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

Even in the midst of this globally challenging year, time flies, courage rises, hope does not lose its power, and the struggle continues! 

As I thought about this report and all that we continue to hope and struggle for, I was reminded of a blog I wrote a few years back and it just seemed appropriate: 

"Everything in me pulsed as I watched the scene from the documentary “Reparando” of a native woman named Tita looking out over La Limonada, the Guatemalan slum in which she lived and had started a school. The filmmaker asked Tita about what was apparently assaulting their senses from their vantage point. Her reply was this, “All I smell is hope, and I like it”.  

That, right there, is my “why”.  It is my life driving passion to smell out hope and to dance with it... barefoot wherever possible. It always has been.

Sound like fun? The interesting thing I am learning about pursing hope is that, contrary to the common ethereal perception of it, it is most often a jagged, relentless challenger, not satisfied to leave me shaped the ways I was at first, or last, encounter. It jolts me at every opportunity, never allowing for comfort in my own ability to formulate solution, never hosting my vanity stemmed from privilege or place or the relative means I have to walk wherever I may. Sometimes hope smells like African rain falling on dry ground and when it does, it washes me and I need it. But mostly it stirs up things that stink and when it does, it grows me and I’m learning to love it.

Hope is not about dominating or changing the face of me, of you, of a community, of a slum, of the state of a nation. Hope is about stirring the thrive of a nation, of a slum, of a community, of you and of me. The target of hope has never been to expose who we are or are not in relation to one another. Its target exposes our own “why’s” and challenges ownership of them for our futures and the futures of those we have the privilege to share in.

So, let it stir you. Let it stink. Let it challenge who or what your “why’s” are really about. All I smell in the process is hope, and I like it!"

As I read through this again, the "why" of myself and team, as we smell the hope in the Zimbabwean slum areas we love and are so grateful to walk and inspire hope in every day, became powerful again.  No doubt this year is hard!  Still in lockdown, we have supported as many families, including child-headed homes, as we have been able with food distributions.  We have seen domestic violence increase as the pressures of survival, in these and all of our families, has intensified greatly.  We have had to remind ourselves as community to watch out for and support each other when instinct pulls us in toward self-preservation.  We have had to choose, each day, to embrace the jagged edges of hope.  

May our journey with hope in difficult times stir yours as you take a moment to hear from us today.  As you see our masked faces in the photo's each of our Oasis programming team took of themselves, and as you read the few words written to you underneath those frontline faces, may hope rise for you too.  Let it stir, let it stink, let it challenge.....

A luta continua!

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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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Oasis Zimbabwe

Location: Harare, Harare Province - Zimbabwe
Website:
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Twitter: @oasiszimbabwe
Project Leader:
Asha Emmerson
CEO, Country Director
Harare, Harare Province Zimbabwe
$28,754 raised of $50,000 goal
 
161 donations
$21,246 to go
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