Trauma, and its debilitating consequences on mental well-being, is still a major construct in
addressing the short term need of children, especially in marginalised communities.Children in these communities live on high alert, in a permanent state of fight, flight or freeze. They do not “come from trauma” – they live in trauma. Daily, they witness or experience violence, including gender-based violence.
Lack of access to resources and appropriate therapy presents a double negative on these
children. During the Covid-19 lock-down period, incidences of violence and gender-based
violence increased rapidly, it is concerning that those who often experience the highest
levels of trauma have the lowest levels of support.
Community Keepers, a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Stellenbosch, partners
with 28 schools in marginalised communities across Cape Town and the Cape Winelands. They have adopted a two-pronged approach that enables them to host life-skill workshops for learners, educators and caregivers. Challenging topics are tabled including gender-based violence, self-harm, suicide ideation, self-esteem, conflict resolution, boundaries, self-discipline and self-care. Alongside this, Community Keepers establishes child-friendly consulting rooms on-site at the partner schools where learners, educators and caregivers have free access to professional therapy from trained staff social workers, registered counsellors and psychologists. The average intervention is made up of 40-minute weekly consultations for a period of 6 weeks (or longer where necessary).
As part of the measures to mitigate Gender Based Violence and Femicide, the Department
of Social Development has allocated R 100 million from the Criminal Assets Recovery (CARA) Funds Account to provide financial support to organisations rendering services to victims of crime, gender based violence and femicide. The funding is made available through the National Development Agency (NDA) over a period of 24 months. R95 million is set aside for direct financial support to organisations while R5 million will be used for mentoring and coaching of emerging Civil Society Organisations in the Social Development Sector. The first tranche of R45 million has already been transferred for the implementation of services to victims and survivors of gender based violence and femicide, focusing on family strengthening, social crime prevention, social behaviour change and welfare services.
To date a total of 170 contracts have been signed and the first payments have been transferred to 131 organisations to the value of R17, 4 million. An additional R17, 4 million has been committed as second phase of payment for the contracted organisations. The process of contracting the remaining 142 CSOs is currently underway.
“Community Keepers is one of the organisations we are proud to have partnered with as the
NDA to implement programmatic services and systems that do away with the scourge of gender based violence and femicide. This programme, in particular, focuses on a holistic approach that lends support to vulnerable children who are often the forgotten victims in cases of home and community based violence. Our funding approach speaks to a wide range of services that ultimately change behaviour to strengthen families and ensuring crime is not perpetrated in communities,” says Mrs Thamo Mzobe, Chief Executive Officer of National Development Agency.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the new GBV and Bullying awareness campaign, Community Keepers Chief Executive Officer Gerrit Laning said, “The funding from the National Development Agency enables Community Keepers to extend beyond brick and mortar; to reach learners, educators and parents nationally through the use of technology. The entire series of animations, videos, posters, worksheets and the how-to manual will be shared freely online for any organisation to use.
Mindful of the connectivity challenges in rural areas, we are partnering with mobile health clinics to take this campaign to rural areas where we will again share the material as a sort of “campaign-in-a-box”. We have a firm belief that once a funder invests in material, we have an obligation to share our knowledge, expertise and resources as widely as possible. Our dream is to partner with more funders and as many communities as possible, to extend this series as we build resilience and a culture of well-being. As an organisation we strive to live out the National Development Plan and the 2030 Agenda as we work hard to “leave no one behind” and to “endeavor to reach the furthest first.” Nobody should be denied access to mental health care because she or he is poor or lives in a remote place.”
Describing the campaign, media, marketing and funding executive, Meriel Bartlett explains:
“This is a multi-faceted campaign which is built around a series of 60-second animations as
conversation starters. These animations portray life as we know it, little cameos which all learners can relate to and yet expose the deep-seated attitudes and behaviours that need
addressing. Packaged together with each episode are posters, worksheets and workshops
on each topic. Material is developed in three languages, English Afrikaans and isiXhosa
and is age-appropriate, scoped for high school and primary school learners. In parallel, we
have a series of 14-minute videos for caregivers (educators, parents and guardians) as part
of our holistic approach to creating a culture of resilience and well-being,”
Emily Pillay, social worker and project manager says: “I am excited because, as a therapist,
it is encouraging to know that while we are working on the impacts of the issues in a
therapeutic context, we are also raising issues on a broader scale, hopefully creating