Fighting child abuse and violence in rural communities

THE upsurge in cases of child abuse throughout the world is one of the challenges that humanitarian organisations try to root out among communities.

The Umvoti branch of World Vision SA (WVSA), which has an office in Greytown, focuses on child protection, advocacy, education and community engagement and sponsorship projects.

WVSA started operating in 1967 and is part of World Vision International — a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice (www.wvi.org).

National Citizen Voice and Action Coordinator for WVSA in Umvoti, Ntombiyenkosi Nkosi, said: “It is a humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to [help them] reach their full potential by tackling root causes of poverty and injustice regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

“WVSA currently operates in six of the nine provinces, namely KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo.

“WVSA operates through a model called Area Program (AP), which is a long-term initiative located within a geographical area with multiple sources of funding.”

The Greytown office is part of the Umvoti Area Program (AP). The AP integrates transformational development, humanitarian emergency affairs and advocacy.

Nkosi said the APs have a lifespan of a specified number of years to transform lives in a particular area and then they move into another community or area.

The Umvoti AP was established in March 2008 and will be phasing out by the end of September 2020.

The Greytown office launched a programme called “It takes a World to End Violence Against Children” at eShane, a few kilometres away from Greytown, recently.

Nkosi explained: “[The] ‘It Takes a World to End Violence Against Children’ [programme] is a five-year campaign that promotes multi-sectoral collaboration in changing attitudes, social norms and traditional behaviours that perpetuate violence against children and ensures effective implementation of relevant policies and commitments.

“It is about putting our full weight behind ending violence against children and leveraging resources and the good work that World Vision Umvoti AP and stakeholders are doing to contribute to child protection issues to ensure sustained change.”

The launch was about formally introducing the campaign, which started in 2017 and will be phasing out in 2021.

The launch aimed to mobilise stakeholders and partners; such as government departments, NGOs, churches and individuals; to work with children in catalysing change, raising awareness and driving courageous and effective action to end violence against children.

“The theme is “#Masibike”; Kubiza mina nawe ukulwisana nokuhlukunyezwa kwabantwana. It is a call to everyone to collaborate with World Vision Umvoti AP in strengthening prevention and response measures to address violence against children.

“We also mean to create an environment conducive for children to demand implementation of policies, laws and commitments, including the SDGs, to end violence against children,” Nkosi said.

The organisation believes that HIV/Aids prevalence among communities continues to be a challenge in societies. This prompted members of the organisation to offer healthcare services to the community in a bid to spread the word about HIV prevention.

Although the services phased out, the organisation is adamant about bringing change to the community.

“We previously had HIV/Aids, health and nutrition projects whereby several interventions were implemented, such as training of home-based caregivers,” Nkosi said.

Caregivers were provided with home-based care kits; weight scales (for growth monitoring of vulnerable children), facilitated support groups for people living with HIV and Aids, and facilitated the implementation of integrated management of the childhood illnesses programme.

The organisation also collaborated with the Department of Health in promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, immunisation, micronutrients intake, family planning, hand washing and hygiene practices through awareness campaigns and education.

Nkosi said the organisation has built the capacity of clinic committees to understand public health policies and to dialogue with duty bearers for improved delivery of health care services.

“We have a community engagement and sponsorship project whereby each child is visited quarterly.

“There are two existing support groups; Insikayethu and Khuthalani Against Poverty and Aids; that were initiated by the WVSA Umvoti AP while implementing HIV and Aids projects. They have matured as community-based organisations and Insikayethu registered as an NPO.

“WVSA did receive local funding for APs in other provinces, such as one in Limpopo that had a special project funded by KFC.

“Our NGO is currently mobilising local funding from both companies and individual sponsors,” Nkosi explained, adding that the organisation anticipates strengthening its work relations with all government departments as they implement a multi-sectoral campaign.

“It takes a world to end violence against children. We have been continuously working with the Department of Health, Education, SAPS, Home Affairs and Social Development including Umvoti Local Municipality,” Nkosi said.