From University to Cape Town: 10 Weeks Later

As I walked into the Rape Crisis office on my first day, I felt out of place, unqualified, and unsure of how I had come to be here, thousands of miles away from home. I had stumbled upon this internship through my university’s website and jumped at the chance for such an experience. I had few to no expectations as to how everything would actually work out. But as I met staff who welcomed me and introduced themselves, those anxious feelings started to dissipate.

Having finished my first year at university as a media studies major, I was hoping to see how the words in my textbook could be applied. Within my major, I focus on advocacy and change which explores how media can be most effectively utilized to create social development and growth. While I have spent ample time reading about topics such as the importance of appealing to a certain audience or the ethics of communication, I was curious to see how these topics would be implemented in a real setting.

At Rape Crisis, I have learned the specific and sometimes delicate nature of finding out what is needed to appeal to one’s audience. Ethical concerns are of utmost importance. At any nonprofit, but especially one such as Rape Crisis that deals with sensitive stories, the human aspect and respect for empathy are a priority. When planning and then helping out at the organisation’s annual Mandela Day event, I was astounded by the spirit and dedication of the community. The good intentions of the volunteers were evident in the time and thought that went into packing care packs for rape survivors to use after forensic examinations. While it can sometimes be tempting to be pessimistic regarding rape culture, events such as this one showed that progress is being made. During my time, I was continually impressed by the level of emotional intelligence at Rape Crisis.

In addition, I was interested to see how the presence of rape culture manifested in contrasting environments: my university and the Cape Town community. Affected by the distinct factors in each community, the issue of rape culture develops differently. However, from what I have learned, I look forward to helping to address the issue of sexual assault on my own campus. While I will be leaving the physical organization, I hope to continue to contribute while I am back in the States.

The experiences I have gained at Rape Crisis have further confirmed my passion for nonprofit work. I have been exposed to all parts of the job, from sitting in the storage room taking stock to being in meetings for the creation of a new campaign. My favorite project while at work was the development of the I ACT campaign. This campaign allowed me to utilize many different skills: creating effective messaging, taking portraits, and envisioning the aesthetics of the website. I look forward to the launch of this campaign and hope that our work will aid in fundraising for counsellors.

Ten weeks later as I prepare to head back to the States, I can’t imagine how I could have ever felt nervous around any of the people at Rape Crisis. Every morning, I look forward to being greeted by everyone in the office. They work with such honest passion that I hope to embody in my own studies and future career. Thank you to everyone who has made my time in Cape Town so memorable.

Rachel Yen

Rachel is currently a second year student studying sociology, media studies, and Spanish at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is interning with the communications team to gain skills in media and nonprofit work.

Mandela Day: 67 Minutes of Impact




The goal of our Mandela Day event was to pack 1300 care packs to be distributed at Thuthuzela Care Centres for rape survivors. The community came together with a determined spirit and gave their time to achieve this goal.

Checklists based on gender and age group were distributed to each individual who packed a care pack. As participants went around to the tables which were stocked different supplies, they checked off each item to ensure that the care pack was properly filled.

Tables were set up around the room, each with a different item to contribute to the care packs. Items on tables included soap, lotion, roll-on, shampoo, sanitary pads, etc. Some items were separated based on age and gender to best fit the recipient’s needs.

After volunteers finished their checklists, they returned their care pack to the final table where the bags were checked and categorized depending on the recipient. The bags for the care packs are hand-sewn by a member of Change a Life sewing project at the Rape Crisis Khayelitsha office which empowers members and provides an opportunity for economic contribution.

After the bags were packed, individuals went to the craft table where they could make a card to be packed in the bags. The table brought together people of all ages to put their coloring skills to use to make beautiful cards.

In addition to the crafting of cards, there was also an opportunity to learn how to crochet and craft “creatures.” The crocheting area gathered women and men together as they learned a new skill and shared stories. After the crocheted items were completed, a tag with a personal message was attached.

Our annual Mandela Day event was a success thanks to your help. The photos above are only a few of many that were taken throughout the day. Look for more to be posted on our Facebook page. Thank you to everyone that helped us reach our goal of 1300 care packs.

Photography by Rachel Yen

Rachel Yen

Rachel is currently a second year student studying sociology, media studies, and Spanish at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is interning with the communications team to gain skills in media and nonprofit work.

 

Help fight violence against women by giving your Mandela Day minutes to rape survivors

Last year was great, let’s make this year even better!

Rape Crisis counsellors offer 24 hour support to rape survivors undergoing a forensic examination in the hours immediately after rape. They treat each case with the utmost seriousness. They give clear information about what will happen next. They allow the rape survivor to make her or his own decisions and then support those decisions and offer emotional support throughout the process. They make sure the person has access to justice and knows what is required of them step by step throughout the journey.

Medical personnel offer treatment to prevent HIV infection, to prevent other sexually transmitted infections and in the case of women, to prevent pregnancy. A detective from a specialist unit takes a full statement.

This is a difficult ordeal to go through immediately after rape. You can imagine how desperate survivors are to have a shower as soon as all these procedures have been completed. That’s why we give each one of them a care pack containing toiletries, a change of underwear and other personal items.  These items are contained in a beautiful bag sewn by rape survivors in our sewing project. As one rape survivor said: “I felt so comforted by the toiletries and I am amazed that someone took the time to create such a beautiful bag just for me.”

TCC 3

On Saturday 15 July we need your help to put these care packs together.  The contents of the packs are all ready and the bags we pack them into have been hand made by our Change a Life sewing project, a group of rape survivors striving for economic empowerment.  We need your help to pack 1 300 bags for women, men, girls and boys. What better way could there be to celebrate the spirit of Mandela Day than by giving your 67 minutes to support rape survivors?

On the day a rape survivor will be telling her story, our director, Kathleen Dey will be talking about the work of Rape Crisis and there’ll be a crafting space where you can make something special to put inside a care pack. Some people make cards while others knit or crochet small hearts to go into the packs.

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Please will you diarise now:

Date:  Saturday 15 July 2017
Time:  10.00am to 15.00pm
Venue:  Rosebank Methodist Church Hall, 2 Chapel Road, Rosebank
(Click here for map to venue) 

Please sign up by clicking here now to let us know that you will be joining us on the day.

Tickets will be sold at the door for R67 each. If you can’t make it, you could sponsor a care pack instead, by clicking here now. Every gesture of support counts in surviving rape. Each care pack costs us R120 to make up. Please use the reference #RCMandelaDay.

Refreshments will be on sale over the course of the day. Please click here if you have a food stall and would like to register to be a vendor on the day or phone Zeenat Hendricks on 021 447 1467.

Thank you for making Mandela Day meaningful by helping to fight violence against women.

Mandela Day Care Pack Drive

Meet Abigail, learn about the work she does, and find out why the care packs we will be preparing on Mandela Day are so important to our survivors.abigail blog post

Rape Crisis: Tell us about yourself

Abigail: My name is Abigail and I’m 32 years old. I’m a Rape Crisis first responder at the Thuthuzela Care Centre in Athlone.

RC: What is your relationship with Rape Crisis?

A: I started with Rape Crisis in 2009, when I did the training to become a volunteer counsellor. Since then I’ve been very involved and active within the organisation: I’ve done training with Stop the Bus, our community outreach initiative where we went out to empower women by educating them about their rights, rape, and what to do; have also helped with training new counselling volunteers and I’m also very active in the Observatory office where I have been a pieceworker, meaning I’ve answered the crisis line, booked client appointments, and offered support to people who call Rape Crisis, informing them about rape and what their options are.

RC: What is the Thuthuzela Care Centre?

A: The Thuthuzela Care centre is a one stop centre where rape survivors go to for forensic examinations and the medical treatment after rape. There is a forensic doctor who does the examination, a nurse, and also a counsellor at the centre. Often the investigating officer brings the survivor to the centre to undergo a forensic examination to collect evidence for the case, but they also receive important medication that prevents HIV, pregnancy and other sexually transmitted infections. Sometimes the investigating officer will also take their statement there. It’s a place for them to go to and receive medical attention and examination after they have been raped

RC: What is a care pack?

A: A care pack contains a washcloth, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, tissues, underwear, and sometimes a snack. We give these packs to rape survivors so that they can shower or bath if they want to after the forensic examination.

RC: What impact does this have upon the survivors?

A: The care pack us shows survivors that we care about them, especially after they’ve gone through this horrific and traumatic experience. For them, some of them don’t even have the means to buy basics like sanitary towels, so we try to help from our side. Being able to wash after the examination and remove the evidence of the crime is very comforting to survivors, and this is possible thanks to the wonderful people who donate care pack items to us.

RC: How can people help and what can they donate?

A: You can sign up and  join our Mandela Day care pack drive. Collect toiletries and join together with us on 18 July to create beautiful care packs to show your support for rape survivors.

We always welcome donations of soap, bodywash, facecloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary towels, underwear and nappies.

We hope you can join us on Mandela Day.

A typical care pack for a rape survivor

A typical care pack for a rape survivor