Action and Acceptance
Since the two children left our house my volunteer work at the project was more structured. Going to the center in the morning, counselling, police stations, fresh cases, old cases, quiet evenings.
Then it became busier again for me since the night call on Friday had been chaotic and there had been a parallel case that was really (emotionally and professionally) challenging.
Some days here are just full of spontaneous appointments, you jump in a car and don’t know if you will be back in one or six hours, you do not know the areas you are going into, you just come along and do the best you can do for the people in that moment and then rush on to the next one.
At the end of days like that I feel like I absorbed a thousand new impressions and respected the people I work with and all the good things they did that day. And then there are days where you just have to wait.
You wait at local authorities for two or four or six hours, all for that one result – an answer from someone, an appointment, whatever it is. I am struggling with that a lot, I cannot wait when I feel like I want just tell them to please do their job or to work faster. But you cannot do that because they will just make you wait longer. All you can do is ask in a friendly way to demonstrate you care and won’t just leave and eventually you might get what you want.
And because of all the waiting you cannot finish all of what you wanted to do that day. It is very hard to get used to that, but a wise person told me “first make sure the child is safe – if it is, you must wait for things to evolve.” So I wait for things to evolve, but sometimes I go home and am not satisfied. I think in Germany I would have done it like this and that, but that is just not how things work here.
It is often nerve wracking but there is no other way than accepting. Still and most important: even if some days bring disappointments and hard stuff to deal with, I haven’t gone home a single day thinking we didn’t help anyone that day. And that again is satisfying and giving me a little peace in this crazy time.
Being at the Vocational Impact project in South Africa feels very weird as the media are reporting nonstop on the incidents in London (which are indeed horrific) while there are things happening here everyday that’s cruelty, even beyond my imagination. But I guess that’s just how it is.
The project frequently visits schools to gives talks on sexual abuse and interactive presentations to inform the children about HIV/AIDS using educational toys designed by the project director and founder. Today I was happy to give a motivational talk.
Visiting the children’s ward of the hospital you see things that make you break down. I had not cried at all until my final week.
A huge respect to all the staff at the project on the ground, for staying strong everyday in order to help. A wise person said “The day you stop crying for these kids is the day you can pack your bags and leave, because you should never ever stop crying.”
Working with the ‘Bear’
The ‘bear’ is a means for victims of sexual abuse to communicate the rape without having to show it on their own bodies. This is essential not only concerning the trauma of the recent abuse, but also since many children in South Africa have been taught not to talk about or touch their private parts.
The “rape bag” includes (amongst other things) two bears -one to work with and one that the child can keep, permanent markers, plasters, tissues, rubber bands, etc. The child uses these tools to demonstrate what happened on the bear.
The procedure requires very sensitive treatment from the trained project staff. After that, the bear is registered and kept for the child’s first appearance in court.
The project is short of all the rape bag items that are necessary to comfort the child after its abuse. The volunteer donation fees paid to Vocational Impact help with funding the project and operational costs.
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