OR­GAN­I­SA­TION OF THE MONTH

Since open­ing its doors in 1999, the Saartjie Baart­man Cen­tre for Women and Chil­dren (SBCWC) in Ma­nen­berg in the Cape Flats has been of­fer­ing a one-stop sup­port fa­cil­ity for women and chil­dren who are sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and abuse

Food & Home - - Contents - BY ANNA TRAPIDO PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY BRUCE TUCK

For two decades, the Saartjie Baart­man Cen­tre for Women and Chil­dren has given refuge to sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence

Ac­cord­ing to SBCWC direc­tor, Ber­na­dine Bachar, the cen­tre has as­sisted over 190 000 peo­ple to date. “We op­er­ate in an area that has very high crime rates; there’s gang­ster­ism, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, child abuse and sub­stance abuse all around us, but our motto is ‘vi­o­lence ends here’”, she shares.

And to prove this, res­i­den­tial pro­gramme man­ager, Dorothea Gertse, over­sees the 24hour cri­sis re­sponse shel­ter – or Res­i­den­tial Pro­gramme, as it’s for­mally known – which is al­most al­ways full to ca­pac­ity. Within this safe space, up to 120 women and chil­dren have ac­cess to holis­tic so­cial work and sup­port, which in­cludes free psy­choso­cial care, le­gal ad­vice, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment train­ing, sub­stance abuse re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and early child­hood de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes. His­tor­i­cally, a high per­cent­age of women who leave abu­sive re­la­tion­ships re­turn to them. Many say they go back due to a lack of fi­nances; as such, the staff at the SBCWC work tire­lessly to em­power the women at the shel­ter through ac­cred­ited skills-train­ing pro­grammes. It is hoped that this train­ing will lead to em­ploy­ment or self-em­ploy­ment, which can not only sup­ply im­por­tant fi­nan­cial re­sources to the women but also raise their self-es­teem, thereby pro­vid­ing them with the psy­cho­log­i­cal strength to end abu­sive re­la­tion­ships. In sup­port of such sen­ti­ments, the cen­tre re­cently part­nered with MTN to launch a state-of-the-art mul­ti­me­dia com­puter-train­ing fa­cil­ity.

On the sus­te­nance side, chef Ach­mat Al­lie and his deputy, Co­lette Geduld, are at the fore­front of a kitchen strat­egy de­signed to en­sure that food fills a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive role, too. “What the chefs present at meal­times is so much more than just a plate of food – meals be­come sites of nutri­tional and emo­tional heal­ing,” Ber­na­dine ex­plains. She adds that do­mes­tic abuse can be iso­lat­ing be­cause of the shame and stigma at­tached to it, yet those seek­ing help at the SBCWC can sit to­gether as a com­mu­nity and know that some­one cares. Dur­ing this time, bonds are formed and re­newed. “In ad­di­tion to three meals, we have four teatimes ev­ery day, which al­lows for a spe­cial kind of love and sup­port to be shared,” Ber­na­dine ex­pands.

On the ad­min­is­tra­tive front, fi­nan­cial man­ager, Shumeeze Jo­haar­dien, has the chal­leng­ing task of keep­ing the cen­tre eco­nom­i­cally afloat. For­tu­nately, the SBCWC re­ceives food do­na­tions from Blue Rib­bon, Wool­worths and the Robin Good Ini­tia­tive [an or­gan­i­sa­tion that sup­plies food and other re­sources to lo­cal char­i­ties in an at­tempt to aid them in pro­vid­ing for their com­mu­ni­ties], and there are also some in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions from mem­bers of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Sadly, the cen­tre gen­er­ally sees more ad­mis­sions over De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, which are mostly due to in­creased eco­nomic hard­ship and a surge in sub­stance abuse over the hol­i­days. In the midst of such stress, Ber­na­dine and her team try to make the fes­tive sea­son spe­cial at the SBCWC. The New Year’s Eve braai is es­pe­cially im­por­tant. As Ber­na­dine says: “New Year, new start. We cel­e­brate this time of the year to re­mind mem­bers that peo­ple care about them; that they are valu­able and that, in this con­text, change is pos­si­ble.”

SBCWC DIREC­TOR, BER­NA­DINE BACHAR.LEFT & RIGHT: SOME OF THE COM­MU­NI­CA­TION STRATE­GIES THE CEN­TRE USES TO RAISE AWARE­NESS AGAINST ABUSE

SBCWC’S EARLY CHILD­HOOD DE­VEL­OP­MENT CEN­TRE HOW YOU CAN HELPThe SBCWC al­ways ap­pre­ci­ates do­na­tions of baby for­mula, nap­pies, tooth­paste, tooth­brushes, non-per­ish­able food, sta­tionery and clean­ing ma­te­ri­als. Mon­e­tary do­na­tions are also wel­come and can be made out to:Saartjie Baart­man Cen­tre for Women and Chil­drenFirst Na­tional BankBranch code: 201509Ac­count num­ber: 62028179415

THE SBCWC TEAM FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: FI­NAN­CIAL MAN­AGER, SHUMEEZE JO­HAAR­DIEN; DIREC­TOR, BER­NA­DINE BACHAR; CHEF ACH­MAT AL­LIE AND RES­I­DEN­TIAL PRO­GRAMME MAN­AGER, DOROTHEA GERTSE

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