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Samoa Victim Support Group to open local office for the territory

reporters@samoanews.com

The Samoa Victim Support Group, a non-profit organization which has helped thousands of victims of crime in Samoa, is planning to open a branch in American Samoa. The local office, to be called the Samoa Victim Support Group American Samoa (SVSGAS) will officially launch on April 16, 2012, where the founder of the SVSG, Precious Chang, will attend, along with her mother Lina Chang, the president of the Samoa branch.

The SVSGAS Coordinator Tafa Atofau Aukuso in an interview with Samoa News said this new branch will be a place of hope for victims of any type of crime. “This center will be like a haven, where anyone who needs help will find comfort, love, peace and hope. “This place is for anyone who needs help; and when they feel they need someone to talk to or someone to open up to, we are here. “This center will have people who love to help and want to see others receive assistance in areas where they need assistance,” said Mrs Aukuso.

She said this faith-based organization is dedicated to providing rehabilitation and programs to promote self sufficiency and participation in the community. The SVSGAS is also a non-profit organization, and they depend on donors to assist them financially.

The SVSGAS Coordinator said they are here to assist and work hand in hand with other government agencies or organizations that serve the same purpose. “There has already been a link with the Department of Human Social Services where SVSG in Samoa has assisted with providing information that was requested by this local government agency”, said the coordinator.

She said they have sent out letters asking the business community to help them open this new branch in the territory.

The local office has an executive committee which has already selected their officers: Fesilafa’Ii Matagi is President, the Vice President is Manumalotaulafoga Vaalasi Gaisoa, Levasa Oloapu is the secretary and Tina Atofau the treasurer. Mrs. Aukuso said the SVSGAS is looking forward to assistance from the church ministers and village councils—namely the village mayors and village chiefs— in their mission to help the victims.

The Samoa Victim Support Group was initiated in Samoa, and established in 2005 with the mission to provide integrated, personalized, professional service to all survivors of crime.

The non-profit organization was set up as the dream of a young, single lawyer, Precious Chang who’s now head of the criminal division of the Attorney General’s office for the Government of Samoa.

This lawyer had identified the difficulties faced by victims who do not have support from family members. Also, she saw that there was no place of refuge and support for the victims. Ex-police officers, volunteers and members of a criminal justice team came together to form the SVSG in Samoa, mainly to be responsible for providing support and counseling for the victims.

The SVSG in Samoa was initially set up to care, support, and help victims of sexual crimes, and after the first few cases it handled, victims of other type of crimes also sought their help.

The SVSG in Samoa now extends its arms to embrace victims in any area of need, whether it be domestic violence, harassment in the work place, or victims of poverty. The SVSG has also recently opened a branch in Sydney, Australia.

Mrs. Aukuso said they welcome volunteers who are willing to help with the center, which is located in Lepuapua next to the Leone Post Office. For more information please contact the SVSGAS representatives at 731-1047 / 731-4088 or  256-4143.



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