Movement urges young people to stop violence

More than 200 youth from Upolu and Savai'i have spearheaded a movement that is focused on using respect as a strategy to eliminate violence against women and girls in Samoa.

As part of the overall strategy to address the issue, the youth successfully completed a five-month training and were selected from a network of over a hundred church youth groups registered as Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) Junior members.

The S.V.S.G. Junior is the youth sub-group of the non-government organisation and humanitarian organisation the S.V.S.G.

Over the last 12 months, a total of 250 youths have been trained to become youth ambassadors as part of the Samoa Spotlight Initiative to end domestic and intimate partner violence. 

As part of the training they learnt about aspects of youth and the culture of respect; youth and breaking the cycle of violence; youth empowerment; and serving the community with love and respect.

Through these empowerment programmes, the youth highlighted the significance of the traditional Samoan culture that supports male respect for women and girls to end violence.

The practicality of these learning methods was put to the test over the last two weeks when the youth representatives from Savai'i and Manono-tai carried out community service for the elderly with health issues, and also people with disabilities and vulnerable members of the community.

A youth representative from Savai'i, Tali Lene led the youth groups from the villages of Iva, Papa Puleia, Salelavalu and Saletagaloa to assist in repair the home of a vulnerable elderly man who lives by himself. 

Mr. Lene said that experience over the last five months challenged them mentally on gender roles that are socially acceptable, for instance, women tidy the house while men tend to the plantation.

“Look at us we haven’t died from tidying this elderly’s house,” said Tali.

In the village of Samata-i-tai the S.V.S.G. youth officer Amalea Vaai spent the day with a 73-year-old woman and later said that she never experience caring for an elderly grandmother.

“I never got the chance to experience such caring for my own grandmother, and know how it feels like to serve her with love and respect," she said. 

The S.V.S.G. President Siliniu Lina Chang thanked U.N.E.S.C.O. [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation] Pacific for choosing to partner with S.V.S.G. on such an exciting project.

The Upolu youths will have their turn to serve the community with love and respect this coming weekend.  

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