Gender Links project catalyst for Vivian
Achance enrolment in a government-sponsored initiative sparked Vivian Ramokgopa’s journey of restoration.
Gender-based violence survivor, businesswoman and community activist Ramokgopa is a living example of one who doesn’t allow a tragic past to trap her in misery. Hers is a story of courage and triumph.
According to Ramokgopa her experience was hard but with the support of her mother and other family members, she made it through. She points out that it took years for her to make the changes in her life.
She said her journey of restoration started when the Capricorn district municipality in Limpopo through Gender Links, offered to empower and train people who have been victims of gender-based violence so that they could start life afresh.
“When the opportunity came along, I grabbed and ran with it. At the time I felt ready to move on because my children were grown, and I felt strong [enough] to go through the journey of healing and discovery,” said Ramokgopa enthusiastically.
She is often invited by the district municipality to give talks as an activist and to empower other GBV survivors.
“My message is that one should not allow these [traumatic experiences] to define their future because things do change for the better. I also encourage those who attend these talks to connect with other women so that they can be exposed to the better side of life,” she added.
Today, Ramokgopa is a businesswoman and counsellor working through non-governmental organisation (NGO) Limpopo Spiritual, Chaplaincy, Health and Community Care. “Everyone that’s involved with the NGO is trained to be a counsellor to deal with trauma situations,” she said.
She emphasised that her life has improved tremendously since she participated in the Gender Links project.
“I’m running my businesses. I’m a community spiritual carer, which means that I’m a chaplain in my community and a counsellor,” she said.
A big part of her work is to support GBV survivors with spiritual matters.
She was quick to point out that her work is not aligned to any religion and as a result, she works with people from all walks of life and religious backgrounds.
“Chaplaincy is not about Christianity. To be a chaplain you can belong to any religion. Ours is to speak life into the lives of those in distress.”
“I find that the biggest part of healing is spiritual, which is often neglected. This is the part that you can’t take to the doctor. No amount of medication can mend the soul, hence my passion for helping people mend this side of their humanity.”
She said that people like her are trained to listen with compassion and provide the necessary support in a safe space.
“As chaplains, we collect clothes for the needy, we get support from other organisations and support families and individuals affected by GBV… My advice to women is always speak up. Do not wait until it is too late. Whatever you are going through today, it will not last – all you need to do is to seek help,” she