Trust looking to expand its reach
The Samoa Social Welfare Fesoasoani Trust (S.S.W.E.F.T.) is looking to expand their reach by connecting with other Non-Governmental Organisations (N.G.Os) to improve the services they provide.
Established in 2016, S.S.W.E.F.T. focuses on assisting offenders and members of the community not only in Court cases but they also provide counselling on legal, immigration and other matters.
Chief Executive Officer, Le'aula Theresa Asiata, said there are four people providing counselling with others helping where they can.
"We cannot exaggerate that this programme is making a big change in the lives of these people as there will always be a slip up from one of them," she said.
"We cannot force our hand but rather just help and provide opportunities for them to be successfully integrated into society. But definitely most of them are back into the work force."
And in order for them to get creative with the ways to help the offenders, the S.S.W.E.F.T. are keen to increase projects for their participants to take part in, this is done through increasing N.G.O.s to work with.
"We have different projects, [including] farming projects, we partner with L.D.S.," she said.
Since 2016, Le'aula said about 16 offenders have gone through the programme.
Participants are encouraged to be more active in church activities in their villages once they are released while S.S.W.E.F.T. deals with anger management and drug and alcohol abuse, said Le'aula.
"The outlook is to network with N.G.Os, because I believe if we work together, another N.G.O. can help another," she said.
"For 2020 we are looking for more projects so we can cater for the offenders, because the more help we can give them, the more we can integrate them back into work, into families, into churches."
One of the offenders on parole that underwent the programme, Timu Tautalaaso Fepulea'i, told the Samoa Observer he is thankful to S.S.W.E.F.T. for their services.
Timu was sentenced to five years behind bars but was released after three years on parole.
"They gave me some things that were missing in my life," he said.
"Freedom has given us hope and S.S.W.E.F.T. has definitely been a breath of fresh air ensuring that we were doing well back in our villages and families."
Speaking from experience, Timu also advised the younger generation to stay away from activities that may lead to jail.
"I have been there, done that, and you do not want to go through it," he warned.