Boy has this proven true for so many of us in our SWATT TEAMs over the past couple of months! While we are learning how to effectively handle and refer the “bigger”, confidential cases we encounter in our communities, we are realizing how many things go un-noticed within our communities that contribute toward normalizing aspects of sexual and gender-based violence.
Just within our Oasis Zimbabwe team, we have had two instances where team members have suddenly recognized daily occurring practices have required them to confront community to think differently. In the video, Barbra, shares her experience of standing up to the practice of mini bus (aka “kombi”) public transport conductors encouraging teenaged girls come and sit on their laps and using the excuse that they are “helping passengers” when the kombi is full.
Additionally, a team member stopped to address a group of young men who were using sexually explicit language with a group of young ladies who were walking to their lessons, and another SWATT TEAM member confronted a sect leader who began to refer to the body of a child present, as well as engaging the girls mother and other women present in dialogue when they expressed their sentiments that the man’s interest could lead to the possibility of the young girl becoming his wife. She engaged them around the violence and illegality of child marriage, eventually winning them over to recognize the danger the man was actually posing to the child. A good thing, as he was arrested a couple of weeks later.
These and numerous other examples SWATT TEAMs have shared during our training times, have highlighted just how effective our approach to addressing trauma and resulting mindsets is. We are digging deeper, growing more confident, and beginning to see active impact together.
In the last months over 200 community members have participated in the monthly SWATT TEAM trainings, our next training is December 13th, and we anticipate an additional 15 young women (aged 16-24) and a number of their parents/caregivers to join us for the first time.
On November 29th, our CEO participated in an event hosted by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust marking #16DaysOfActivism in which she was asked to present a “Situational Overview of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Zimbabwe” to Members of Parliament. The event which was attended and supported by several partner organisations and supported by the Canadian Embassy and Ambassador, effectively created the space to bring a very real picture of what is happening within communities when it comes to sexual and gender based violence, and to dialogue with Ministers of Parliament about how they can effectively partner to eliminate the large gap between the very strong laws we have in Zimbabwe and the current lack of application of those laws on the ground.
December 7th, in partnership with the area Minister of Parliament and team, we held a training workshop for 55 science teachers and heads of departments for 30 primary and secondary schools and were joined by the District Schools Inspector and his team, had one of our Ministers of State stop by to bring two of her team to the workshop and to fully endorse the work we are doing around addressing issues that cause our girls to drop out of school and increasing their chances of experiencing sexual and gender based violence, child marriage etc. Youth clubs will be initiated at the schools at the start of the 2019 school year, and will engage young boys and girls to bring their voices to the table in addressing those issues.
This week, we are furnishing our first community based safe spot, with the second due to be set up early 2019.
Once again, you continue to be a part of this community movement through your support. Step by step, we are learning, we are growing and we are beginning to thrive! We would be honored if you would share our page with friends, family, work places or organizations who are looking for a great cause to invest in on behalf of themselves, or others for the holidays.
Thank you! May you find the true value in and power of the “small” things this season.