Finding strength in stories of survival at the Manenberg People’s Centre

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Christine Jansen is the manager at Manenberg’s People’s Centre. She has embarked on hosting a workshop about gender-based violence and invited survivors to share their stories, in a bid to educate each other about GBV and offer support.

Christine has been managing the centre for almost 6 years, but told VK News that she has been working at the centre for 30 years. The parenting programme is an annual initiative funded by the Department of Social Development and allows the centre to offer training to 20 women every quarter.

Past parenting workshops highlighted that most of the women in attendance experienced abuse in one form or another. This is what sparked the idea to incorporate a GBV discussion into the quarterly programme.

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The aim is to create awareness and provide women with the skills to deal with the violence they experience. She added that they wished to help women who are stuck in abusive homes to find their way out.

This quarter’s programme commenced on 1 December with a talk from Waheeba Leonard, who grew up in Manenberg and is a survivor of gender-based violence. Women who attended the workshop and who were brave enough to talk about their situations found the strength they needed to decide to leave their abusive relationships.

“The turning point for me was when I saw how the abuse has impacted my children. I could see myself in them and I remembered what it was like to live in a house where there was abuse. I did not want my children to feel that,” Leonard told the women, reported The Daily Voice.

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A 40-year-old mother of six, also spoke to the publication and said that the session was an ‘eye-opener’. She said she now knew she had options, and places like women’s shelters exist to help women who find themselves in her situation.

“The focus on GBV shouldn’t only happen during the 16 days of activism,” Christine told VK News.

How you can get involved and help the centre 

The Manenberg People’s Centre runs a feeding scheme for people at risk. Their focus is on households at risk, people with disabilities and the elderly. Home deliveries are made to people who are unable to collect the food parcels.

The feeding scheme usually ends on 16 December, but because of impact of the pandemic – the scheme will run until the end of the year.

If you would like to assist with donations, please contact Christine on 021 691 2200.