Peter Leilua: Global Hope Missions: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Growing roots for the rootless
Determined. Dedicated. Selfless
In his previous role as a court registrar, Peter Leilua witnessed the problems that alienation and rootlessness inflict on young people.
Determined to become part of the solution, he left the security of his full-time position in 2010 to form an organisation that could make a difference at the frontline of youth development.
Today that organisation, Global Hope Missions, provides a host of services – from courthouse advocacy through to academic mentoring – that bring direction into the lives of vulnerable youths and their families.
Peter works closely with his wife, Tiliilagi, a Global Hope co-founder who also served as a court registrar.
“We share the same vision,” says Peter. “She’s a massive backup for me, and I think I’m the same for her.” Tiliilagi brings a special focus to programmes for women and girls, complementing Peter’s rescues of alienated young men.
“Amazing – a blessing,” is how Peter describes being voted a Westfield Local Hero. “On the days when it feels tough, when we ask if we’re really doing anything, that community affirmation helps to keep us going.”
Among Peter and Tiliilagi’s biggest successes has been the Pacific Learning Centre, which supports local families.
The team at the centre includes teachers, sports coaches, mental health workers, prison officers, parents and grandparents. So far, more than 30 centre participants have found employment or continued on to further studies, while six families have embarked on social enterprises.
Peter has also started a youth leadership group that encourages peer mentoring and youth events.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
Global Hope Missions will use its grant to support skilled facilitation for its programmes, and to buy basics such as team uniforms, sport and art equipment and stationery.
“Uniforms play a big part,” notes Peter. “When you take a youngster who’s spent his life looking apart, and you put him in a team with a uniform, you see his eyes light up – something inside him is now saying: ‘I feel like I belong’.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.