April 2022 2nd Edition

Helping women heal

Written by: Silusapho Nyanda

A non-governmental organisation (NGO) is making strides in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.

In 2021, the National Development Agency (NDA) gave the Umtata Women’s Support Centre (UWSC) R300 000 in funding for its Masiphunge Women Empowerment Programme (MWEP).

The programme provides a safe space for women to heal and promotes physical and spiritual well-being. In addition, women are recruited as GBVF whistle-blowers in their communities.

UWSC Programme Director Kholiwe Nongauza says the MWEP, though various courses focuses on prevention through the justice system, care, healing and economic opporKholiwe Nongauza (far right) with the beneficiaries of Umtata Women’s Support Centre’s Masiphunge Women Empowerment Programme.tunities.

“We have seen significant changes and growth in all the women, particularly the women of Ntshabeni village, who have even mastered our last module that deals with forgiveness,” she says.

The programme operates in the villages of Baziya, Mpheko, Tabase, Ntshabeni, Msana and Bumbane.

A fresh start

A former victim of GBV, Sinenjongo Makhanda (39) from Ntshabeni, says Masiphunge taught her how to bake, which enabled her to earn an income.

“Masiphunge came to us and healed us in many ways, even our hearts. We are better and stronger and are healing – the scones we sell after undergoing a baking course are our bread and butter,” Makhanda says.

National Development Agency Provincial Manager Nokulunga Skeyi says the funding that was given to the NGO has made a significant difference in the lives of GBV victims and members of the communities where UWSC is active.

“The OR Tambo District Municipality was identified as a hotspot for GBVF. I believe serious work has been achieved through the Masiphunge programme. It is through NDA strategic partnerships and an effective capacity-building programme that we can reach disadvantaged communities and contribute to critical causes such as GBVF,” Skeyi says.

The NDA is also going to support the addition of self-defence classes, while the Department of Social Development has pledged to continue to support these types of programmes in other villages in the district and beyond.

The UWSC was started in 1999 by members of the Young Women Christian Association, which set up the centre because members were being approached by desperate women in need of help.

Contact the UWSC at 065 947 0543.

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