This program is what Samoa has been waiting for – Faaolesa

The REACH program is definitely what Samoa has been waiting for, says Minister for Justice and Courts Administration, Faaolesa Katopau Ainu’u.

The Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) program is a mobile service that visits rural and urban communities and provides them with information on their social, economic and legal rights. It was initially established in Fiji in 2015 and is now being rolled out in Samoa. 

Last week five villages on Upolu had the opportunity to experience services delivered to their doorsteps by teams from the Ministries of Women and Justice and Courts Administration. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the programme to be taken out to the villages, especially the remote areas of Samoa where access to this information and access to justice is limited,” Faaolesa said. 

“So I think it is a great opportunity for not only the people out there in those villages, but also the sectors to advertise and to get information and make them available to those areas.”

Faaolesa hopes villagers in the remote areas of Samoa will become knowledgeable and will give their input on how to improve the various information they receive through this programme. 

"It’s really an educational programme, once you educate these people on their rights, their human rights and what we have in the Ministries, and they will be able to understand. 

"They will be able to provide ideas on the way they view things from the villages, how the law is applicable to them in the villages."

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He said this is a great avenue for his ministry and the Ministry of Women, and also the opportunity for the programme to expand with other agencies joining. 

"It will and it should become bigger unless there is another programme better, but at this point this is better." 

Prior to the project, Samoa did not really have mobile service delivery to take out the services to those in rural areas, except when the Ministry of Women carry out their programmes in the rural areas then they would inform the people of the services available to them, and also through the media. 

"But nothing like this, this is really direct," Faaolesa said. 

"REACH programme is a great opportunity to make available valuable information to these remote villages in Samoa. Prior to that, we didn’t really have an opportunity to reach the remote areas of Samoa. Most of the information was spread out through the usual media, and if the information does not reach those areas where this information is required, that’s why this REACH programme is a great assistance to our Ministries." 

In terms of funding, the Minister said this is a good project that needs the backing of the country. 

"The UN continues to provide funding we will definitely carry on; if not then we will have to find other way to finance this programme because this is a good pilot project that’s been carried out." 

Meanwhile, yesterday also marked the conclusion of the REACH pilot project on Upolu at Leualesi Leauvaa village, which coincided with the International Women's Day celebration. 

Villager, Saunoaga Susuga Susitina Lene said it is a time celebrate women's accomplishments and remembering how far women have come in society. 

"It’s our job to continue the work that women of the past have started to keep inspiring future change. The role of women and their contribution to society and culture, honouring women and their environment. 

"So let us all spend every day working towards the goal women before us have laid the groundwork before. May women always be moving forward with the dedication and inspiration of those from the past, acknowledge their strength, courage in every standards."

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