All posts by Language Editor

 

ICGBV and CSW62

This year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is focused on ‘the empowerment of rural women and girls’. It is the first time Ireland has chaired the Commission and it presents an opportunity not only to help forge a more ambitious plan of action to support the empowerment of women and girls in rural contexts, but to do so with knowledge gained from a very broad range of experience in this area.

The Consortium believes that understanding the relationship between addressing GBV and the empowerment of rural women and girls must be central to the outcomes of this year’s CSW session and consortium members’ experience of programming in rural areas provides crucial insight and learning in this area.

The Consortium worked with Dr. Aising Swaine, Assistant Professor of Gender and Security at the Department of Gender Studies on the development of a policy brief which explores these issues GBV in relation to rural women and girls overall inequality. The policy brief describes key approaches and learning for addressing GBV through empowerment programming in rural areas, through examples from the work of members of the ICGBV. It shows that the theme of this year’s CSW is fitting and timely as the rural context often puts women and girls at an increased risk of GBV.

 

Download CSW62 Policy Brief

 

GOAL – Response to conflict affected communities in Diffa Region, Niger

Response to conflict affected communities in Diffa Region, Niger

The scale of violence in North East Nigeria has increased dramatically in the last three years, with Boko Haram now considered the most deadly extremist organisation in the world in terms of the number of deaths they have caused.1 This violence has led to the displacement of more than 2.4 million people in the region, many of whom have now been displaced several times.2 This displacement as a result of violence has compounded the suffering of those in the Lake Chad region, which has already seen great suffering due to climate change and a lack of resources for a population that has expanded rapidly in recent years.3

Women and children make up the majority of the region’s displaced people and UNFPA estimates that a considerable amount of the women who are displaced are pregnant putting them in urgent need of antenatal, maternal and post-partum care. Lack of access, insecurity and underfunding has led to the under provision of basic supplies and this has been exacerbated by the arrival of this year’s rainy season, which caused an increase in diarrheal and respiratory tract diseases, as well as an increase in the incidence of malaria and even cholera. Women, who are often unaccompanied, are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence when going to retrieve water.4

Against this backdrop, GOAL has begun expanding its programme in the Diffa region of Southern Niger, where an estimated 240,000 displaced people have fled over the border from Northern Nigeria. In February 2016 GOAL began the distribution of emergency kits to vulnerable persons in Diffa region, including those who have been affected by the conflict in Northern Nigeria. The kits contain basic essential items- soap, jerry cans, blankets, and mosquito nets – but for some beneficiaries it was the first time they had access to anything like this since they had been uprooted by the conflict.

GOAL complimented this distribution work by working with the local health system. In an effort to strengthen a system that had been stretched to cope with the arrival of vulnerable families, GOAL supported the District Health Office with two additional nurses to provide primary healthcare and midwifery services in the Diffa region, and also provided 2 additional staff for Expanded Programme on Immunisation outreach activities.

1  Institute for Economics and Peace (2015) Global Terrorism Index, p2 
2  Reuters Foundation (2016) Lake Chad Basin is world’s most neglected humanitarian crisis – U.N. aid chief. Available at: http:// news.trust.org/item/20160524181019-53nxy/ 
3  ACTED (2015) In the Lake Chad Region, populations are trapped between climate change and insecurity http://www.acted.org/ en/lake-chad-basin-populations-are-trapped-between-climate-change-and-insecurity 
4  UN News Centre (2016) Niger: UNICEF reports more than 240,000 uprooted from homes in Diffa region. Available at: www.un.org/ apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54284#.V8W4nfkrL-s  


Impact

  • The training provided by the programme and the secondment of nurses in the region helped minimise the potential shock to the health system from the increased demand on services from the high influx of refugees and IDPs.
  • The provision of jerry cans reduced the frequency of water collection and the risks of GBV that go with it
  • Increased reach of the Government of Niger’s cold chain supply for an estimated additional population of 8,000 IDPs and refugees who have settled in the health facility catchment area.
  • The GOAL programme is an example of one that is designed to meet the basic needs of those that have been displaced by conflict, focussing on the most vulnerable. Women’s reproductive health needs are particularly acute in this region right now and the intervention is targeted to support government efforts to meet these needs.

Falmata’s Story

Falmata is a 34-year old mother, originally from Northern Nigeria. Last year the conflict forced her and her daughter to flee from their home village of Chétimari town on North East Nigeria, finding refuge in the small village of Koublé, in the Diffa region of Niger.

Her daughter recalled how one day, she came home from working on the farm to find houses in the village burnt down by Boko Haram. Although their house still stood, Falmata did not feel safe to stay. She also had no information on the whereabouts of her husband. She looked around her home thinking about what she could take, as she could take only what she could carry. After some time, she got news that her husband had been killed by members of Boko Haram. The family now live in a small makeshift house in Koublé, and survive on less than 1 USD a day and help from the humanitarian actors. The kit that she received contains basic items that are essential for her and her family.

 

  Emilie, aged 17 is a participant in Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) activities supported by Plan in Mbaiki community, Central African Republic.

Plan International Ireland – Protecting women and girls from violence and abuse in the Central African Republic

Protecting women and girls from violence and abuse in the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been beset by intermittent conflict for the last 20 years but in the aftermath of a coup d’état in 2013, fighting intensified and took on more ethnic and religious dimensions. By 2014, violence had reached unprecedented levels, displacing entire communities or trapping others in so-called enclaves surrounded by opposing militia groups.1

Gender based violence has been a central facet of the conflict with UNCHR reporting that in 2015, at the peak of the conflict, there were more than 60,000 cases of sexual and gender-based violence registered in the first 10 months of that year.2 That is equivalent to about 100 reported cases a day. In addition, the conflict has resulted in the deterioration of the already weak economy and education system, forcing more women to resort to transactional sex. The collapse of the judicial system in most parts of the country has resulted in widespread impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence.3

The district of Ouham, in the north west of CAR, is one of the most affected areas by conflict, with incidents of militia attacks and inter-communal violence, and some of the highest levels of internal displacement.4 Plan International uses a gender sensitive approach in its programming, recognising that girls are often more vulnerable and at a greater risk of abuse in conflict situations, and the Plan programme in the area of Ouham was aimed at improving the protective environment and educational prospects for girls and boys affected by conflict.

Through the utilisation of Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs) alongside established community based child protection mechanisms, Plan supported and strengthened the community’s capacity to prevent and respond to child protection concerns. Informal community based child protection committees (entitled RECOPE) were established and supported to lead communities in awareness raising, to identify girls and boys with protection issues and to refer them to the relevant service providers.

GBV was discussed with community leaders and RECOPE committees to help communities identify, prevent and support survivors of SGBV, both in domestic and public settings. Communities and individuals learned to prevent, identify, support and refer children traumatised by association with armed groups or at risk of recruitment. Training and support was also provided to local authorities in order to respond to cases of abuse and work with RECOPE committees on preventing further abuse in schools, on the way to schools and in community and family settings.

The programme utilised an integrated education and protection approach which takes into consideration the needs of vulnerable girls, boys and adolescents affected by the conflict in CAR, as well as the protection needs of caregivers and female education staff.

Photo caption: Emilie, aged 17 is a participant in Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) activities supported by Plan in Mbaiki community, Central African Republic.

1 Insight on Conflict (2014) Central African Republic Profile. Available at: https://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/central-african-republic/conflict-profile/ 
2  UNHCR (2015) Human Rights Day: Abuses rife in Central African Republic. Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/5669a3a66.html 
3  Global Protection Cluster (2013) Gender-Based Violence in a Forgotten Conflict: Recommendations for the Central African Republic 
4  Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (2015) Central African Republic IDP Figures Analysis as of 21 August 2015. Available at: http://www.internal-displacement.org/sub-saharan-africa/ central-african-republic/figures-analysis  


Impact:

  • Programme activities contributed to increased safety for children and their caregivers, as well as awareness on how to identify and respond to community protection needs, with a focus on children and their caregivers and taking into account the specific needs of girls and boys.
  • Awareness raising campaigns and peace promoting activities at community levels have helped local communities to prevent further recruitment of children by armed groups and support girls integration into formal schooling. Children and families distressed or traumatised received psychosocial and specialised individual assistance, which helped them rebuild their lives.
  • While there is still a long way to go before significant conflict resolution, peace building components contributed to intercommunal dialogue and mitigation of protection risks. As outlined by one child in a focal group discussion;

“During the crisis, we children all had the idea to be rebels; to revenge our dead parents and our destroyed property – but thanks to this project we have found the path of education and have learned to forget violence”.


Emelie’s Story

Emelie is a young girl aged 17 with a reserved character. She lost her father at an early age and her mother, a subsistence farmer, was merely managing to make ends meet for the family. Emelie grew up with her aunt in a locality called Mbaiki, 107 km from her community where she attended school until she was 10. Following the death of her aunt’s husband, she was forced into marriage at the age of 13 with a young man with whom she now has a daughter.

As a result of violence in the home; she abandoned her husband after 4 years of living together and started farming to take care of her daughter.

Plan International carried out many awareness raising activities on the rights of the child and the importance of child protection during conflict, along with the other activities of the project.

Emelie was one of those who attended the awareness raising activities. After listening to the messages, she decided to join the Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) activities supported by Plan.

For six months, she has been learning new things at the CFS. As she declares:

“ I have got new ideas from the CFS activities. As you can see, I did not know how to knit before. I learnt this through our animator at the CFS. Another thing I learnt at the CFS is to forget about the terrible things that happened to us during the conflict. I was full of rage and have always thought about vengeance, but after the discussion on how to live in peace with one another, the rage I had has disappeared”.

Defence Forces Ireland
 

Defence Forces Ireland – Gender Perspective in Operations

Gender Perspective in Operations

The Defence Forces (DF) are fully committed to the  principles and practice of UNSCR 1325, the Women, Peace and Security agenda, and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Tolerance on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Bulletin (October 2003).

The steps taken by the Defence Forces to include a gender perspective are comprehensive. The Defence Forces employ a Gender Advisor in its Headquarters who is responsible for the overall education and implementation of a gender perspective in all military training and operations. Gender Advisors are also located in each Brigade and Formation and are responsible for overseeing that a gender perspective is implemented within their area of operations. All induction and career courses include a Gender Perspective Brief which includes material on gender equality, UNSCR 1325, Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA).

Pre-Deployment Training

Mandatory pre-deployment training features lessons on SEA which includes a UN video ‘To Serve with Pride’, and standards of behavior on UN, NATO and EU missions. Troops are provided with a Tac Aide Memoir on Codes of Conduct for Blue Helmets and a DF Code of Conduct. Pre-deployment training culminates in a ten day Mission-Readiness Exercise in which GBV scenario based training is incorporated. The training and education delivered by United Nations Training School Ireland (UNTSI) includes: Gender-Based Violence, Conflict Related Sexual Violence, the Implementation of a Gender Perspective into the Operational Planning Processes, and establishing specific gender-related functions for troops on the ground, such as training gender focal points (GFPs) prior to overseas deployment.

Military Operations

Adopting a gender perspective is no longer an optional add-on for the military commander, it is now an operational imperative. Security assessments, plans and analysis must include thorough considerations of women’s contributions to community resilience, sustainable peace, and local security. The framework of UNSCR 1325, a central pillar of which is ‘Protection, Relief and Recovery’, provides a policy background and helpful starting position for this approach. Women and girls, their needs, their participation, their experiences, their strengths and their voices are key to achieving sustainable and durable peace in countries ravaged by conflict and war. At all stages of the planning process and operations a gender perspective in peacekeeping is vital if interventions are to be relevant, effective and responsive to the needs of women and girls, boys and men.


Women, Peace and Security: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325

Adopted in 2000, UNSCR 1325 recognises the adverse disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls, as well as their role in conflict prevention, peace negotiations, peacebuilding and governance.

The resolution calls on member states and all parties to armed conflict to adopt a range of recommendations including:

  • Take special measures to protect women and girls from violence in armed conflict, particularly sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Take special measures to protect women and girls from violence in armed conflict, particularly sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Reaffirm and emphasise the important role that women play in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and peace-building.
  • Consider the special needs of women in girls in designing and administering refugee camps.

The resolution has since become an organising framework for UN organisations and Peacekeepers, nation states and NGOS around the women, peace and security agenda, which focuses on advancing the components of resolution 1325. As of May 2016, 60 nations have created a National Action Plan on implementing UNSCR 1325.

Gender in Naval Operations in the Mediterranean Sea

Responding to increased numbers of people fleeing conflict across the Mediterranean, the Irish Navy has conducted an ongoing search and rescue mission in the region since 2015. Prior to deployment, gender focal point (GFP) training was carried out with 6-8 members of each ship’s crew. GFPs are briefed on their role and responsibilities under UNSCR 1325 and associated Security Council resolutions on Women Peace and Security. They receive information on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and what to look out for when dealing with migrants, many of whom are vulnerable. They
are also given a brief to disseminate to the entire crew on the zero tolerance policy with regards to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse employed by the Defence Forces. The ship capacity must also take into account family units, wash facilities, sanitary needs and cultural/religious norms.

 

Irish Aid – GBV prevention and response efforts

GBV prevention and response efforts: from policy to action at the local level.

Preventing and responding to GBV is a core priority of the Irish Aid programme, and is at the centre of its work to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Ireland’s policy on international development, ‘One World, One Future’ (2013), recognises that GBV is a major abuse of human rights which undermines victims’ health, well-being and livelihoods.  Ireland’s Humanitarian Assistance Policy (2015) reiterates Ireland’s commitment to addressing GBV and recognises the particular vulnerabilities and needs of women and girls in emergencies, noting that attention to gender must be an essential part of every humanitarian operation. Ireland is committed to continuing to play an active role in research, policy development and funding to address GBV.

Irish Aid works closely with civil society organisations and governments on GBV issues in many of our key partner countries. At a global level, Ireland supports the UN Women-administered Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. The Government of Ireland engages in international advocacy to raise awareness on gender equality and the importance of protecting women and children in emergencies. For example, Ireland is a member of the Call to Action and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade plays a lead co-ordination role in the implementation of Ireland’s Second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

One important piece of work in recent years has been the effort by humanitarian actors to challenge the myth that GBV is an unavoidable part of conflict, thereby ensuring that efforts to tackle it are put in place. Important learnings from our partnership with the International Rescue Committee have fed into flagship advocacy reports such as “Are we there yet?” This paper has been used in key international fora, including at a 2015 EU Council working party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) meeting. The paper helped to advise Member States on the importance of preventing and responding to GBV in emergencies; and in advocacy efforts to engage EU countries to join the Call to Action. The Government of Ireland played a prominent role in ensuring the views of Irish humanitarian stakeholders were considered in the World Humanitarian Summit, advocating for the inclusion of women and girls as a standalone outcome.

Other aspects of Irish Aid’s efforts in this area focus on targeted funding for NGO programming on GBV in emergencies and deployments of specialised gender and protection capacity – through Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps, Gender Standby Capacity Project and Protection Standby Capacity Project. We work with a range of government and civil society partners at community, national and international level to tackle both the causes and the effects of GBV, and to ensure that policies are in place and are implemented. Our work aims to build awareness of the rights of women and expand women’s engagement in the economic, social and political spheres.  It also seeks to engage men and boys on gender related issues.

We also support organisations that help survivors of GBV. For example, we provide funding directly to the members of the Irish Consortium on Gender-Based Violence who operate GBV related programmes in over 45 countries, as well as supporting response and prevention work through our strategic multi-annual partnership with the International Rescue Committee.

Irish Aid, through its partnership with NGOs, supports community-based approaches, where women and girls play a key role in the design of GBV interventions, while at the same time building the skills, knowledge and capacity of local actors and early responders in GBV preparedness and response techniques.  Such work includes community- led advocacy work, awareness raising and identification of community safeguards to increase safety and security for women and girls. Response activities, for example those implemented by the International Rescue Committee, ensure the establishment of GBV survivor-centred services within the community. These services include identification of safe spaces for survivors and mapping of referral pathways and protection services so survivors are informed on the best course of action available to them. It also includes training of health professionals so they can correctly respond to the needs of GBV survivors, and the provision of case management and psychosocial support services to help survivors with their overall wellbeing.

ACTIONAID HELLAS
 

ActionAid Greece – Women Friendly Spaces

Adapting to changing needs in Greece

The increased restrictions on refugee movement in Europe in 2016 mean people are spending longer periods in overcrowded transit locations. This has led to a progressively deteriorating humanitarian situation with regard to women’s vulnerability to sexual assault and exploitation in overcrowded camps.1

In response, ActionAid Hellas has established women centred protection programmes on Lesvos island and in Schisto and Skaramangas camps in the Attica region around Athens. The programmes in each site have been adapted to reflect the needs of displaced women that are staying for a prolonged period of time in the camps. The issues identified include an increased risk of GBV linked to the lack of privacy in overcrowded collective shelters, disintegration of family and community networks, and insufficient income to meet basic needs. Many women have also experienced sexual or gender-based violence during transit or at their point of origin. There are also significant cultural, language, and administrative barriers in accessing services from health services to legal services.

Women Friendly Spaces

The programme provides psychosocial support to women facing trauma as a result of the conflict they fled, their journey and their displacement. In specially designed women friendly spaces, services offered are:

  • A protected environment where women can share their problems and gain respite.
  • Psychological first aid, including individual case management and referral through social workers, psychologists, and interpreters as well as group counselling.
  • Distribution of dignity kits.
  • Referral for medical, legal, and shelter assistance.
  • Social mobilisation and resilience building activities including interpretation, information, initiatives to build resilience and help people cope through skill building activities such as language lessons, financial literacy, crafts etc.

1  Guardian Article ‘Prisoners of Europe’: the everyday humiliation of refugees stuck in Greece. Published: 7/9/16. Available at: www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/06/prisoners-of-europe-the-everyday-humiliation-of-refugees-stuck-in-greece-migration


Impact

Since heavy restrictions on refugees’ onward travel through the EU were put in place this year many refugees have become stranded in Greece. In this time, the project has impacted the most vulnerable women’s lives by providing protection, psychosocial support and a chance to access services and information that due to their circumstances they did not have access to.

  • Over 1,500 individual women visited ActionAid’s Women Friendly Spaces in both locations in that period.
  • 3,700 psychosocial sessions including Psychological First Aid sessions were held in that period.
  • Over 900 referrals and referral follow-ups were conducted to services outside the camps.
  • 797 women participated in empowerment activities

The Arts and Crafts activities on Lesvos culminated in an exhibition by the women of their work in the square of Mytilini town, while in Attica a play was written and performed by the Afghan women of Schisto camp describing their journey and experiences. Titled “The Journey Continues”, it was performed for the public as part of the “European Cultural Days” festival organized by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports. Some of the programme participants reflected on their situation in the camps.

Through implementation of this programme, Action Aid has identified the following lessons learnt:

  • The importance of a flexible approach that allows a programme to adapt to changes in context, particularly tailoring the programme to emerging needs such as higher demand for psychosocial support.
  • The need for well established relationships with host authorities and civil society.
  • The importance of co-operation and co-ordination to address challenges such as overcrowding and shortage of space and inconsistencies in service delivery.

“The atmosphere changed after you came and we started with the activities and the groups. You are looking after us. My husband at some point decided that we will go back to Afghanistan. This is when I tried to take my own life. Now at the ActionAid sessions we talk about our burdens and we unload our souls…No one cares about Afghans and what is going on in my country. I have seen decapitations with my own eyes. There is a secret war for 30 years in Afghanistan and no-one cares.”

– Afghan woman, Schisto camp, Attica Region, Greece.

“Life in the camp is very hard. One day is like a lifetime. We want to feel our humanity and to have our respect.”

– Syrian woman, Kara Tepe Camp, Lesvos

“We have a team here. We talk amongst us, what our situation is here. It helps us a lot.”

– Afghan woman, Schisto camp, Attica Region, Greece.

 

Irish Red Cross – Addressing GBV in Dadaab Refugee Camp

Work to address all forms of Violence in Dadaab Refugee Camp, with a focus on GBV

Dadaab is known as the largest refugee camp in the world, with over 330,000 refugees hosted at a site in the North East of Kenya.1

In 2011, the Kenya Red Cross Society took over the coordination of two of the biggest camps in the Dadaab refugee complex. In the sprawling camps, home to 80,000 people, women and girls are at a significant risk of GBV.

The Kenyan Red Cross, supported by the Canadian and Irish Red Cross Societies launched a violence prevention initiative in the two camps in 2013. The project worked with the refugee community to create an environment free of violence, to deal with violence when it arose in the camp and help change attitudes and practices towards violence. The project also targeted staff and volunteers working in the camp to help them review and where necessary revise their practices and services regarding gender-based and interpersonal violence.

“We went block-by-block in the camp working with fellow refugees to organise self-protection committees, establish male-led non-violence clubs and create safe spaces for women” – Mary, a refugee from South Sudan and Kenya Red Cross volunteer.

1  UNCHR (2016). As of July 31st 2016, the number of registered refugees at Dadaab was 338,043 Available at: http://data.unhcr. org/horn-of-africa/region.php?id=3&country=110


Impact

Through information dissemination to the community on violence, referral mechanisms, and clinical care for rape survivors, the community is now more aware of their rights and where to seek help.

The programme also worked with the authorities, armed and security forces and other weapon-bearers to ensure that these actors respect, promote respect for, include and implement the norms of International Humanitarian Law and other internationally recognised standards relating to sexual violence in armed conflict.

Three years after the programme started, an independent review showed incidents of violence had fallen by 77 per cent and more than 80 per cent of those taking part had changed behaviour linked to violence.

 

Christian Aid and Partners Responding to GBV in DRC

Response to GBV in Shabunda and Mwenga, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to endure what is one of the most protracted humanitarian crises on earth. While sporadic violence and pronounced humanitarian need is found across parts of the DRC, the eastern part of the country remains most affected, with more than 1.6 million IDPs, mostly fleeing violence and armed conflict.1 This ongoing violence in eastern DRC exposes women, men and children to GBV and other protection related risks. Every month, more than 200 women and girls are sexually abused in Shabunda and Mwenga.2

Christian Aid, through its partner SARCAF, are responding directly to this widespread exposure to GBV in the region. The response is multi-faceted and holistic, providing: initial psychosocial first aid; counselling services; logistical and financial support for medical follow up; and economic and legal support in the latter stages of response.

Programme Components & Impact

  • Psychosocial support in Listening Houses: Small rooms in houses are used to receive and counsel survivors and provide a safe space to protect survivors against reprisals from perpetrators and to prevent stigmatisation. Each counselling centre has a psychosocial assistant or a focal point trained on psychological care for victims of GBV.
  • Medical Support: Hospitals with the capacity to provide care for survivors of sexual violence are only present in larger cities in DRC. If survivors require medical follow up, the programme supports them by paying the transport and food costs and a relative to accompany them if necessary.
  • Economic and Reintegration: Over 70% of survivors of sexual violence in the region are abandoned by their husbands and forcibly removed from their families, exacerbating their trauma and poverty. However due to education campaigns and survivor reintegration efforts, this has decreased from 95% 4 years ago. In more extreme cases, a psychosocial assistant organises family reconciliation mediation. The programme provides training on income generating activities and establishes microfinance groups to help members save and access credit. Survivors have found that economic activity has helped them to re-integrate into their families and communities.

This approach illustrates the value of a comprehensive response to GBV that considers the most effective ways of addressing survivors’ needs in the timeline after they have experienced sexual assault. It highlights the need for robust medical and psychosocial support but also the sometimes overlooked necessity of having economic and other social supports to help minimise the ongoing effect of GBV and the continued suffering of women’s a result of sexual assault.

1  UNOCHA (2016) DRC – Overview of the humanitarian needs in 2016 (French) p3
2   Extrapolated from 2015 UNHCR protection monitoring report 2015, which reported that 3000 cases of sexual violence occurred in all South Kivu.


Cecilia’s Story

Cecilia, 40 years old, came to the SARCAF office, Shabunda counselling center in February 2016, asking for help. She told her story to the psychological assistant who received her. In June 2015, more than 15 men from an armed group attacked her house and demanded money. 5 men raped her and four others raped her daughter while others took and destroyed the property she had. Cecilia fled to seek safety but on the way her daughter died from her injuries. Cecilia buried her daughter at a local church in Shabunda. She arrived at SARCAF with her three remaining children, all hungry and distressed. After the psychological assistant listened to her story and provided her with immediate psychological first aid, he referred her to the general hospital. She spent more than 3 months in Shabunda hospital receiving treatment for injuries and infections. Cecilia joined the micro-finance and savings group in her neighborhood and received financial support. She decided to invest in sewing. Her husband has still not returned but she is managing to feed her children every day and is planning to send them to school.