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SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe

by Oasis Zimbabwe
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SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
temperature ...check
temperature ...check

Alright, so we admit it, we spoke to soon!  We've gone from jokingly referring to how entering into 2020 had not quite met the Jetsonesque flying car expectation of a few decades back in our last report, to the world being locked down and quarantined due to a virus in a matter of months! 2020 is, apparently, 2020 after all! 

Our greatest hope is that you and those you love and get to do life with are well and safe. 

Here in Zimbabwe and in our communities that we love and are doing life with, we too are in indefinite lockdown.  The impact of this crisis’ impacts are disproportionately severe for so many here, however.  For our high-density communities that make up a majority of our work hubs, social distancing is a physical impossibility.  More than one family often occupies just a couple of rooms.  Homes and shelter structures do not have internal running water in these areas, and so community members must queue at communal water points each day.  The idea of using much of this water to consistently wash hands for 20 seconds is difficult one that does not bring comfort to the mother, father, daughter or son who have had to wake up at 4am and stand in line to get a precious bucket or two for the days’ needs.  Simply put, the luxury of protesting confinement, let alone being protected by it, does not live here. 

Most of our families in these areas, led by the women in and assisted by our SWATT TEAMs, survive by operating informal small businesses.  These businesses sustain families’ hand to mouth at the best of times, and as a majority are small sales-based they are unable to legally operate under lockdown with the exception of some regulated informal business types.  Within two weeks of lockdown, starvation, not the risk of COVID19 infection, became the more tangible threat.   

As a team, we are finding creative ways to connect online where we are having to miss each other in person.  Just hearing each other and community, using mobile networks to send out mindfulness tips and exercises, working with our network of teachers and community facilitators to call people in an effort to notice and be able to respond to assist the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.  The truth is, that we very often feel overwhelmed in the face of the need, but our shared motto these days is that we will "See today what our best opportunity is and focus our action, big or seemingly small, around that". Two of our primary goals in this are to identify where we see severe hunger, and to keep checking in on family and household relationships, including abusive situations and sexual gender-based violence incidents where we can to provide emergency assistance and referrals.  Just as in other nations, our  domestic and gender-based violence incidences have increased significantly under the COVID19 crisis, but in survival mode, these cases often get concealed deeply under what is considered to be the more urgent need.  We certainly know that the trauma and mindset work and training that we do under our SWATT TEAMs work is going to need to be ramped up as a part of trauma recovery following this pandemic.  

This GlobalGiving platform is amazing in the way that it allows us to connect, catch up and in ensuring that the money you give gets to us!  This month, we received a grant of US$1,000 from GlobalGiving itself to help us respond to the COVID19 crisis in any way we need to! This means that we have been able to purchase basic food packs for nearly 200 of our most vulnerable of vulnerable families and this week will be able to see at least some of the women we are missing so much (with social distancing of course!), and to have the brief opportunity to see their eyes, hear them, and remind them that they are seen and are not alone.   

Thank you again for your ongoing support. We hope that the realization that you are a part of impacting of all of the beautiful faces we will get to see over the next week will do your heart as much good as it does ours.  It truly is your individual support that is enabling us to keep doing what we do, at present. 

sanitizer...check
sanitizer...check
10kg bag of staple maize meal....check
10kg bag of staple maize meal....check
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Happy New Year to all!  We don't know about you, but many of us recall all of the "progress" we imagined would be present when the year 2020 came around.  There is so much that this new decade holds with our technical developments, our research and learning, our trajectory of medical advances.  Maybe not the Jetsonesque flying cars once imagined, but progressive potential none the less.  While this is true on one hand, we live daily facing challenges that seem not to have been impacted by the advances we see around us.  While many of those challenge areas may be obvious in presenting themselves in the developing world, the reality is that they are present across our global community, and still require our global focus if we are to avoid transitioning into our next decade with their stains still present on us.  The global prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence is certainly one of those challenges.  You, us, and our global community are still needed in a very practical and present way in 2020.  

Our passion and determination to be change through the ongoing work of our SWATT TEAMs is only strengthened as we look at 2020.  While together we have been able to see a movement gather momentum here in the communities we are in, as well as through you who financially enable us to facilitate training and responses, we are ever aware of how much our community referral and support model is needed both in expansion across our areas of current focus and far beyond.  Every day we encounter new opportunity to respond.  Every day we have vision to be able to grow our shared efforts to do so with greater capacity.  The potential, and the desire, is significant with your help in 2020.  

The stain of sexual and gender-based violence may seem like it is too big a challenge, too prevalent to impact with any power.  However, our greatest learning over the time we have been working as SWATT TEAMs, is that the seemingly little things we do within our daily contexts can create huge mindset changes and bring awareness of and action toward breaking down normalization of inappropriate behaviors.  If you have not seen one of our staff and SWATT TEAM members, Barbra, telling her story of how a simple addressing of a common practice in a daily commuter bus resulted in changing the accepted common practice of commuter conductors inviting young female passengers to sit on their laps when traveling home from school in Epworth, at lease for those in the commuter that day, please watch the video (link below).  

In addition to the video, we want to share another powerful change that occurred at community level recently as SWATT TEAM members chose to speak up  Just one more evidence of how the power for change really is in the daily actions we choose.  

The months preceding our rains in Zimbabwe, which have just properly begun in the last 10 days, are excruciatingly dry for the residents of Epworth.  This means families have to travel far and stand in queues that are hours long, late into the night, to get a little water to carry home from a few public boreholes.  It came to the attention of our SWATT TEAM members, a number of whom were in the queues themselves, that women and young girls queueing late at night were being harassed and at times assaulted.  While there were not many other options for gathering water, our SWATT TEAMs did approach the community leaders with their reports and concerns over what was occurring.  The leaders, who are seeing the impact of our community movement and whose trust is increasing in the SWATT TEAMs, took action and set curfew times around the borehole in order to reduce the vulnerability of the women and girls in the community.  

It is these everyday actions and responses that are supporting change and healing for women, girls and families every day.  It is the power of your action in supporting us financially that is supporting change and healing for women, girls and families every day.  

2020 is another year for powerful, everyday actions toward change right where we are, and into expanded opportunities.  Together we can!

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For each intervention our SWATT TEAMs have been able to assist in there is one thing we are consistently aware of, that every one counts, that every opportunity is a privilege, that behind every heartbreaking circumstance is beautiful, valuable life that can see healing.  

For every survivor supported by SWATT TEAMs shown below, we hold on to HOPE that the safe community in each beautiful life, and the light in their eyes will be once again as we do our part. We are proud to show you how we have begun to effectively be the community movement we have hoped to be from the start, but we ask today, as you look at the numbers, that you think with us mostly about each beautiful life behind them. 

As we head toward our holiday season, we are thankful for you and your being a part of this community through your support and giving, and ask that you continue to share this story we belong together in with others who may want to join us.  

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Learning is fun!
Learning is fun!

It seems like a world ago since our last report.  Much has happened and the importance of community and responding together as community has been very present with us.  We hope it has with you also. 

In the midst of the toughest economic times our nation has seen since a decade ago, we experienced Cyclone Idai in our Eastern Highlands region here in Zimbabwe.  A cyclone with devastating effect here, in Mozambique and in Malawi.  Two of our SWATT TEAM members were in Cyclone impacted areas, both managed to stay safe where whole communities were lost and our community is very grateful for that.   In the midst of continuing to assist survivors of sexual and gender based violence, this beautiful community of responders decided that in spite of their own circumstances and increasing struggles with making ends meet in the already high risk areas in which they live, they had much to give.   It took four pick up truck journeys to carry the clothing, blankets and supplies they gathered to be sent to support victims of the cyclone!  

Our Oasis Zimbabwe CEO and another team member, both a part of the SWATT TEAMs, also travelled to assist our Oasis family in Mozambique and to support them as they dealt with the impact of the cyclone on their own lives and yet continued to give selflessly of themselves to help the most vulnerable who had been impacted in the communities in and around Biera.  We were able to provide healing play for children and surviviors within one of the displacement camps, help with food disbursements, and to begin to assist the team with a plan to roll out trauma training and our unique HDP training and expertise which has been so powerful in addressing inhibiting mindsets in our SWATT TEAMs, in thier own context.   Our SWATT TEAM community reached far beyond ourselves, joining in community with others. 

Sadly, this was also a time we reached in toward each other as we lost one of our team and male SWATT TEAM members in a tragic accident.  Community makes us vulnerable, but also makes us able in these times. 

As we continue to respond to sexual and gender based violence where the SWATT TEAMs are based, we are continuing our learning.  We are looking to increase, and our next target is to engage 100 men, including pivitol community leaders, as SWATT TEAM members.  Additionally, we are looking to have SWATT TEAMs in 30 schools this year, empowering youth to be a part of the community of solution in disarming tolerence of sexual and gender based violence.  

We are so grateful for all you have partnered in community with us to achieve.  We humbly ask that you continue to do so, helping us to grow this community of action who understand the value of what you have given, but are growing more and more confident in the knowledge and value of what they are giving.  

Cyclone Idai Displacement Camp
Cyclone Idai Displacement Camp
supporting food distribution to cyclone survivors
supporting food distribution to cyclone survivors
Healing Play Trainee Receiving Her Certificate
Healing Play Trainee Receiving Her Certificate
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Trauma recovery training
Trauma recovery training

We are delighted that 237 community champions and stakeholders have now been trained as SWATT-TEAM members, and momentum continues to grow as we learn together. Here are some of our highlights of the past few months:

Two ‘safe spots’ have been set up in one of the high-risk communities where our SWATT-TEAM members live. These are places where survivors can be assisted by SWATT-TEAMs to access medical care, report crimes and contact safe extended family members. In the past few months 57 people have been supported, including survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child marriage. The majority have been female, but we have also been able to assist some male survivors.

Following Oasis Zimbabwe’s workshop with representatives of 30 primary and secondary schools in December, in partnership with the local Member of Parliament and his team, the schools have implemented SGBV reporting boxes. The schools are also rolling out ‘Youth Learning and Advocacy Groups’, focused on advocacy around keeping girls in education to reduce their vulnerability to SGBV. This includes addressing the need for sanitary ware, and Oasis Zimbabwe has begun to produce washable pads in response to this.

In February Oasis Zimbabwe hosted an intensive training week for 20 SWATT-TEAM members who are teachers in our Early Childhood Development centres. The training focused on trauma recovery and healing play interventions for child survivors. The 20 teachers were supervised to implement five one-on-one healing play therapeutic sessions for 24 children during the week, and have now begun implementing healing play therapy sessions across Oasis Zimbabwe Early Childhood Development centres.

Also in February, the Oasis Zimbabwe team was delighted to host the Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr René Cremonese, as we visited a SWATT-TEAM community meeting in Goromonzi. During the Ambassador’s visit, we were very encouraged when male community leaders stood together in the meeting and publicly stated their support of the SWATT-TEAMs initiative, and the work we are doing together to address SGBV. While Oasis Zimbabwe’s focus has been on training and empowering women and girls to change their mindsets and speak out with a communal voice, we recognise that men have a critical role in reducing the social acceptability of SGBV. We are excited that discussions around traditional gender roles and SGBV prevalence have been initiated with male community leaders through our SWATT-TEAMs.

Thank you once again for your generous support, which is helping to grow our community movement. Please continue to give and share our page so we can reach our $50,000 goal!

Healing Play
Healing Play
Trauma recovery training 2
Trauma recovery training 2
Trauma recovery training 3
Trauma recovery training 3
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Organization Information

Oasis Zimbabwe

Location: Harare, Harare Province - Zimbabwe
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @oasiszimbabwe
Project Leader:
Ashleigh Emmerson
CEO, Country Director
Harare, Harare Province Zimbabwe
$24,277 raised of $50,000 goal
 
139 donations
$25,723 to go
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