Limited funding not an obstacle to YWCA

Having limited access to funding and no office has not stopped the Young Women Christian Association of Samoa from transforming Samoan girls’ lives.

YWCA secretary general Mona Tugaga told Samoa Observer that they still managed to push through with their projects despite the challenges.

“We’ve been changing lives and it got to a point where violence is not a silent issue anymore because women are beginning to lead their families and change themselves for the better,” she said.

YWCA has been educating Samoan young women on leadership, sexual reproductive and health rights, economic empowerment, cyber bullying, human rights and women rights, gender based violence/violence against women, peace and HIV/Aids and climate change.

“Our organization hosted big Rise Up! workshops. One per island and we managed to have focal points like Upolu rural and urban girls mixed which was hosted at the National University of Samoa.

“We also went to Savaii we did the first rise up in Savaii last year which was the closer districts, at Sapapalii, Faasaleleaga and this year we went to Vaisala Falealupo, Neiafu, Sataua, which is the first program to reach out that far for young women work, that I know of,” she added.

YWCA also launched their very own Rise Up! Transformative Leadership manual, which has been contextualized to Samoa’s own social issues faced by its people.

“Before our trainings, we decided to have focus group discussions directly with stakeholders. Even though they had a training manual they needed focus groups discussions.

“The overwhelming enthusiasm by stakeholders to engage with YWCA because they realized this was a good training manual so they hosted and provided a 2 week trainings for peer educators,” she added.

Stakeholders include Ministry of Police cyberbullying department, Samoa Family Health Association, Samoa Chamber of Commerce, Ombudsman’s office, 350 Pacific, Business System, and Apia Employment Company.

A peer educator for YWCA, Darlene Alesana, said her journey with the organization has been life-changing.

“YWCA has been my second family; it’s a part of my life. I love the sisterhood that comes with being a member, how they empower me to move forward no matter how stuck I feel.

“Plus the trainings they provide that equips our decision making wherever and whatever I do and seeing the impacts we have on young women during our workshops is what makes me enjoy volunteer work so much,” she added.

One of their highlights has been providing international platforms for their young leaders who have been great leaders in their own communities, who return and contribute greatly to the development of the organization.

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