Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Lead SA helps with Comfort Packs
By Lauren Manuel
On 1 October 94.5 KFM and 567 Cape Talk Breakfast Teams took time out to put comfort packs together for child abuse victims housed by Matla a bana. Matla A Bana is a charity project mobilising a Christian response to address the high incidence of child abuse and rape by implementing appropriate reporting, support and intervention programs. It was initiated and managed by the Callie and Monique Strydom Charity Trust which was founded upon the return of Callie and Monique Strydom after a 4-month hostage ordeal in Southeast Asia. At the end of 2002 Monique Strydom was asked to chair a task team that investigated child rape in South Africa. A need for an organization which could address all the grey areas in the child protection system in South Africa arose and the Strydom Trust undertook to address this need. Matla a Bana is a National organization, with predominant focus in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Children that have been abused are often very fearful and experience secondary trauma when needing to talk about the experience to police, Matla A Bana tries to reduce that stress by making the child as comfortable as possible. One of the things they do is provide comfort packs with items necessary to take care of the child after the abuse when they report crimes and both breakfast teams helped put together 100 of these packs. Packs contain underwear, soap and wash cloth, toothbrush and toothpaste, colouring books & pencils, a teddy bear, a snack and soft drink. Around 1000 comfort packs need to be prepared each month for abused children in the Western Cape mostly between ages of 6 and 12 years old. Monique Strydom stated that the “comfort packs provided more than just goods, but also helped develop a trust relationship between the victim and police officer which also made disclosure easier.”
As the comfort packs were handed over to the SAPS, Lieutenant Colonel Tia Van de Westhuizen of the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit expressed huge thanks to Shout and Lead SA for allowing more comfort packs to be distributed. She said “It does not matter how hurt a child is, when you tell them that the pack is for them… You have no idea what a difference it makes to them. Even after many years of doing this, I still have to walk away sometimes”.
Some of their other projects include mobilizing faith based groups, creating child-friendly reporting facilities at police stations, training police officers in “soft skills” to equip them to work with children, training doctors in expert forensic medical examinations which leads to more convictions, offering policeman and citizens rewards for going the extra mile to protect South Africa’s children. They also run unique projects to assist churches and schools to write their own child protection protocols.
You can Lead SA by reporting crimes committed against our children by calling 10111, adopting a FCS unit or court in your area, making donations (Matla a Bana’s Website below) and supporting their fundraising projects.