Summary Annual Report
SENESE Inclusive Education
Support Services is a not for
profit Inclusive Education service
provider organisation focused
on empowering children with
disabilities, their families and the
communities they live in and
are educated within. The range
of specialist services available
at SENESE has expanded and
benefits hundreds of children
a year. These services are
delivered by a range of qualified
Services are provided from two
permanent sites but serve families
and children throughout Samoa.
Using face to face services
combined with modern technology.
Welcome to SENESE’s 2011
annual report which we hope will
both inform you about our work
and inspire you. We are proud of
our achievements, and would like
to thank those who have helped
us throughout the year including
our members for their support and
voluntary input; each member
of SENESE’s board for strategic
advice and input; our partners for
their incredible work and of course
our donors for both their financial
and advisory support.
We recognise that for a child to
be included in his home, village
community and school, that
SENESE work must centre around
supporting the needs of the family
and working with them to improve
the systems that their child wants
to be included in.
This year we have continued to
work with partners in Samoan
and Australia, to carry out our
I trust that you will enjoy reading
the highlights of our 2011 year
Misiuepa was excluded from school
because of an accident that left him blind.
SENESE has worked with Amoa Secondary
College to establish support and see him
back at school in year 9.
For more information about
our work,please visit www.
Rev Mafi Oloapu
Vision and mission
The learning environment at
regular preschool, primary,
secondary and nominated
outreach schools that SENESE
partners with, will be barrier free
and provide high quality learning
for a diverse range of learning
styles and abilities including
children with disabilities.
To establish and strengthen
a national model of Inclusive
Education for children with
disabilities and their families
0-18 years, that facilitates the
cooperation between SENESE
and other educational and health
organizations, teachers, parents
and students. This model will
result in high quality learning
environment for all students.
Our guiding principles
Our centre is important as it
addresses the identified need to
educate ALL children including
children with disabilities who
because of a historic lack of
targeted support are considered
vulnerable. Access to quality
education is considered a
fundamental basic human right. In
providing support to government
and non government educational
centres. The process will be
recorded and shared Nationally
and regionally. In assisting
MESC to provide support to urban
and rural based government
schools, SENESE will gain
significant capacity throughout
SENESE is based on the
following underlining concepts:
Inclusion of all members of our
Samoan society is essential
to human dignity and the
development of full human
Inclusive schools benefit ALL
children and help to create
All children have a wide
diversity of characteristics and
Difference is normal and
should be valued.
The School learning
environment needs to
accommodate ALL children.
Children with disabilities
should be able to attend the
school of their choice and it
is the school’s responsibility
to provide an inclusive
Community participation is
essential to inclusion and must
be appropriately planned and
Child centered pedagogy is
central to inclusion.
Access to quality education
breaks the cycle of poverty that
people with disabilities often
The Year in Review
SENESE‘s work continued to expand in 2011 with a
skilled staff of 61 people we provided programs in the
Early Learning for families of children from birth to
5 years, rose to support 30 families and children
Primary Inclusive Education Support to primary
aged children increased to support 80 students in
over 59 primary schools
Secondary: Onsite Inclusion program with
Faatuatua Christian Secondary School increased
to 26 Students. Our program also supports three
students in Amoa and St Josephs secondary
Deaf Services, 40 deaf adult members providing
weekly meetings and support to families of deaf
Vision Screening Services 47 schools have a
trained teacher able to screen for vision problems
Samoa Vision Services: 10 – 20 customers a day/
Children able to receive testing and spectacles
locally. MOU with national Health Services
Audiological Services: Over 100 children fitted
with high quality hearing aids and over 50 children
screened for possible hearing impairments.
Capacity building Samoa Special Olympics, the
athlete database grew to close to 200 with regular
training and competitions in villages as well as
National Monthly games.
Promotion & Awareness campaign, saw National
television and newspaper campaigns around
disability awareness inclusive education and
International Day for People with disabilities
SENESE televised an advertisement during International Day for People
with Disabilities that featured the students from the secondary program.
Saanapu Primary School includes all...
When a school embarks on an Inclusive
Education process, that school commits to
change. The changes are many and from all
levels within the school. Changes in how a
principal enrols all students, changes in how
a class teacher sets up group work in the
classroom and changes in how the school
community engages with all families including
those who have a child with a disability. This
has been the case for 50 schools in Samoa that
SENESE Inclusive Education Support Services
funded under the AusAID Inclusive Education
Demonstration Program have witnessed. Many
stories of positive change exist within the walls
of each of these schools. Let’s just take a
look at a couple of these. On the other side of
Upolu nestled just above the claws of the recent
Tsunami is the small school of Saanapu village.
This rural school of approximately 200 students
has confidently embarked on the pathway of
inclusive education. The school has successfully
included two children with disabilities. Tuli is
a smart young boy attending year one at this
village school. He is confident as he makes his
way to class or down to the assembly area using
his white cane. Tuli is supported in class by his
cousin Shanna. Shana has been selected as
his teacher aide and has undergone intensive
training from SENESE in how to support the
learning of a person who is blind. Shana also
learns strategies for home that will help Tuli be
included in all activities in his village. The school
is visited by SENESE staff every fortnight and
Shana and Tuli also come in one afternoon a
week to conduct a video conference to The Royal
Institute for Deaf and Blind Children in Sydney
Australia. During these sessions Shana and
SENESE staff discuss Tuli’s program, share
developments and address challenges and areas
of concern. Shana commented recently, “These
sessions and support from SENESE give me the
confidence to try new things and reassure me
that I am on the right track.” There have been
changes in the children who attend Tuli’s school
as well. Shana reports that Tuli is never short of a
guide and the other children really enjoy talking to
Tuli and listening to him sing and tell jokes. They
are learning to Braille with Tuli and can read his
The principal of the school is very proud of
their achievements as he said himself, “Tuli is a
Sa’anapu boy and has the right to go to school
with his friends and cousins. He adds a lot to our
school and has given us the opportunity to learn
more and work with the SENESE team.”
Tuli’s grandmother Luisa is delighted that Tuli
is able to go to school in the local village as
previously that would have had to travel 45
minutes to Apia and were considering sending
Tuli to New Zealand to gain an education. That
has all changed now.............. More stories like
its local and
partners. Utilising the Australian Volunteer
scheme to provide an opportunity to
help build a skilled work force SENESE
has had the very best volunteers working
along side local staff.
A Special Partnership with RIDBC
• The VIDA project sending and supporting
Russell Watts, Caroline Conlon & Ben Clare
to work as volunteers in Samoa.
• Providing audiology services to deaf
children in Samoa – a collaboration between
Senese and RIDBC.
• Facilitating RIDBC Teleschool services to
three deaf children and one blind child.
• Providing consultative support in program
and facility development.
• Operating “shadowing programs” for a
number of Senese staff who have stayed on
site at RIDBC and learnt from RIDBC staff.
• Providing scholarships for study in
deafness at RIDBC Renwick Centre.
SENESE has worked diligently to assist
Special Olympics Samoa to build capacity
and realize an improved situation for people
with Intellectual disabilities. SENESE was
part of the Special Olympics movement that
saw 8 athletes compete in the fi rst World
Summer games in Athens.
…..For me the games have
proven time and time again
the human capacity for
change. Every journey worth
taking begins with a single
step, I hope this journey of
change for the better is one
that will never end.
But for now the Athletes
are returning home to their
villages. Donna asked me to
tell you not to be surprised
if you see them still wearing
their medals. She asked
me to ask you if you do see
them go up and shake their
hands and ask them about
Share in their victory not
only because they were very
proud Samoans representing
their country in the fi nest
way, the only way a Samoan
knows how to but because
their victory is our victory as
a nation, and who would not
want to share in that?
From here the journey will
continue...not only for the
athletes in their homes
and in their villages but at
their monthly games. It is
these monthly games that
will continue this journey
of change not only for the
athletes but for all of Samoa.
SENESE & Special Olympics
are agents of change.
Postcard from CEO Digicel
who supported Special
The Dawn of A New Day
Lene’s amazing achievements are not a dream
but a blessing from heaven. I am high in my
emotions and I cry out like the cry of Ruth to
Naomi. ‘I will follow you until the day I die’.
In the light of this journey, knowledge of
Lene’s disability was not a seed that fell on
soft ground, especially in the hearts of Lene’s
parents and grandparents. However, with much
determination and encouragement from one
of our family members to continue the search,
our family gave in. A female specialist from
Australia for children with disabilities came to
It did not take long for our journey to bear
fruits, as we saw swift changes in Lene’s daily
life and especially his educational life. It was
hard at first because we did not understand
Lene’s disability, it was even harder because
we did not know how to communicate with
him as he could not speak .But by far the most
challenging for us was his temper, it made it
clear to us that Lene has a disability.
“The dawn of a new day” for me though was
when the government especially SENESE
introduced ‘Inclusive Education’, a new era for
us as we saw our children with disabilities take
their seats in the regular classrooms. It is the
greatest joy for Lene’s parents, grandparents
and our entire family to see Lene take his place
with other children in the classroom as we now
know that he will get the same chances as the
other children thus gaining more in life. There
are a number of exciting programs introduced
to us by SENESE including home visits by
special teams as well as school visits.
In the classroom, Lene could play with his
classmates, he can talk, sing various songs
especially songs that he hears on the radio
and TV. and also the songs that are sung every
morning in class. He could control his temper
now. He can count 1 – 10, recite the Samoan
alphabet from ‘A –R’. He can now perceive
sounds and countless other things he could
do since he joined this wonderful program.
Lene is a very bright child. My humble prayer
is that God continues to shower Lene with his
heavenly blessings and that His Holy Spirit will
guide his future as I strongly believe, God never
forsakes his people.
Written by: Tupaepae Simi.
Adult winner in our Successful
stories of Inclusive Education
Graduates of the
Leone Peteru and
Melissa Resitala, now
employed at Aggies
The range of services and professionals provided through
SENESE is unique in Samoa. We work with children and their
families in their homes and at the schools the children are
included into. We also provide school to work transition for
students completing Secondary School.
In 2011, SENESE provided support to 136 children and their
families across Samoa. At year’s end, children with significant
physical, intellectual, autism vision and or hearing loss were
benefiting from SENESE’s range of services.
SENESE operated from campuses at Vaitele for the secondary
program and Moto’otua for all other programs. SENESE works
with children from birth to the end of school and then provides
transition to work programs.
SENESE continued to
to overcome the
associated with living
in isolated rural areas
ensuring families have
access to the same
services available in
the major cities and
families with children
who have received
cochlear implants are
able to access the expert
support of RIDBC.
Teleschool and SENESE
staff on a weekly baiss.
At the end of 2011, 4
children received this additional support through a pilot
program. These same four children are able to have their
internally inserted cochlear implant electrodes remotely
adjusted using broadband internet.
SENESE also provides opportunities for children
with vision impairment to have access to the latest
technology to assist them in their learning environments.
At Saleapaga Primary school a satellite dish and
computer centre was installed that allows all school
students to access the internet. It also allows SENESE
staff another medium for providing support to the school
through regular email and skype chats.
Blessings in Disguise
God created all people including people
with disabilities and he loves all of us
My school at Saleapaga is a good
example of this. This year is a special one
for my school.
Gifts have been poured in for us from
different sources after the Tsunami hit
We have been blessed with special gifts
in the form of computers where we can
have access to internet and e-mails.
Things that we could only wish for are
now made easy and available for us
because of our brother, Uaealesi, who
has a disability.
Who would have thought that my simple
Saleapaga School would be put on a
pedestal for how we include people with
I do not distinguish the deaf from those
with good hearing, the blind from the
sighted ones, or people with intellectual
disability from people without
Everyone is the same at my school.
We eat together, play and work together
because we all are one.
Families overseas are surprised when I
communicate with them through e-mail.
Yes, my Saleapaga school is no longer a
distant and remote village but it is up in
I also participate in high school
competitions because all is made
easy through the use of the internet.
Thank you to SENESE for your
We fully support education for all.
By Chris Tavai Neueli.
Year 8 Saleapaga Primary School
(one of the 25 winners in the Story
of Success Inclusive Education
Students with vision
problems find missing pieces
When 11 year-old Jordan Faasisila of Sataoa Safata
was referred to the vision screening programme of
Senese Inclusive Education Centre he was attending
the local primary school in his village.
But it’s an experience he did not particularly enjoy or
look forward to. Jordan contracted rheumatic fever
at an early age and resulted in acute vision loss to
add to the other physical symptoms of the fever.
According to his mother Aiaifua Afemata Faasisila,
Jordan found it extremely difficult to read or focus
on his school work for longer periods of time. She
says Jordan would often look at the books for
a while, and then he would walk away. All that
changed in October last year when he was referred
to the programme.
Jordan was examined by the eye clinic and he
was given a pair of glasses that according to his
mother, have changed his life dramatically, and
how he deals with his school work. “I cannot speak
for his teachers and his school. But ever since my
son received his glasses, I see a huge change. He
is reading more, and able to concentrate on his
homework longer when he is at home. The glasses
have helped him to maintain his interest in reading”
said the relieved mother. Jordan’s use of his glasses
is not limited to going to school and home.
According to his mother, he wears them to Sunday
school, to church and basically everywhere he goes.
Jordan’s mother also encouraged parents of children
with vision problems not to be disheartened as there
is help available for their children, through eye tests
and the provision of eye glasses.
“We as parents must be alert and seek specialist help
for our children with vision problems, so they will
not miss out on a good future like their peers.”
Another young student who has benefited from the
use of glasses is Olioli Iosefo. Olioli Iosefo from the
village of Safotu Savaii is 12 years-old and has Low
Vision. According to the reports from the initial
visits to the student, she stopped going to school
when her parents and teacher found out that she
has problems with her sight.
In July last year Olioli was given a pair of +2.00
glasses, to everyone’s surprise, Olioli started flipping
through a book and started pointing and naming
things that she was looking at. The glasses were
then given to Olioli as a gift. She was enrolled in the
Sacred Heart’s Primary School in Safotu late last
year and according to her teacher Fetineia’i Pese,
the student has great potential.
“Olioli is now able to point out letters and objects,
and work on the resources provided by the team.
She enjoys taking part in the interschool activities
like singing and dancing. I believe there is a good
chance that she can progress further given patience
and understanding” said Fetina’i.
There are no doubt plenty of students like Olioli
and Jordan who are on the verge of missing out
on a good education. But that will no longer be
the case with our vision screening programme for
early detection of vision difficulties, and the Samoa
vision centre now opened for eye checks and the
prescription of glasses. The Samoa vision Centre
opens from 8 to 4 Mondays to Friday.
In 2011, SENESE partnered with MESC and RIDBC and trained
47 teachers to conduct vision screening in their respective schools.
A referral pathway was established for children who failed vision
Eleven students who have been identified through the program are
now receiving education support through SENESE.The project also
included the upgrading of vision clinics in collaboration with local
government and not-for-profit agencies.
with the National Health
Services the delivery
of three hearing
Children from regular
schools and special
schools attend these
clinics. The clinics
were greatly assisted
through the team of
audiologists who visit from RIDBC Australia, Professor
Phillip Newall, Cristy Newall and Genelle Cook.
Close to 100 children were tested and over 60 fitted
with high quality hearing aids.
SENESE now has two trained hearing aid technicians
who help keep children’s hearing aids working despite
the humidity of Samoa.
Technology restores the
gift of hearing
Uaealesi Vi’iga is back after being away
in Australia for five weeks to receive an
operation to help him to hear again. Uaealesi
lost his hearing when he was 7-years-old
after he contracted meningitis. He had been
fitted with hearing aids but these were not
So Uaealesi was accompanied by his father
Viiga Fa’atoia to Westmead Hospital, in
Sydney, where the operation took place.
There, the father was also trained to help his
son with his rehabilitation of learning to listen
and to speak again.
“Thank you to SENESE who have helped us
and made us aware of this wonderful program
and now my son is able to fully participate in
school and at home,” says Vi’iga.
“Now his hearing impairment is no longer a
barrier to full inclusion in school and home
life.” Uaealesi is the fourth cochlear implant
recipient for Samoa and will be the first to be
receiving his rehabilitation via the internet
using video conferencing technology.
Kylie Chisholm from Sydney Cochlear Implant
Centre (SCIS) will be coming to Samoa for
3 weeks to train staff from Senese to help
develop and work with Uaealesi’s language
We would like to acknowledge the support
of Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Chiildren
(RIDBC), Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre
(SCIC), SENESE Inclusive Edcuation
Services, Totalisator Agency Board , The
Church of Latter Day Saints, who have either
financially and logistically assisted us in
making this into a reality.
If you suspect that your child may have
difficulty with hearing please do not hesitate
to call SENESE Inclusive Education Support
Services on 27531.
Winning Deaf team
trips down memory lane
PR - The Samoan Deaf Beach Volleyball team
gathered on Saturday morning to celebrate their
success at the XVI Australian Deaf Games, last month.
The reunion brought team members together with
their families and gave an opportunity to reflect on
the Games experience. Head of Delegation Caroline
Conlon says the gathering brought back wonderful
“It was so nice to be together, it felt like we were still
in Australia! The experience we shared together is
something that is special to us all.”
The team met for a debrief meeting to identify all the
positive aspects of the Games and what they can learn
from the Games to improve in the future.
“We are very proud of the team and those who
won medals.” Conlon is quick to add that they have
returned as confident and outgoing people. “The
experience for the deaf Samoans to be part of an
event that involved more than 800 athletes and visitors
has completely opened their eyes and instilled a new
sense of enthusiasm and initiative in their lives”.
For the Samoan deaf community, it was enlightening
to see other deaf people are leading fulfilling lives as
with hearing people and the perspective of deafness
as a disability has changed and is rightfully seen as a
Families joined with the team as they watched a photo
slide show that was filled with stories. Director of
Senese, Donna Lene, believes the whole experience
in Australia has created 10 very promising young
deaf leaders to continue to develop programmes for
Samoa. “The future looks very good,” she said.
The Deaf Volleyball Association in Australia spoke
highly of the skills and natural talent that Samoa has. It
is clear that this experience has given them inspiration
to develop and grow stronger together through sports
and other opportunities.
They have their sights set on the next Games which
will be held in Adelaide in 2016.
Discussions are already in place with the view to
setting up Deaf rugby 7’s, cricket and netball teams.
If you have an adult deaf family member please
encourage them to make contact with Deaf Services,
Deaf Services provides home
visits and parent support
groups to families of children
who are deaf to improve
communication using sign
language. This program has
made huge changes in the lives of
people who are deaf and their families.
During 2011 programs ran to gather and empower deaf
adults through the establishment of a deaf club. A camp
was held in the early part of 2011 which provided a firm
foundation to allow the deaf club to grow. Toward the end
of 2011 the deaf club membership had risen to 40 with
people in both Upolu and Savaii. Midway through 2011,
with the assistance of Andrew Welshe, the Samoan Deaf
Club began preparations to participate in the Australian Deaf
Games in beach volleyball for men and women. Skillfully
the team prepared under Vaiaoga Leatuvao and Caroline
Conlon and went onto achieve great success.
In the next three years
In the next three years SENESE will continue to
empower children with disabilities, their families and
the communities they are included in by:
1. Enabling an increasing number of educational
providers to include students with disabilities as a
regular feature of their daily work.
Leverage technology and innovation appropriate to
our Samoan situation.
2. Improve access to quality services across Samoa,
by continually reviewing and improving what we
3. Establish a purpose built resource facility for our
4. Play a part in creating more awareness and
valuing the potential that lies within every person.
5. Share our experiences with other Pacific Islands.
Early diagnosis, quality
support, the right technology and
a devoted family means that there
are endless opportunities available
for children with disabilities in
SENESE would like to thank all the people who
have supported SENESE over this past year.
SENESE acknowledges the following donors who
have given exceptional contributions to SENESE
through specific programme grants
• Australian Agency for
• European Union
Please continue your support of our
work enhancing the quality of life of
people with disabilities in Samoa and
enabling the village, education and
health systems to be able to reduce
barriers and provide access as a matter
of usual business.
To find out more, to become a member or
make donation to SENESE, go to www.
call us on
+ 685 27532; or send us an email at