“I have been involved with the Samoa Victim Support Group for more than five years now”, says Fiu Fetinai Leaupepe, a qualified counsellor volunteering for the organization, which provides services to victims of domestic and gender-based violence. “My most recent humanitarian work started during the measles epidemic in late 2019, where I was part of the team that visited families in the community as they dealt with the trauma of losing children to the disease.”
Since the measles epidemic was brought under control, Fiu Fetinai’s work has become focused on providing weekly counselling sessions to young violent offenders, referred to SVSG through the court system. At the same time, she is on stand-by to respond to callers via the SVSG Helpline, or counselling support to walk-in clients at the NGO’s offices.
The demand for counselling has increased since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, and SVSG’s qualified counsellors have been rostered so that support is available 24/7. Now that lock-down restrictions have largely been lifted, work has become easier. “I am now able to do follow-up sessions with clients that I have worked with during the measles epidemic and the COVID-19 crisis”, remarks Fiu Fetinai.
When asked about the difference her work is making in the community, Fiu Fetinai stresses the importance of building trust for people to access help.
“Getting people to trust and relay their problems to a stranger through counselling is the most importance difference SVSG makes.”