The healing journey that victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) go on is a long and tough one physically, emotionally and mentally – especially when it’s done without any help and support.
The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children offers a safe space for women and children who have survived GBV. They’ve managed, over the past 24 years, to provide a safe and secure community where women and children are empowered to exercise their full rights. They also have a 24-hour emergency shelter, short and medium-term residential care and childcare services for survivors of GBV.
In doing all they can to help these survivors, they found that healing is best done alongside psycho-social and therapeutic support, including trauma debriefing, individual counselling and group therapy. Most shelters have social workers, counsellors and staff with expertise and passion, but lack the space to hold psycho-social sessions in a dignified, private and aesthetically pleasing environment.
And so the Nikita Lewis Serenity Hub came to life
Thanks to the Naked Difference, we were able to help @KolisiFdn build a safe space for victims of gender-based violence at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children. The library will allow women and children to proceed with healing throughout their stay at the centre 💚 https://t.co/O7FgDlRH2N— Naked (@NakedCover_SA) March 29, 2023
The Kolisi Foundation and The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children put their heads together and brainstormed a space where survivors could come to read, journal, have quiet time, and receive counselling away from the other 140 residents. With the help of partners, including Naked and the Naked Difference, the centre launched in February. The Nikita Lewis Serenity Hub is named after a former resident of the Saartjie Baartman centre who was brutally murdered by her perpetrator after she initially survived. The impact of Nikita’s death was felt heavily by the staff at the Saartjie Baartman centre and they insisted that the library space be named after Nikita, in her honour and remembrance.
“When we look at the majority of GBV victims, we realise that we do not know their names, we do not know their stories, but with this hub, with this woman – we will forever know her name, and her story will not be forgotten. This space allows other women to heal whilst honouring Nikita Lewis,” says Lauren Cunningham, Kolisi Foundation project coordinator.
The centre will have a selection of books to encourage the art of reading but also provide a space where the women are undisturbed and can proceed with healing and restoration throughout their stay at the centre. Mothers can also be accompanied by their young children; there are a bunch of children’s books as well as Lego to keep them busy but also to help the social worker to work with the child.
The Kolisi Foundation and Saartjie Baartman Centre will continue to examine the impact of this space – how many people access the space, what the feedback from staff, women and children are - and study the tangible difference in their healing journey. This will guide them on what improvements they can add in the future. This space will also offer psycho-social support (counselling) to the Lewis family, should they wish to use it.
If you are a victim of violence or know of anyone who is, The Kolisi Foundation have put together a couple of tips to help you start your journey of healing and finding wellness.
The Naked Difference is a direct impact of Naked’s business model and it allows us and our clients to make a difference in communities.
Each year, rather than taking unclaimed money as extra profit, we give it to causes that our customers choose. In 2022, we declared a Naked Difference payment of R700,000! The Kolisi Foundation, being one of our causes that clients have chosen, used their Naked Difference payment to build the Nikita Lewis Serenity Hub.
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