Returnees empowered to start over

By Deidre Fanene ,

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Ala’imalo Lua Maynard ‘Ulalei Vaiala Earthship Project’ during his presentation.

Ala’imalo Lua Maynard ‘Ulalei Vaiala Earthship Project’ during his presentation. (Photo: S.R.C.T)

With the number of deportees increasing every year, the Director of the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust, Magele Vernon Mackenzie, is keen to see these people reintegrate into society as soon as they can.

To do that, he is working with the community as well  as other organisations to provide counselling, rehabilitation and fellowship.

At the Office of the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust at Vailima on Tuesday, two guest speakers from different organisations were invited to present to the members during their meeting to engage and empower them.

“Today is one of our many programmes that we do here at the trust,” said Magele.

 “As a lot of you know many of our returnees are coming back and the influx is four to six per month and this is from the deporting nations which are the Unites States of America, New Zealand and Australia.

“What we are trying to do here at the Trust is to try and give them some counselling, rehabilitation and fellowship.”

He went on to say that their office is trying to get the retrunees to start over and get access to opportunities that many are not eligible to.

The two guest speakers were Dr. Rachael Dempsey, of the Soifua Manuia Trust and Ala’imalo Lua Maynard,of the Safe Man Safe Family – N.Z.

“What we are trying to do is create an atmosphere, some kind of capacity building here at the Trust so members not only get some jobs but can also get some counselling, rehabilitation and also be given the opportunity that not everybody is eligible to.

“When I say opportunities I mean linking up with these kind of folks from overseas that maybe can create jobs for them or volunteer work.

“This is what the government has mandated us to do is try and think outside the box and have some proactive activities so we can better deliver the service to our prodigal sons from overseas.”

Asked about the number of registered members of returnees, Magele said it’s close to a hundred.

“There have also been an increase on our returnees from New Zealand and U.S.A. and we do have an influx of returnees in the last 18 months so there has been an uptake in the deportation from New Zealand. The reason why is because they have changed their immigration laws as well,” he highlighted

 “America also has the position that they can repatriate a lot of our citizens if their visas are revoked or if they are convicted of a criminal offense.

“[But] I just want to clarify the fact that our members have served their sentences overseas so they are not mandated by any parole condition or so forth.

“Unless we do explore some avenues to changing our legislation but that’s above my pay grant.

 “So what we are trying to do is  to get some champions on the high level and we have fit in discussions with many of these folks to try and see if there are some avenues that we can explore within our current laws.”

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