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Finding the support to change her life around. Mary’s story.

Finding the support to change her life around. Mary’s story.

Mary* had nowhere to go. At seven months pregnant and with a toddler in hand, she needed to get away from her abusive environment. Mary had a difficult life and there were a multitude of factors that led her to the Safe House. She had been emotionally abused by her mother and sisters. An external social worker reached out to Safe House and asked for a place for the expectant mother and two year old.

Once settled in the Safe House she started therapy sessions. She got the VEP program therapy of Restoration and Healing, as well as Attachment Therapy together with her “the mother” and her child. To rebuild the trust and relationship, in order for attachment to grow.

 Mary had to face many personal challenges, but trust was her biggest issue.  Also: basic administration duties like registering your child after birth…we work on these challenges on a daily basis.

“I have learned to be a better mother. I’m going to go and find myself a job so that I can get all my children under one roof.” – Mary’s words.

Mary is still currently at the the Safe House and has one month left to stay. She is a loving person and we hope and believe that when he leaves the Safe House she will stay true to herself, focus on her dreams and Individual Plan as well as focus on what is the best for her children.

We believe in her.

*Names have been changed for the resident’s protection.

Safe House is a place of safety for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence. We rely on donations and support from volunteers. If you would like to pledge a monthly amount and make a significant difference in the lives of the women who find themselves all alone and with nowhere else to go, then please become a Friend of Safe House.

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Posted in Success Stories

We Need Your Help!

We Need Your Help!

Could you assist us with any of the following please? We need these items for the daily running of our shelter.

Email: Charlene –


We also need milk, coffee, creamer, tea, cool drinks, cereal, , peanut butter, jam, sugar, salt, pepper,  loaves of bread, and pasta.  We can also accept some quantities of perishable goods such as polonies, viennas, cheese and eggs are items we could use as well.

Cleaning needs include bleach, laundry & dish detergent, soap, window cleaner, trash bags, food storage bags and containers, brooms, mops, dust pans, dish rags and towels.

Office needs include copy paper, envelopes, postage stamps, file folders, sheet covers, and computer items such as memory cards, flash drives, highlighters, pens, pencils, paper clips, rubber bands and tape.



More and more qualified youths are looking for jobs but have no luck finding any because of their lack of confidence or experience, or because they do not know where to find the right business opportunities.

The Safe House is in need to of businesses to help our unskilled residents a career kick-start by helping them present themselves better and achieve their goals.

Being informed is the key to success, so skilled volunteers need to share practical advice about employment; lifestyle and fashion tips for the young person who has just started working or is looking for a job.

The volunteers must share practical information on internships, learnerships, bursaries, apprenticeships and small-business programmes and events organised by government departments and agencies, companies and corporate foundations.

You’ll also find features about the work lives of young people from different industries, to illustrate how they overcame obstacles in their own lives to pursue their dreams.

Work and learn from a skilled professional

If you are truly inspired to teach your skills to unskilled women, why not apply to become an Skills training Volunteer Apprentice?

We can can only accept volunteers willing to commit to at least 1 month of full time involvement.

Suitable candidates will be trained in the art of Urban Harvesting via first hand experience, and then excellent candidates will be offered the opportunity to grow the Urban Harvest brand nationwide.

Send me a message to tell me why you are a suitable Urban Harvest Volunteer Apprentice;

“Let’s Grow Together”



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Posted in Articles, Success Stories

Spotlight on Human Trafficking – Interview with a Survivor

Spotlight on Human Trafficking – Interview with a Survivor


*Samatha was a victim of human trafficking when she was a teenager. She was a victim of child abuse. The man that abused her was a close and trusted family friend. Samantha was sold for profit into child sex trafficking. Trafficked by the trusted adult who used sexual, and psychological abuse to maintain control over Samantha, she found it very difficult to seek help. Today, Samantha is a survivor of human trafficking who shares her story of healing and how she copes with the lasting effects of her experience. Today, Samantha is a survivor of child abuse and sex trafficking.


*Samantha is her alias name.


Q: What has it been like speaking out as a survivor of trafficking?

A: It is hard to talk about being trafficked. I still get very emotional talking about my past. I have watched movies about human trafficking and the girls get shipped to another country. I was traffic in my own country and I did not even know I am traffic. I though as myself as only a prostitute. These days I speak to my therapist and share only parts of my past because it is not easy sharing my experiences.

Q: Will you tell us a little bit about your relationship with the man who trafficked you and why it was so hard to break free?

A: The man who trafficked me was like a father figure to me. He was a family friend and was always very kind. He was easy to talk to and I confided in him. I shared with him all my pain and fears and he listened to me and took care of me. I was diagnosed with mental illness and he would take me to appointments at the hospital.

My family was financially benefiting from me working as a sex worker and I felt obligated to keep working. I had one lady friend from church. I was allowed to attend church on Sundays. One Sunday I was crying the whole time and I shared with her that I am working as a sex worker. I was very afraid to talk to her because I knew if I share this to her, my family will not get their money. This is exactly why it was so hard to break free.

human trafficking survivor Safe House Stellenbosch

Q: Will you share with us some of the emotional and physical effects you’ve experienced as a result of your trauma?

A: I was a victim of child abuse. I live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); bipolar, major depression and borderline personality disorder. All of these are a direct result of the trauma I experienced.

Q: After you first escaped, how did you cope?

A: I am enslaved by the post-traumatic effects of my trauma. I did not cope well. I feel a tremendous amount of shame and guilt. I had a lot of sexual urges the first few weeks when I was in the place of safety. I was so used to having a lot of sex that I was craving it. Thankfully, over time and through my work in therapy, I recovered from those overwhelming form of urges.

Q: Will you tell us about your path toward recovery and what’s helped you?

A: My path forward started off very rocky. It took a life-changing turn after entering therapy with a therapist.  Also, meeting other survivors of abuse has been very helpful. The new friendships and support has helped me immensely on my path toward healing.

Q: After someone hears you speak, what do you hope they learn?

A: I want them to know that there is help to overcome and grow past their trauma. I want them to learn that they have a lot of value and self-worth. You might feel worthless to one person, but you are priceless to another.


Safe House Stellenbosch is a Not for Profit place of safety for women and their children who escape domestic violence. We would benefit greatly from any contribution you could make. Make a donation. Volunteer.

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Posted in Success Stories

One of our House Mothers Shares her Safe House Journey

This post is in Afrikaans, as it is the mother tongue of the writer. She talks about how she herself was a resident of Safe House, before transitioning into part time and then full time employment as a house mother at Safe House. Today she uses her own experience and life story to comfort and inspire the women in her care. 


Ek en my man het saam groot geword, ons het op dieselfde dorp gebly. Hy het weggetrek van die dorp en ek het hom baie jare later weer ontmoet en ons het uitgegaan as boyfriend en girldriend.

Ons het ons eerste kind gehad en 7 jare later het ons getrou.

Hy het altyd nee gesê ask ek wil uitgaan. Hy het amper nooit toesteming gee dat ek uit moet gaan nie. In die begin het hy my altyd gevloek en later aan het hy my begin slaan.

Dit het baie jare geneem voordat ek vir myself sê, ‘tot hier toe en nie verder nie!’.

In 2009 het ek het my skoonsus gebel en sy het gese ek moet vir ACVV bel om my te help. Die ACVV het my nie nommer van die Safe House gegee en ek het onmiddelik gebel en met die maatskaplike werker van die Safe House gepraat. Dieselfde dag was ek opgeneem in die Safe House.

Ek het ook die polisie gekontak en hulle het my man gearesteer.

In die Safe House het ek so baie geleer soos hoe om boundaries te stel vir myself. Ek het n sterker mens geword in die Safe House en het ook Christelik gegroei. Dit was ‘n 2de kans in die lewe wat ek gekry het toe ek na die Safe House gaan bly het vir 7 maande.

My man het hulp gekry en het opgehou drink. Toe ek terug gaan huis toe, was allles anders. My kinders was oop daardie stadium in graad 8 en 5 gewees.

in 2012 het ek as naweek aflos huisma gewerk by die Safe House en in 2013 was ek voltyds aangestel as huismoeder.

Die beste ding om n huisma te wees is om n ma te wees vir die vrou wat nou bly in die Safe House. Ek is daar vir elkeen wat verwerp voel en skep n diep vriendskap met elkeen wat hier inloop. Dit betenken baie vir my om terug te ploeg in die vroue.

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Posted in Success Stories

A Moving Letter from a Resident

A Moving Letter from a Resident

We were deeply touched by this letter from one of residents who left us. Always, we feel humbled by the work we do, and to the writer of the letter, we’d like to say: You touched our lives as much as we did yours. Wishing you every blessing in your future.



This is my thank you to everyone who helped me with my healing for the past 4 months – while here at the Safe House my life did really improve. Now I am a better person today because of the Safe House, I am ready for my new join in life and I want to second in life for my children sake… I want to thank the manager of the safe house for the struggle, strength of working hard not giving up on the Safe House for all these years. She worked hard to save our lives and making sure that we eat, are happy, wearing clothes. I thank her for the love she gave us. As a black woman, I never saw a white woman who eats, sharing, laughing with all of us, loving us the same way. I want to thank the skills trainer for the job that she organise for me. The CV she wrote, for teaching me how to face the life, how to talk, handle problem, how to budget, hugging making sure that I have toiletries, good clothes I want to thank the social worker for my healing. I am healed because of your therapy. I am healed mentally, physically and emotionally. Thanks for all the sessions. I have learned a lot, now I know. No man will abuse me again or ever, no is no, enough is enough.

I am very strong now to face the future. I am brave to finish my course with you, now I love myself more than ever. Now I know how to look myself in the mirror and see a beautiful woman. Thank you Safe House. The white house of joy happiness, dreams, success, change and peace: Safe House, I thank you, you’re the house of saving lives and a house of God. I want to thank the donors: thank you for donating food, clothes, toiletries, furniture, blankets and toys for our children. Thank you for everything. May God Almighty bless you all keep on giving for those who do not have. Thank you, thanks to the housemothers. Thank you for your care. Caring is love.          

Thank you for crying with us, praying with us, listening to our problems and giving us a solution. Sorry, for giving you all stress because we come to the Safe House sick. When we go mad, crazy, rude, screaming with our kids. Swearing all sorts of abuse and sickness, housemother, you are there for us. Thank you, we like friends: we eat and sleep together. I want to thank the therapy cats, Shelby and Cleo. I want to end this letter by saying good-bye and please pray for the kids and me.


For the sake of anonymity and her own protection, we have chosen not to reveal the writers name.

Want to make a donation? Click here.

Volunteer? Click here.

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Posted in Articles, Success Stories

What does a social worker do?

What does a social worker do?

Becoming a social worker means that you have a passion for people and wanting to help them. Social workers are there to make a difference in the lives of individuals, families and entire communities.

The role of a social worker is to assist and protect those in need and affected by a crises. They may get involved in cases that have:

  • Any form of abuse: children, women, the elderly
  • All cases of rape
  • Communities, who lack basic medical care, access to a clean water supply and proper schooling. Other Social workers assess needs on a larger scale. They may plan and administer programs and projects in the communities
  • Community social workers help communities This social worker in the community work directly with individuals and the family system as a howl. By conducting a needs assessments and making referrals to resources in the community.

That is where the Safe House comes in, by getting referrals from the community, extended programs, schools act, the Social Worker at the Safe House looks at the criteria of the safe house and if the client fits the criteria.

The social worker at the Safe House then helps to assist with, counselling on individual level, counselling and networking with family members and other interested parties when necessary. Counsel abused women from the community who are not ready to enter the Safe House. Group work in the day and/or evenings for women in the house.

Social workers can provide services in general to help people cope with different problems that occur in everyday circumstances. Then you get social workers with a special skill set and qualification that can also help to diagnose and treat various mental issues that might occur. The job does require that you live in the area or community you are helping or you should be able to travel to the community on a daily basis.

 Social workers safe house stellenbosch

There are many career paths to choose for a social worker

  • Social workers that focus on children, family and schools
  • Medical social workers: dealing with individuals and families with health issues.
  • Substance abuse and mental health
  • Correctional services
  • Therapeutic social workers.
  • Industrial social workers, working more on a business level, with fabrics, companies, educations and counseling in the work place.
  • Statuary social workers- working with foster care, the family as a howl, courts act.


To help the community, certain techniques and programmes can be implemented. These techniques can help build the community and help them to develop their own potential and abilities.


Techniques such as:

  • Helping the community with development programmes
  • By starting crisis intervention plans
  • Implementing youth programmes
  • Offering counselling and support for abused women through shelter programmes


By being a Social Worker in a Safe House environment, you have to do the following;

  • Individual, family and group work counselling
  • The administration of reports, statistics, clients documents, Safe House documents act.
  • To help monitor medical appointments, emergencies and helping to monitor pregnant girls in labor.
  • Statistics and report writing to Social Development
  • Help to plan programs, community projects act.
  • Help to assist women with protection orders and other legal issues, when necessary.
  • To see that all residents needs are met and rights are respected
  • To see that all residents CV’s are updated, help to look for trainings and education opportunity’s as well as job opportunities.
  • Networking with, other projects, organizations in the area.

Carla Senekal, our Safe House Social worker.

Challenges faced by a social worker

Being in this line of work is not easy and there are many difficulties that a social worker will face. There are many “fires” that need to be extinguished. Social workers are so busy putting out fires that they can’t really focus on the root of the problem.


  • They have to deal with the crises first hand
  • It is a high stress job that can affect health
  • Social workers have to deal with a range of different communities; this can lead to dealing with language barriers, violence and even in some cases death threats.
  • It can be difficult to sometimes provide services due to limited resources, limited finances and facilities in which to do their work.


There may be trials and challenges but the benefits and results outweigh any of the difficulties that may occur. It is all about making a difference in somebody’s life

You can read an interview with our resident social worker, Carla, here.

How does confidentiality work?

In the Safe House we take confidentiality seriously. We consider Confidentiality is the most important for the therapeutic relationship with the client. It helps the client understand that everything she will say will not be exposed.  Through the sharing of information, that the client feels safe, and the social worker can help the client address an issue, concern, or problem the client may be experiencing. As a Social Worker in the Safe House, confidentiality and the explanation around it, is handled in the very first session with our clients. The Social Worker does not only talk about confidentiality verbally, but signs off on it with a legally binding contract.


In the Safe House we address three main confidential points

  • The Social Worker X and Client Y will agree that everything they share and discuss during counselling will stay confidential.
  • That Social Worker X will not disclose anything personal that Client Y trusts her with, except if what the client reveals could possibly be harmful to herself or someone else, or, if sharing what the client has revealed with a professional will help me help the client to the best of my ability.
  • Client Y will not disclose anything personal that Social Worker X trusts her with, except if Client Y feel it will negatively affect others or herself, and only then will she disclose it to a staff member or professional.


Skills needed to be a social worker

Being a social worker is a demanding job and requires certain emotional and professional skills. A social worker, even after graduating will always be learning new things and skills. You are never too old to learn new skills, and with the help of a Supervisor, some that guides you in the way forward, training and a lot of research and reading your Children’s Act and Bill of Rights, you will have a guideline, to tackle situations in the right and ethical way.


Here are a few qualities that you should have to be a good social worker:


  • You must be a good listener, a lot of the time as a social worker you need to listen to people.
  • Have a level of emotional intelligence; this includes empathy and sensitivity towards other people and their circumstances.
  • A certain amount of organizational skills are required
  • Being tolerant, dealing with different cultures and people. Having respect for everybody.
  • Able to communicate effectively
  • You have to be able to set boundaries and create a healthy work and life balance



Social workers: ‘We are not in it for the income; we are in it for the outcome’

– Social Justice Solutions



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