Samoan woman who inspired anti-violence movement passes away

By Marc Membrere 09 December 2020, 12:00AM

A Samoan woman who inspired the "She Is Not Your Rehab" movement, which has gained global attention including that of superstar Seiuli Dwayne Johnson, has passed away.

Aitofi Telesia Pouvi Taimalelagi died peacefully last Thursday, her son and founder of the movement, Matt Brown, confirmed.

"My dear mother was my first protector, a survivor, a warrior and a queen," Brown said in a statement.

"She had a generous spirit and a good sense of humour. Her life was one of heartache and struggle, yet she gave birth to nine children and worked hard to give us the very best she could with what she had."

She Is Not Your Rehab is an anti-violence movement started by Brown due to his mother and the suffering he had witnessed in his home.

He says the movement is "founded on her story, her sorrow, her survival and the way I witnessed her for many, many years become a rehabilitation centre for the man she loved, all because she wanted us kids to have a family like she had grown up with.”

Brown’s son, Angelou had tagged Seiuli Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a video last week, asking the Hollywood superstar to join them in spreading the anti-violence message of She Is Not Your Rehab with men around the world.

Seiuli singled out the work the boy's father does with the She is Not Your Rehab group as well as the boy's grandmother.

"I admire your father, greatly for standing up and creating @sheisnotyourrehab. And to make sure his mom - your Nana - will never be forgotten. Encouraging men all over the world to treat our women with respect, love and most importantly, violence-free," Seiuli said.

"The way you sit in your Nana's arms as she speaks to you is the exact same way I would sit in my grandma's arms when I was your age, while she said her prayers in Samoan to God, and then she'd talk to me afterwards just like she talks to you.

"She would tell me the exact same things your Nana is telling you. Listen to her. And always remember her words.

"You stay strong, Angelou and keep listening to your Nana and your dad. One day you will become the leader of your aiga and also a leader the world will admire.”

According to the New Zealand Herald, last week the family described how she felt emotional when Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson singled her out in a powerful message to the family, which he posted online.

Brown had told the New Zealand Herald last month he decided to reach out to Seiuli in the hope his mana in the Pacific community would make men stand up and listen.

His movement's ultimate goal is for “Aotearoa to become violence-free.”

"I promised her before she left this world that I would tell her story to the world,” Brown told the New Zealand Herald on Tuesday.

"Her story will be a source of redemption for many and a way to reclaim the narrative of domestic violence that is still a hidden pandemic and a source of shame here in Aotearoa and around the world.”

A survivor of many of life's toughest battles, Aitofi Taimalelagi died after a battle with lung cancer to leave behind children, grandchildren and a legacy that will last for generations to come.

By Marc Membrere 09 December 2020, 12:00AM

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