N.G.O.s unite behind baby safety push
The recent discovery of a dead newborn baby girl at Vailu’utai has revived calls to establish a system that allows desperate young mothers to “drop off” babies without questions being asked.
The Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) a non-Government organisation says that young mothers can feel free to “drop off” babies at their gate without questions being asked.
“The main purpose of the S.V.S.G. was to [establish an organisation to] provide shelter assistance [to] children and victims of all forms of abuse and neglect,” said the President of S.V.S.G. Siliniu Lina Chang.
“Our mission is to save lives.”
This week a 24-year-old woman has been charged with infanticide following the discovery of the dead child. More charges are expected to follow, said Commissioner Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil.
Fuiavaili’ili said the young Vailuutai mother has been released on bail and referred to counseling services to ensure her mental wellbeing is looked after.
The young woman appeared to have been hiding her pregnancy prior to the incident, the Commissioner said.
Fuiavaili’ili took the opportunity to remind the public that baby dumping is “not an option.”
“It is hard to put myself in her position but there are resources and options available,” he said.
“There are people out there wanting babies. Bring them to the fire station, to the police, to the hospital. This is not an option.”
Villagers of Vailu’utai who spoke to the Samoa Observer on the condition of anonymity said the body of the infant was discovered in the bushes on Tuesday morning.
Not-for-profit organisation, Fa’ataua le ola (F.L.O.) Executive Director, Papalii Caroline Paul-Ah Chong said cases of infanticide often involve “extreme emotional disturbance.”
Faataua Le Ola provides frontline services through the activation of a 24/7 free helpline (800-5433), advocating for a Samoa that is fully empowered to “value life”.
“In our society, women are looked down upon for being a pregnant teenager and or a single mother. This could cause a young woman to choose to abandon her child rather than face the consequences and the condemnation of her family, village, church,” she said.
“Sadly this young woman will have to answer to the law for her crime, because she has caused her infant baby to die.”
F.L.O. will offer their services to the charged young woman to help her come to grips with her crime.
Siliniu said organisations have unified on the question of offering assistance to young women dealing with unwanted pregnancy.
“They are more than welcome to drop the baby off,” she said.
“No questions asked.
“Do not under any circumstances abandon the baby; it is becoming prevalent and this is not who we are.”
Siliniu said the S.V.S.G. maintains a toll free helpline number (800-7874) to call if they are unable to come to the shelter.
She said that young mothers with unwanted pregnancies should come to them for help; before they are due to give birth.
“We will help you get through with the pregnancy and you can deliver the baby and leave [the baby[ with us,” said the President.
She said that S.V.S.G. launched a new "Saving Lives" initiative last year and at that time, more than one hundred abandoned babies have [been] found homes locally and overseas after being rescued by the organisation.
Siliniu said it was only this time last year that Samoa was shocked by the news of a dead newborn baby girl found dumped next to a trash bin at the Mulifanua Wharf.
Another dead baby was laid to rest at the Tafa'igata Cemetery not long after being found near waters in Laulii.
“This will continue to happen,” Siliniu said.
As reported earlier the Chairperson of the S.V.S.G Board, Georgina Newton Lui, has reminded the public the S.V.S.G. are here to help any young mothers, especially those with child and who fear stigma or discrimination.
Last year Police Commissioner Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, urged members of the public to drop off babies at public buildings such as Police stations or hospitals rather than abandon them.
A “baby hatch” idea, in which infants can be dropped off safely into an insulated and climate controlled area through a flap in the wall of a hospital. Its adoption in Samoa was first proposed by the Vice President of the National Council of Churches, Reverend Aisoli Iuli. The devices are in wide use in countries such as Germany.