Powerful symbolism for ending violence
The One Million Stars to end Violence project has been a very active one worldwide and even in a small island like Samoa; there are groups playing their part.
The project aims to collect one million paper or ribbon stars by July 2017 which will then be displayed at the Commonwealth Games.
A pledge of 10,000 stars has been made by Samoa’s very own Soulful Weavers made up of National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) staff and students.
Led by the motto – Keep Calm and Weave 10,000 stars – the group has been very active in advocating the end of violence.
“The stars won’t end violence but it mostly has to do with the symbol of the star."
“We get together and talk about the issue and when people see the stars, they will know what they stand for,” said one of Soulful Weavers, Marie Roader.
“So this is really about raising awareness; it’s really about being against all sorts of violence such as violence against women, racism, bullying and so on.”
The group has been hosting a series of Weave Jams at the N.U.S. campus to get more people on board the Stop Violence campaign.
“We recently started up star Weave Jams here in N.U.S. so whoever wants to join us, then come,” Marie said.
“Weave Jams are when we get together as a big group and just make the stars. We provide ribbons and we teach those who want to take part, how to make the stars. We have about 15 regulars so far."
“The N.U.S. staff members are also on board with this project.”
According to Marie, Australia has already displayed a bunch of stars showing the world’s support for the end of violence.
“Our goal is to make 10,000 stars before next year which will be displayed at the Games,” she said. “They have already started putting those up in the Sydney Opera house where they have this huge display of 20,000 stars."
“Communities all over the world have made different pledges to be sent to Australia. They will collect the pledges which will hopefully exceed the one million stars needed.”
But the Soulful Weavers have a long way to go before reaching their pledged quota.
“So far we have between 300-350 stars,” Marie said.
“We haven’t had many Weave Jams. We started making the stars last semester and we’ve had only three Jams. But this semester we are planning to have more."
“It has become a new hobby for a lot of us.”
As for Rosa Filoi, the stars campaign has become a useful tool in her classes at N.U.S. as well as her church programmes.
“We have been using it as a teaching tool here at N.U.S,” she said. “Since it’s about all forms of violence, we’ve been using it in class in the case of West Papua, we are using the stars as a symbol of hope for them and then engaging the students to talk about the issues there.
“For a lot of the students, it was their first time hearing about West Papua and as many may know, the issue is all hush hush there."
“For our church youth group, we were weaving the stars and talking about bullying and how the first step to solving violence is being positive.”
The group has also managed to get a lot of males to take part despite the stereotype that weaving is only for females.
“We have had a few males joining in the weaving and we have found that very empowering,” Marie said. “Many people think that weaving is a female thing but it’s not like that. We had a father and a son join us last week.
“It’s not limited to just girls. Males are involved with a lot of the violence such as violence against women, so it’s great to get them involved. I know it’s small and will be running for a little while but we won’t stop there; it’s going to keep going.”
For Jerry Ah Kee who is one of the male advocates for Soulful Weavers, helping out the group has become a personal fight for his younger sisters. “The main reason why I decided to join this is because I have little sisters,” he said.
“Seeing violence against them is a major fear for me so if creating awareness will help stop violence, then I want to be part of it."
“People are always saying that girls are taking all the action but it’s us guys who have to step up. I urge guys to join in projects like this so that we will all know that violence is bad.”