Pasifika Futures lent its strong support to the launch of the SIAOLA “Famili lelei” programme at Wesley Church Hall in Wellington last Saturday, an event attended by over three hundred Ministers, Stewards and Church Leaders from throughout the country.
The SIAOLA “Famili Lelei” initiative operates under the umbrella of Vahefonua Tonga Methodist Mission Charitable Trust under the auspices of the Methodist Church of New Zealand.
The vision of the church is “Let the Children Live- eliminating child poverty, child abuse and youth suicide.”
SIAOLA was initiated as a joint programme involving the church and key agencies, to combat the frightening high statistics of Pacific families in New Zealand committing violence, abuse and neglect, especially concerning children.
“Many of the issues are a direct result of daily struggles within the family as well as the lack of educational tools to support positive parenting within a Church and Tongan context,” says Kathleen Tuai-Ta’ufo’ou, Executive Director of SIAOLA.
A status quo led the Methodist Church to tackle the issue from the inside by working with families and parishioners to strengthen the value of the family unit, and especially children and their wellbeing, which is a strong focus of the Vahefonua Tonga Synod work.
Kathleen says the programme is rooted firmly in addressing social concerns amongst our Tongan community.
“The SIAOLA Committee and our 36 parishes and congregations throughout the country, have chosen to address our social concerns by providing programmes and services aimed at building stronger and more resilient children, young people, parents and elderly.”
“Our committee, led by the Superintendent Reverend Tevita Finau and Convenor Reverend Kalolo Fihaki, has been working in partnership with government, health providers and social agencies including trade and education institutions, to provide programmes and services to our parishioners to ensure our families are equipped to face struggles and challenges.”
The SIAOLA Committee was formed in 2006 and consists of Tongan members of the church who are passionate about serving, and professionals in their own fields committed to providing voluntary services to the Vahefonua Tonga Church.
“The solutions to our problems lie in the voices of our children and young peoples, their parents and church leaders. Through them we are able to form programmes and services suited to their needs resulting in positive outcomes,” says Kathleen.
The Famili Lelei initiative is hoping to combat the personal trauma children and families face induced by poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, and which often leads to crime and ultimately imprisonment.
Pasifika Futures strongly advocate aiding struggling families and have sponsored social services workshops including the launch of SIAOLA’s Famili Lelei Parenting Programme.
The SIAOLA committee delivered a well-constructed presentation and workshop on the Famili Lelei programme with a special emphasis on gathering the voices of the people, acknowledging the solutions come from our children, young people, families and church leaders.
The SIAOLA team of volunteers were also acknowledged for their work and dedication to serving the needs of their local congregations, parishes and communities.
The event concluded in the evening with an array of music and speeches focused on the wellbeing of families.