Building a Community of Young Activists

Last month we celebrated the commitment and achievement of our new peer educators from Khayelitsha who came together for their end of year camp. This group of vibrant school learners challenge the myths and misconceptions about rape amongst their peers in their schools and encourage those who are survivors to speak out and seek support. This most recent camp was attended by two students from the University of York, Amy Woodruff and Zaynah Nadeem Khan, who give us their impressions. Throughout my experience at the Birds and the Bees camp, two themes emerged:  the importance of including youth in advocacy and the spirit of community support. The activities led by Rape Crisis facilitators and the peer educators demonstrated the importance of youth working together to a sense of build unity as a foundation for working to bring about change. The excitement of the peer educators was contagious, as they took part in what proved to be a life-changing experience filled with the kind of opportunities that would not typically be available to them. In essence, they were given the chance to do something out of the ordinary while receiving well deserved recognition for their dedication to the peer education programme. 4 In workshops where they reflected on their previous learning, we could see the importance that they gave to the problem of rape, and how seriously they felt about doing their part to address it. In the more physical activities such as climbing the mountain, the peers worked as a team, supported each other and gave a helping hand to those who were finding it tough. The sense of fulfillment they felt after climbing the mountain was an incredible thing to witness. Many of the children said they felt strong, capable and surprised at what they could accomplish together as a team. 1 It was great to see the learners interacting with each other during the ‘Tree of Life’ activity. In this experiential game they gathered objects from the camp surroundings to illustrate their life stories. They were candid and willing to share not only with each other but also with us, which was incredibly inspiring. The camp re-established the pride these learners feel in themselves as leaders in their schools and communities, and added to their motivation to engage in advocacy actions to address sexual violence and promote safety in their schools. It gave them a chance to reflect on their new knowledge and experience, to engage with other youth, and to receive the praise and affirmation they deserve. It was a pleasure to be involved in this project, and I hope the camps continue for many years to come, and that the peer educators carry forward these lessons into their lives and into their communities. 2 Our peer educators perform a key role in the promotion of safety in their schools where rates of sexual violence are so high, and ensure that learners who are survivors have access to information and services and are supported in speaking out. We thank Manyano High School, Bulumko Secondary School, and Kwamfundo High School for continuing to host this programme in their schools. Thank you to MATCH Internaltional Women’s Fund and Oxfam Australia for funding this programme. Oxfam Full Logo Horizontal GreenMATCH

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About rapecrisisblog

We have a vision of a South Africa in which rape survivors suffer no secondary trauma, and are supported throughout their interaction with the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Our mission is to promote an end to violence against women, specifically rape, and to assist women to achieve their right to live free from violence. Rape Crisis Cape Town seeks to achieve its mission through counselling and training of women, thereby reducing the trauma experienced by rape survivors, and encouraging reporting of rape and the conviction of rapists.

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