Volunteering to make a difference
As a non-governmental organization, the Samoa Victim Support Group and its work is sustained by donor funding, grants, donation and volunteer support.
While funding are usually for a specific project or area of work, volunteer support is relied upon to fill the gap in the human resources required to keep things moving.
And the Group has been blessed with a variety of capability contribution from local and international volunteers; some are qualified experts in their field of work and have taken time out to help S.V.S.G, others are working towards completing a qualification, and have chosen to take up internship with S.V.S.G.
Regardless of who they are or what they do, what we have in common with the S.V.S.G volunteer family of supporters is the passion to lend a hand.
Last week saw refresher training by David Sutton, a psychiatric nurse from New Zealand, volunteering for S.V.S.G.
The training was for staff and facilitators of counseling programme for court referred offenders of violence. It covered mental illness awareness and suicide risk, from the New Zealand perspective and accepting that the experience of mental illness may be different in Samoa.
Mr. Sutton is in Samoa for three months with his wife Kathy Basire who has been volunteering with S.V.S.G as well.
Ms. Basire is a criminal lawyer who has spent ten years as a Crown Prosecutor in Christchurch. She has been working in the office assisting with case work, document preparation and with the Nofotane project as well as training the S.V.S.G juniors on the experience of sexual violence victims.
Both Mr. Sutton and Ms. Basire have spent time at the shelter helping with the under 3’s. They have five children of their own and are due to return to New Zealand on 7 July.
From Netherlands, the S.V.S.G has a young intern, Simone de Vries, who chose S.V.S.G for her intership towards her Social Work education at the HZ University of Applied Sciences.
She volunteered at the School of Hope and later at the main office for three months, from March to May 2017. She has returned home and continues to keep in touch with SVSG.
“Thank you so much again for the opportunity of working with S.V.S.G. I loved it and I’ll probably look back on this for the rest of my life as such a good experience,” she said.
“During the months of March, April and May I worked as a volunteer at S.V.S.G. The first four weeks I taught English and Maths at the School of Hope.
“Here I got to meet the wonderful and strong women and children living and working at the Campus. I loved this, although I’m not a natural teacher.
“After the Easter break I went to work at the S.V.S.G office, which was something totally different, but also very nice, since I got to spend more time with my colleagues.
“During my time at the office I helped working on the Nofotane project. I found this very interesting, because S.V.S.G is trying to better the position of Nofotane women in Samoa, while at the same time not trying to change the Fa’aSamoa.
“In my three months I really feel like I got a pretty good glimpse of Samoan life. I got to experience the good things about Samoa, but I also saw some problems in society. And that’s where S.V.S.G steps in and helps and cares about the people that really need it. I will not forget my time with SVSG and I’ll try to be an advocate for SVSG in the future.”
The President of S.V.S.G, Siliniu Lina Chang is extremely grateful.
“S.V.S.G is grateful to the support from its family of volunteers. There has been an exchange of knowledge and skills, most importantly, amazing experiences. “Thank you so much to our family of volunteers for making a difference through your services.”