By Ezrah, Mariëtte Jacobs (Managing Director)
Solving child protection challenges in South Africa is not an easy task, but when organisations come together with a shared vision and strong hope much can be accomplished.
The energetic theme of Ezrah Community Training and Development’s child protection empowerment programme for 2023 was to advance resilience through circles of support.
Reflecting on the year, we celebrate all the collaborative child protection initiatives that were implemented to equip frontline workers with resourceful tools and skills. Here are just a few of our collaborative projects that were implemented during 2023 to create safer communities where children matter.
1. Child Protection Steering Group
Ezrah was privileged to empower our child protection steering group delegates with child-focused skills and mental health strategies. Through seven events presented by expert facilitators, we shared information on the following themes:
Having a strong identity
Online safety for kids
Reporting child abuse, child trafficking, sexual offences and domestic violence
Emotional first-aid tips for first responders
Using humane education to reduce violence in communities
The PERMA well-being model
Promoting mental health awareness
Collectively we also celebrated Child Protection Month in May and Mental Health
Awareness Month in October. Together, through fun-filled activities and meaningful discussions our forum grew together with one heart to put the best interest of children central in service delivery.
“As we are working with kids from different backgrounds and situations, having these trainings equip us to do better and to be able to create a safe space in our organisation. Thank you!” says Siphokazi Silandeli-Maseti, from the Ikamva Foundation.
2. Western Cape Counter Child Trafficking Forum
The Western Cape Counter Child Trafficking Forum is the first counter child trafficking forum in South Africa to advance collaboration between counter child trafficking government agencies and NPOs. Delegates on this forum develop training manuals and collaborate to advance an integrated response to child trafficking specifically through a trauma-informed lens. Ezrah plays a coordinating role on the forum to ensure that the forum’s activities keep momentum.
Marina Reyneke, from the National Freedom Network, says that, “The Western Cape Counter Child Trafficking Forum is incredible and is a role model to other forums, coalitions, and task-teams. Appreciate you and the team.”
3. Collaborative trauma-informed projects
At Ezrah we value trauma-informed work with children and therefore the Ezrah team participated in several trauma-informed projects throughout the year. Ezrah facilitated our BuildSmart Parent Mentoring Programme as part of a trauma-informed strategy for Kayamandi, Stellenbosch. We honour Love to Give and Legacy Community Development for implementing the BuildSmart tools and for sharing valuable lessons that we had taught them.
“The BuildSmart guide is directly to the point and easy to follow up and understand. Wish it can reach more parents and care-givers. It brings back hope that we had once lost and restores a sense of humanity.” - Nomajama Jikela (Senior community care worker from Love to Give)
Another exciting collaborative project was to empower the investigating officers and forensic social workers from SAPS-FCS with resilience skills. This project was hosted in collaboration with Sp(i)eel Arts Therapies Collective, Thuthuzela Care Centre (Paarl) and the SAPS-FCS commanders from the Western Cape Forensic Social Services.
Lastly, we equipped community and church leaders from Orchard Africa with skills to report child abuse and educators from at-risk communities to implement our LEAD leadership model.
Looking ahead to 2024, we have great plans to continue our capacity building work both online and in-person in line with the theme “Resilience through empowerment.” We salute every NPO, government department, ECD, school, network and donor who share this inspiring child protection journey with us. Together we can empower the next generation as leaders of change.
For more information visit https://www.ezrah.co.za/