As Lina Chang works to help abuse survivors at House of Hope — the community home she founded in Apia, Samoa — she feels like it can be a lonely road.
At times she has to cry, and then she gets on with her work.
“I love these kids, and I love seeing the change in them when they are brought here. They learn to smile again. God is looking after me and is ensuring that His children are okay,” Chang said.
Chang began helping one child at a time in a deteriorating home with only one bathroom. Now, 18 years later, the campus includes a school, kitchen, nursery, houses and dorms to meet the needs of about 110 children. A house on the premises also helps women who are fleeing domestic violence.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pacific Assist and other charitable organizations and donors have given generously to help House of Hope support these women and children.
For example, monthly operating costs are supplemented by the Church of Jesus Christ, reported the Church’s Pacific Newsroom.
“Often the Church will bring us extra food and cover some of our immediate needs. They even came and helped us to start a veggie garden to ensure that our children have healthy food to eat,” Chang said.
The Church donated a van to help Chang and her staff take children to medical appointments and court appearances, which has made a lot of difference. Pacific Assist donated a new playground for the children that the children use often. The Church partnered with the group to ship the playground equipment from New Zealand and get it to the House of Hope grounds.
“From the beginning, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came forward. The Church believed in helping the children. Back when no one was talking about it and nobody wanted to know that it was happening, the Church believed me and helped,” Chang said.
Chang has added counselors, teachers and more volunteers. She advocates for the children in court, attends their weddings, helps them find scholarships and remains as a mentor in their lives.
All the while, Chang and those at the House of Hope have to find ways to keep it funded. She said she is grateful for the support received from all those who have stepped forward.