An initiative by the Samoa Victim Support Group has provided a practical solution to the ongoing child vendor problem in paradise.
Through funding from the government of Samoa, SVSG has supported 50 child vendors ages 6 – 15 in Upolu, to return to school for the remaining school terms this year.
Twenty one parents received school uniform and stationery vouchers for their children during a ceremony held at the SVSG main office in Apia during the week.
For school registration and school fees, these have been paid directly to the nine primary schools where the children have been enrolled in.
The parents have expressed their gratitude towards the education assistance for their children.
According to one of the mothers Kaisarina Siaosi, “I am thankful to be considered and recognized by the government and SVSG to be included in the project.”
Sasulu Tele, a single father of three children was also thankful. “I am greatful of this program as it enables me to take my children back to school. Since my wife left me and our children, I have never given up on my children’s right to education.”
For the others, the education assistance has helped them to see the value of kids stayiny in school.
As Paepae Siaosi stated, “Due to this initiative, I will ensure that my children will remain in school when the project ends..”
SVSG and the school principals will be monitoring the attendance and the progress of the children.
The parents on the other hand have started on their Positive Discipline Parenting workshops with SVSG which runs throughout the year, to influence a change in mentality towards child protection, while encouraging the parents to support their children’s welfare and education.
An assessment by the SVSG Juniors on the situation of the child vendor families earlier this year, identified inter-related social problems that encourages a vicious cycle of vending and poverty. Problems such as unemployed parents with too many children; children from broken families being exploited through vending; and overcrowded families with too many people living in an unhygienic environment were all identified.
“While working on the street must have provided these families with a short-term solution to make money, SVSG believes that the practical and sustainable solution to poverty lies upon the children’s education, and the parents playing their roles as parents – to nurture, care and protect the children,” said Siliniu Lina Chang SVSG President.
“The adage that action speaks louder than words has challenged SVSG to continued supporting one child vendor at a time, for it reaps meaningful impact on their families and the community.”
Information on the Program:
In May this year, SVSG and the government entered into an agreement whereby the government will support SVSG deliver six targeted programs to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The programs include 1. Counseling for victims of violence; 2. Advocacy programs for perpetrators of violence; 3. Community prevention programs lead by men; 4. Shelter support for women and children survivors of violence; 5. Welfare support to address violence through poverty alleviation; and 6. Awareness & Advocacy in colleges and youth groups.