The 16 Days of Activism campaign in South Africa was launched on Sunday 25 August, 2018 to attract South Africans to be active participants in the fight to get rid of violence against women & children; and amongst other objectives, to encourage society to acknowledge that abusing women and children is a societal problem, and that failure to view it as such results in failing to end this scourge in our communities.
Since one of this campaign’s objective is also to emphasise the fact that the solution lies with all of us; Impumelelo Yesizwe Community Organization in partnership with Kwa-Tsaduza Albinism Society Initiative and other local organisations took the initiative and raised awareness to try and eradicate violence against women and children in Langaville, Extention 1 soccer field on Monday 26 November, 2018.
The awareness involved the EMPD, SAPS, Child Welfare, Iso Lembongi Creations, Ekukhanyeni Day Care Centre, Thandolwethu Day Care Centre and other early childhood development centres and organisations from the area including older children and parents being both men and women. Councillor Makhosazane Gwayana, welcomed community members, speakers and encouraged children to listen carefully and take in all the information as it is going to help them to be able to know what to do and where to go when they are being abused.
Social worker, Jennifer Modiga who deals with developing women and children in this area, encouraged parents to care for their children, “we are encouraging mothers to take their children only to ECD centres which comply with the law because we also have crèche’s around the vicinity whereby teachers are not qualified and therefore, children are neglected, and neglect is one part of abuse.”
She also added that they have formed a Child Protection Committee where they have gathered all the stake holders including the Child Welfare to help the community to know the right doors to knock on when they have problems. She also encouraged women to gather on their own and educate each other and also pass over the skills they have to others, saying that this way, women can empower themselves and be able to make a living on their own and not only depend on their partners as this can also be a good strategy to help protect themselves and their children from harm.
Community members hadn’t had such an event in their area before which made this one very special to them. They were moved by the things they learned, asked questions to satisfy their curiosity and participated in conversations held. Children were also given the opportunity to sing songs they are taught at school (ECD Centres) which are themed around child abuse, and those in primary schools, enjoyed story time by Iso Lembongi Creations and those who answered questions from the story walked away with stationery prizes.
Mothers who had attended the awareness were happy to be a part of this empowering event. Gogo Pertunia Sondezi is amongst old women who care about other women and one who believes in empowering others. She invited women who wish to learn few things from her to visit her at her house, saying that she has a lot to teach them including sewing whilst Nonceba Mbatyazwa, who is a mother with a child attending at Ekukhanyeni Day Care Centre encouraged community members to care for all children and protect them, saying that “my child is your child and yours is mine”. She believes that this way, violence against children can be eradicated.
The Vice-Chairperson of the Impumelelo Yesizwe Community Organization, Mantwa Sibanyoni, says that this to them was a very wonderful day because they managed to host this awareness to educate women and children about abuse, including the community at large. “Our children are not aware of abuse including mothers themselves, so this is why we called the emergency services to come and educate them because they don’t open up, they are afraid,” she says. She continued to say that since this was their first event, they hope to host more in the future.