Early in 2018 our President Muavae (Mua) Va’a had the opportunity to meet with staff from the Samoa Social Welfare Fesoasoani Trust (SSWEFT) while he was visiting the country. From this a friendship has blossomed between Pacific Peoples’ Partnership (PPP) and this important social service organization.
Based in Samoa, SSWEFT (www.facebook.com/ssweft) is a non-governmental organization established in 2015. Its main focus is on assisting offenders and members of the community not only in court cases but also in counselling, immigration matters and providing legal advice.
Their project “THERE IS HOPE” offers counselling for offenders to increase self-esteem. This program engages with males and females who have been sentenced by the court or are awaiting sentencing for their crimes through workshops and other services. The main clientele is youth between the ages of 15 to 25 who are involved in crimes, plus charged and sentenced by the court. SSWEFT offers a holistic program for offenders especially youth who have experienced the harsh justice and correctional systems, so they can emerge as responsible, rehabilitated young adults who can contribute positively to the welfare of Samoa.
SSWEFT also does early intervention outreach programs to discourage youth from breaking the law in the first place. Juveniles released on parole are now offered programs to assist with education and pathways to employment. Most SSWEFT staff are volunteers and they are always looking for resources to sustain their projects and programs.
“It’s not easy to reintegrate any offender as they are looked at as outcasts but we try our best to find ways that these offenders could be accepted back into their communities,” says LeaulaTheresa Asiata, SSWEFT Chief Executive Officer. “We also work together with youth who are involved with alcohol and drugs. Our message to these offenders is that ‘There is always Hope’ for each and every one of them.”
Early in 2018 at SSWEFT’s request, PPP sent a letter to the Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi requesting support for a delegation to attend a major international conference in which PPP was a partner, that is, RedTide in New Zealand. [See the December 2018 issue of our e-newsletter for a full report on the Red Tide Conference.] This was especially timely as Cyclone Gita had just blown through their country leaving much destruction in its path. To our amazement, the Prime Minister provided the support required for the delegation to attend, and from this experience participants conceived of a new program for offenders whereby they become active in civic defense. Offenders will now be trained as responders to climate change that is affecting their homeland.
PPP continues to stay in touch with SSWEFT and was pleased to send a modest donation raised at the Pearls of the South Pacific luau fundraiser in Victoria to assist them with their HOPE project. We look forward to building our relationship with this dedicated team.