so proud of the achievements of our students within the Northern Collegiate Programme.
For the past five years, the students have run many fundraising and campaigning efforts and as a result as Darryl previously mentioned, successfully raised an excessive $50,000 for this classroom project: for the equipments and supplies to build and decorate the classroom.
“Meeting the students and hearing their stories really solidifies it for us, the reason behind this expedition. This trip will be a memory and experience that will forever remain in our hearts.”
Innovation award for S.V.S.G.
03 October 2017
The Samoa Victim Support Group has been awarded the Samoa Public Service Innovation & Excellence Team Award for ‘Most Effective Collaborative Partnership’, during the celebration of the Public Service Day.
The award was in recognition of S.V.S.G’s work with the Courts, nominated by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.
S.V.S.G. President Siliniu Lina Chang accepted the award on behalf of the Group.
S.V.S.G’s work with the Court dates back 12 years ago when the Group was just set up. This was specifically in supporting children survivors of sexual abuse standing trial against their own family members. This support for victims of sexual abuse continues to date, and is one of the focused area for S.V.S.G’s support services, as highlighted by the children’s shelter facilities, the Campus of Hope.
With the setting up of the Family and Youth Courts in 2013, S.V.S.G’s work with the Ministry of Justice extended to include rehabilitation programs for the offenders of violence through S.V.S.G’s Advocacy Program, offering anger management, alcohol abuse and other counseling support.
Support services for the victims and the offenders continued to be self-funded by S.V.S.G. through donations.
The Innovation and Excellence Team Award received today is therefore an achievement for the Group, as it struggles to source out secured funding for its Advocacy Program for the Courts.
In receiving the award, S.V.S.G. President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges the support from the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Papali’i John Taimalelagi Afelé as highlighted by the Ministry’s nomination of S.V.S.G. for the award.
“Thank you so much Papalii and staff for recognizing the Ministry’s partnership with S.V.S.G. as effective and collaborative in achieving justice. S.V.S.G. will continue being the voice of the voiceless and we look forward to continue working in partnership with the Ministry,” said Siliniu.
Campus of Hope residents embrace Christmas
24 December 2020
By Adel Fruean
As Samoa prepares to mark Christmas Day, children at the Samoa Victim Support Group’s Campus of Hope got a taste of the festive season through dance, song, food and gifts.
The campus caters for 80-plus victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, who are mostly children and women.
The pre-Christmas celebrations were held at the campus and were spearheaded by the S.V.S.G. Juniors, which is the group’s youth branch. Reverend Su’a Moananu led the celebrations with a prayer and a sermon. Some of the entertainment included local artists Lagi and Della Jensen, Mareko Amitai as well as Star Search winners Tagiilima Fiti and Eliziuritabeth Fanueli. There were also dance and singing performances by the Methodist Church at Tuana’i.
President of the S.V.S.G. Juniors, Carmenita Salaese, said that the event is special because youth alliances united to make it a success.
“Thank you for accepting our invitation because this is in consideration for our children spending Christmas on campus, we felt that it is only proper to celebrate with them,” he said.
She added that the purpose of the celebration is to show love and spread joy to the children at the campus.
Mrs. Salaese also told the youth to become ambassadors of peace which will help make a change in the futures of the children at the shelter.
A member of the S.V.S.G. Juniors executive, Mane Su’a, thanked the sponsors Vodafone, Samoa Commercial Bank, Chan Mow, Ah Liki Wholesale, Bank of the South Pacific, Urban Sound and Happy Kids for their support and contribution towards the children’s events within the Campus.
S.V.S.G. President Siliniu Lina Chang thanked the S.V.S.G. Juniors for their preparations and added that since the children or victims are undergoing court cases they are kept in the shelter for protection.
“The joy and laughter shown on the children’s faces is priceless because they have been through so much hurt, pain and loss of hope,” she said. “This celebration will help boost their morale and bring happiness within their hearts.”
JOURNEYING SAFER INTO 2023
4 Jan 2023
Written By Guest User
As 2022 comes to an end, Samoa Victim Support Group is appeling to our community to be extracautious as we journey into 2023.
This is because 2022 is marked by the community transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic and thesocio-economic challenges it has imposed on our people as individuals, and on our country as acollective.
For SVSG and its response to gender based violence services, the horrendous abuse of the mostvulnerable, usually women and children, continues. The innonect lives lost during the Christmasperiod is evidence of just how deadly violence has become, and has killed.
The number of calls to the SVSG Helpline during the Christmas holidays however, confirms that our people are now more aware of the support services available, when in need of help. Out of the 65 calls received on both the Digicel Samoa and the Vodafone Samoa Helplines, 20 of these calls were gender based violence cases, with the victims ranging from a 1 year old child being neglected at home while the parents go to work; to an attempted suicide father who has been having marital problems with his wife; to sexually abused girls within their own homes.
Yes Samoa, the reality of the pandemic that is affecting our beautiful Samoa is not so much the COVID-19 pandemic, but violence. As a child safe organization and a human rights defender, SVSG is hopeful that the goodness within all of us, supercedes the temptation to cause harm. That our Christian beliefs and traditional values both provided us with a balance necessary to look out for each other’s safety.
“SVSG takes this opportunity to thanked the Government of Samoa, development partners, churches, village communities families and friends, for supporting SVSG’s transformative journey this year.”
“As a family, we have a collective responsibility to look out for each other’s safety into the new year, especially our children. From our beautiful children at the Campus of Hope, we wish you a safer new year Samoa, and God bless.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
SAMOA VICTIM SUPPORT GROUP JOINS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATION
9 Mar 2023
Written By Guest User
Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) had joined the global commemoration celebration of the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 today.
On the theme: Embrace Equity, the global campaign seeks to draw attention to the fact that equalopportunities are not enough to achieve true inclusion and belonging. As such, there is a call to action, to embrace equity in all its form.
Today, SVSG had captured some of the beneficiaries and partners to its support services, as they strike the IWD #EmbraceEquity pose to show solidarity.
A call from the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang as she embraces the girl survivors of violence, sums up SVSG’s action for this year’s celebration. “As a family, let us #EmbraceEquity in all its form, as equal opportunities are not enough to achieve true inclusion.
The rehabilitative women offenders of violence, looking towards the horizon as they #EmbraceEquity with the Women Counsellors who have helped them with their recovery journey.
The inclusion of people with disabilities not only as the beneficiaries of SVSG’s support services but also SVSG personnel, is how we truly #EmbraceEquity
The self-employed nofotane women, who have been empowered to embrace the work of their hands are also acknowledged today with pride. This is becauses the nofotane women survivors of violence’s journey is similar to that of the 45 year old mother of 2 children, currently cared for at the Sakura Domestic Violence shelter.
But forging gender equity isn’t limited to women solely fighting the good fight. Allies are incredibly important for the social, economic, cultural and political advancement of women.
Today at the Campus of Hope, H.E Mr. Chao Xiaoliang Ambassador of China to Samoa officially opened the teaching of the Chineses Language as part of the sheltered children’s educational rehabilitation program,
under the coordination of the Confucius Institute. “As a women-led organization, I represent SVSG in wishing all women a happy celebration this year, as we #EmbraceEquity to achieve equality.”
Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
SVSG celebrate IWD and success
10 March 2023
By Gutu Faasau
The Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) on Wednesday joined the global commemoration and celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023.
The theme for the IWD 2023 was “Embrace Equity” with the local non-profit organisation saying it believes the global campaign seeks to draw attention to the fact that equal opportunities are not enough to achieve what true inclusion and belonging. As such, there is a call to action, to embrace equity in all its form.
The SVSG over the last few days met with some of their beneficiaries and partners who provide valuable support for their various community services. Their visit to the Campus of Hope and to support the celebration of the IWD was a message of embracing equity to show solidarity.
The SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang has been the mother figure for many of the children survivors of violence, and embraces them as her own children.
The Chinese Embassy to Samoa officially launched a program with the Samoa Victim Support in learning Chinese Language (Photo: Piui Simi)
“As a family, let us embrace Equity in all its form as equal opportunities are not enough to achieve true inclusion,” she said.
The organisation’s rehabilitative services for women offenders is an initiative taken to support and counsel Samoan women from different local communities.
One of the many purposes of the organisation is to create a brighter future for the young and old mothers so that they can look follow this year’s theme. Women counselors have played a valuable role in ensuring that the organisation’s objectives are achieved on their journey to creating a violence-free society. This also includes people with disabilities to set an example of what ‘Embrace Equity’ truly means.
The self-employed nofotane women, who have been empowered to embrace the work of their hands, were also acknowledged.
According to Siliniu, forging gender equity isn’t limited to women solely fighting the good fight. It also includes allies who are important for the social, economic, cultural and political advancement of women.
She then shared a few words on how touched she was that their partners and friends ran to assist the Campus of Hope in any way they could and is deeply grateful for the gesture.
On Wednesday afternoon the Chinese Ambassador Samoa, Chao Xiaoliang and his staff also showed their support through the donation of school supplies and a Chinese learning class so that the children would be equipped with new skills for future opportunities.
“As a women-led organisation I represent SVSG in wishing all women a happy celebration this year, as we embrace equity to achieve gender equality,” added Siliniu.
A Nofotane Woman’s Story of Transformation
A nofotane woman from Toamua participated in a virtual Roundtable on Arts Festivals, Copyright and Traditional Knowledge, organised from Geneva, under the framework of DRIVE – Creative Industries, the Driving Force of the Pacific.
Representing the economically and socially empowered women under the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) program for unemployed nofotane women survivors of violence, Asomaliu Samoa Ale’s story of transformation has turned a new chapter.
Asomaliu is a 36 year old mother of 4 girls, staying with her husband’s family at Toamua. She used to be an unemployed nofotane women, relying on her husband as the sole breadwinner for the family.
In 2018, Asomaliu attended the livelihood skill workshop at Toamua, and learnt how to design, mixed and painted fabric with traditional designs called elei.
Upon completing the training, Asomaliu became one of the five thousand beneficiaries of the economic empowerment program implemented by SVSG. The program empowered the lowest class of women in Samoan society, nofotane, in enhancing their confidence and skills to earn an income and participate in family and community matters.
From fabric painting, multiple skills have been born through the hard working hands of this woman. She is now a seamstress, elei fabric printing and a sei creator.
Thousands more unemployed women, youths and vulnerable groups locally and internationally, have been trained and empowered by Asomaliu. This is through sessions held under the shady trees, for unemployed mothers waiting on their children attending the Saina Primary School with Asomaliu’s daughter.
Through social media, Asomaliu have posted photos of her creative arts, and attracted customers locally and internationally. Her live video posts have lead to people sending her friend requests on her facebook page, just so that they could learn from her on how to make sei, which is her most popular product.
Earlier this year, Asomaliu advocated for the empowerment of nofotane women on local television as part of the ongoing Nofotane Program by SVSG, and again, she had gained more customers.
Asomaliu is setting up her own business in front of her family home at Toamua, selling the variety of products she has created. From the economic empowerment seed planted back in 2016, a ripple effect is now enjoyed by this woman, her family and thousands whom she had empowered through training.
Her three older children are now attending school in New Zealand. Her husband is running their taxi business and is saving for an additional vehicle to their fleet.
According to Asomaliu, “now that I’ve experinced the goodness of being empowered both economically and socially, there is nothing stopping me from sharing this blessing with other women and vulnerable groups. For me, the reward is seeing the changes in the lives of the people that I’ve helped. I should know because I myself, is enjoying this blessed journey, thanks to the Program by SVSG for nofotane women.”
The invitation which Asomaliu took up for the Roundtable forum, came from the Registry of Companies and Intellectual properties Division of the Ministry of Commerce Industry & Labour.
SVSG is excited for Asomaliu, and all the women whose lives have been transformed socially, economically or psychologically through the Nofotane Program.
Teaching the unemployed nofotane women survivors of violence a skill, have surely alleviate poverty, improved their financial contribution to family and community matters, and in the process, accellerated progress towards SDG5 for gender equality.
To support the creative works of the Nofotane women, you can buy their products from the SVSG main office in Apia or their online market on http://www.thenofotane.com