By Unumoe Esera
APIA: TUESDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER 2012: Spinning Top, a New Zealand based charity co-managed by Shirley Mansfield and Patrick Shepherd are here in Samoa for two weeks to renovate the old shelters belonging to the Samoa Victim Support Group which houses abused children 13 years and over.
According to Patrick, they were last here in Samoa in March of this year and were here to conduct research on children who may have needs. They discovered the Samoa Victim Support Group and met with SVSG President Lina Chang who requested assistance concerning repair work for the shelters.
“The houses weren’t in great condition, the taps were not working and there were ripples in the floors and they were building in need of rescuing,” he said.
Talking with the SVSG volunteers and Lina, he found out what SVSG needed straight away which was emergency food and funding. “I didnt want to change the system from the way it normally ran. We got supplies from people in New Zealand and Rodney Sooialo is a great ambassador for Spinning tops and he provided shipping containers free of charge. From our talks with Lina and her staff we knew what to bring as it was exactly what they needed, we brought hygienic supplies, cutlery, paints and bunk beds which got shipped over,” he said.
Spinnning Tops has 14 volunteers traveling to Samoa and Patrick said a few would be arriving tonight and would be here for three days. Some of the people coming include artists from New Zealand who would be drawing/painting murals on the walls, curtains and bedrooms of the children at the shelter.
Also accompanying him is Tobias Hall, a chiropractor who will be assessing the children and doing medical checkups to determine if they are in good health.
“Chiropractors are like doctors but we don’t use medicine, we provide nutritional support for certain symptoms and only have a limited amount of time in Samoa which is only a week,” he said.
Patrick added that their main focus is the shelters as it is the greatest need SVSG has at the moment and from that they implemented a plan and will sit down with SVSg after the current project is completed to discuss any other future plans they may have.
He said the outcome of his research in March and their intention was to find vulnerable children in the Pacific as there are not too many charities helping in the Pacific. This is why groups like SVSG seek overseas funding as they are working on low budgets.
Patrick says there is a huge mixture of support from people in New Zealand which people from Wellington sending over containers filled with many things donated.
Spinning Tops he said has been operating for nearly two years now and used to be called Children on the Edge which is now six or seven years running.
WHY SPINNING TOP?
“A lot of our work is in Thailand in Burma and we used to see a lot of kids playing with spinning tops hence the name. When you see a spinning top its main objective is to maintain balance and which is what our charity aims to achieve which is to give balance to children through four key factors which are Nutrition, Education, Shelter and Play which is a clear direction for us. We focus on victim support and children’s charity, working with communities and this helps to benefit the children from a lot of projects such as education and nutrition as there are 12,000 children in Thailand in boarding schools and shelter. Some of projects include nutrition and agriculture,” said Patrick.
Tafatoa Sam Fruean, Treasurer for SVSG thanked Spinning Tops for their contribution. “They finish their work this week and we were searching for an organisation to help out as the house is really old ad there are over 50 children under SVSG’s care. There are two houses and the house at Tuana’imato is now used for babies to 12 year old children. ”
He said the two houses had sheltered the children for the past years. “It is a pleasure to have help from Spinning Tops. I am very thankful because this is one of the things we were trying to get is someone who would upgrade the old houses as they are deteriorating and this is a great contribution to this work,” said Sam.
“The value of donated goods such as wood for workrooms, cutlery for the kitchen providers and paint has a lot of value and is quite expensive in Samoa.
With the help from the New Zealand company free of charge and also some at discounted prices which cost thousands of dollars, he estimated the amount to be about NZD$50,000 for all the resources used.”