N.G.O.s receive lifeline in crisis

By Adel Fruean 25 July 2020, 10:00AM

Financial assistance worth $500,000 has been given to ten non-Government Organisations (N.G.O.s) as part of the Government’s economic stimulus package.

An official ceremony took place earlier this week to present the financial support.

The N.G.O.s receiving assistance included: Mapuifagalele; Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.); Goshen Trust; Faataua Le Ola; Nuanua o le Alofa (N.O.LA.); Loto Taumafai; Senese Institute; Divine Mercy; Aoga Fiamalamalama and the Cancer Society.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Finance, the financial assistance was part of Phase II of its COVID-19 Stimulus Package.

To select non-profit organisations within the country, the Government looked toward those who work providing support services to citizens deemed as most vulnerable. 

The Government said these organisations rely heavily on donations from the general public to finance their operations and these donations may have trickled or completely stopped during the coronavirus-led economic downturn. 

The assistance will ensure the organisations continue services to their clients who may need assistance even more during these times of economic stress.

The assistance disbursed today represents approximately 70 per cent of the total Government provision for non-Government assistance. The opportunity, therefore, to request for assistance under this package remains open and will be subject to criteria.

The General Manager of N.O.L.A., Mata'afa Fa'atino Utumapu, acknowledged the Government’s assistance.

She said that this was also in recognition of the work that N.O.L.A. not only provides in COVID-19 response but also makes sure that people with disabilities are not left behind.

“But we feel strongly recognised for the work we do to raise awareness on rights for persons with disabilities and to ensure that opportunities are there and they are able to contribute and participate fully in society.”

Mata’afa also highlighted that the assistance will, despite Samoa being COVID-19 free, have a response plan at the moment.

“It is the priority of the organisation and some of the works that we are doing to include and not limited to making sure that government programmes, information and services relating to COVID-19 include persons with disabilities,” Mata’afa said. 

“For instance, we are working with the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet to make sure that the information that is currently going out to the public is interpreted in sign language. According to data, there are 12,000 persons with disabilities in Samoa.”

The president of S.V.S.G., Siliniu Lina Chang, also thanked the Government for providing much-needed financial support to care for the victims of violence and abuse housed at their Campus of Hope.

“So far, under lockdown, we have a high number of children and young mothers housed at the campus,” she said.

Siliniu added that due to the increasing number of victims, the need for supplies has skyrocketed. 

“We have more than one hundred new children and women at the campus; this week has been so busy with many new cases admitted including children and a young 13-year-old pregnant teenager.”

The Faataua Le Ola’s Executive Director, Papalii Tiumalu Caroline Paul-Ah Chong also added that the proposed assistance from Government is timely.

“We are humbled and grateful to be recognised by the Government, we are excited and happy, and we thank the Prime Minister and Cabinet for considering our organisation for assistance,” Papalii said. 

“The funding will enhance our delivery service to impact more lives through our outreach programmes for underprivileged especially, stress from loss of jobs can be damaging on anyone.

“We deal with problematic social issues which could lead to suicide and is recognized as a leading organisation for suicide awareness and prevention.”

She added that part of their mandate is to provide information, services and support to assist in the prevention of suicide:

“Despite Samoa being COVID-19 free, we have been receiving a lot of calls from the community asking for counselling services because of loss of jobs and struggling financially to care for their families.”

By Adel Fruean 25 July 2020, 10:00AM

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