Johannesburg – The National Development Agency (NDA) granted an amount of R300 000 funding to Umtata Women’s Support Centre (UWSC) to implement a Victim Empowerment Programme at King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality in O.R Tambo District municipality.
The programme, led by UWSC, uses an approach called Masiphunge (Let’s Have a Cup of Tea) Women Empowerment Programme (MWEP), which provides a safe space for women to heal and encourage holistic wellness physically, spiritually and psychologically.
As a result, the women who complete the programme are now whistle-blowers of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in their own communities.
The programme specifically targets women living in rural areas, including Baziya, Mpheko, Tabase, Ntshabeni, Msana and Bumbane, and bring them together to share a cup of tea whilst discussing matters that affect their daily lives.
Through conversations, the women share their dreams, pains and achievements.
The UWSC is an Eastern Cape-based organisation founded in 1999 that deals with gender-based violence, women’s human rights, HIV/AIDS, sexual reproduction health and rights, and human trafficking in the area of O.R. Tambo District municipality.
The support centre is the brainchild of Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) that set up the Centre because of approaches from desperate women, police and media reports on crime especially on women, which also affects children.
NDA Provincial Manager, Nokulunga Skeyi said it is through NDA strategic partnerships and an effective capacity building programme that the agency is able to reach disadvantaged communities and contribute to critical causes such as GBFV.
“O.R Tambo district was identified as a hot spot for GBFV, I believe serious work has been achieved through the Masiphunge Programme. It is a pleasure to come and observe the outcome of the programme and we hope to do more in future,” Skeyi said.
Social Worker and Programme Director at Umtata Women Support Centre, Kholiwe Nongauza said the launch of the MWEP brought together, beneficiaries of the programme, and officials from various government departments and stakeholders, including community leaders and traditional leaders led by Chief Thanduxolo Mtirara, as well as the South African Police Services, National Prosecuting Authority and Women Rights International, amongst others.
“Masiphunge Women Empowerment Programme is a powerful instrument that is intended to heal women holistically – mentally, physically and economically by implementing National Development Plan pillars 2, 3, 4 and 5 that focus on various interventions starting with prevention, through the justice system, care and healing and finally the economic emancipation of the participating women.
“We have seen significant changes and growth in all the women, particularly the women of Ntshabeni Village who have even mastered our last module that deals with forgiveness,” Nongauza said.
The Department of Social Development, has also pledged continue support the programmes, and expand it to other villages in the district and beyond.
Self-defence classes are lauded to be one of the additional services that will be included within the programme.