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.
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.
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We Need Your Help: Safe House Christmas Wish List
Womens’ shelters, like SafeHouse play an important and vital role in our society. Helping women and children to escape from abuse and domestic violence and providing a safe place for them. A place where they can take refuge and receive the protection and support they need.
We are a charitable organization and in order to meet their needs we rely on the general public to provide financial donations. This is not the only way you can help out, as we need many supplies and goods to help the women and children under our care.
The Christmas season is also upon us, and it should be a time of fun and cheer, but for many of these families who come to us, are under a lot of stress. Many of the children go without gifts and will not experience the festive season as it should be. We would like to make a difference at Christmas for these women and children. To share the love and Christmas cheer and to bring a smile to their faces. You can help us achieve this!
Shelter Christmas Needs List
- Christmas tree
- Christmas decorations
- Wrapping paper
- Toys such as balls, children books, colouring books, kokie pens and backpacks
- Dresses size small to medium
- Nappies size 4 and up
- Baby shampoo
- Baby soap
- Baby laundry soap
- Baby wipes
- Bum cream
- Underwear small to medium
- Shoes size 1 – 6
- Shampoo/ Conditioner
- Hair products (gel, hairspray, etc.)
- Ethnic hair products (relaxers, moisturizers, etc.)
- Hair brushes
- Sanitary pads
Food donation and kitchen Products
- Any kind of red meat for Christmas meal
- Chicken for Christmas meal
- Fruit and vegetables
- Tea towels
- Dish cloths
Cleaning Supplies (kitchen/bathroom)
- Dishwasher soap
- All-purpose cleaners
- Laundry soap
- Toilet bowl cleaners
- Rubber gloves
- Canned Tuna
- Canned fruit (all varieties)
- Cereals – oats (all varieties)
- Spices (all varieties)
- Baby food (Cereal & Jars – all ages)
- Fabric paint
- Paint brushes
- Needles and pins
- Embroidery thread
- Embroidery ring
Any contribution that you can make, would be most welcome.
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.
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
Our annual Safe House AGM was held on 28 September at the NG Wes Church in Stellenbosch. We are thankful that we had quorum for the meeting with more than 25 people in attendance. It was lovely to see our board members, donors, sponsors, staff, volunteers and even some residents in attendance.
Although the meeting prescriptive, this year we wanted to not only present facts, statistics and figures, we also wanted to give our audience some real insight into the day to day happenings at the Safe House. One of our talented residents, “Nita” performed humorous snippets of life in the Safe House, which was applauded by our audience.
This year we also took a few minutes to look back at how far L’Abrie de Dieu has come since its inception. Various successful campaigns over the years and an ex- resident who is now employed in the Safe House as a House Mother are memorable highlights that remind us about the impact of the work we are doing in the community at large.
Our therapy cat
Quality Assurance Audit Results
We are very proud of the fact that our organisation scored 95% in the Quality Assurance Audit done by the Department of Social Development this year. Even though we’ve had a trying year housing 60 victims while losing support staff, we managed to prove that we are not only on the right track with how we run things, but that we are also an example to other shelters. We believe that the thing that drives us to success is the fact that we are always looking for new better ways to serve the victims who find themselves on our doorstep.
We are also pleased to report that our building project reached fruition this year. We got a big financial injection from the National Lotteries Board who donated R500 000 to see the building project through. We now have 5 extra bedrooms and 2 new bathrooms, with a beautiful Skills Training Facility to better accommodate and empower the growing number of women and children who need a safe haven and upliftment from their domestic violence ordeal.
Our auditor Dennis from Exceed who is also volunteer, explained in person the various expense allocations that the Safe House has and reported that Safe House is financially sound.
We would like to thank each and every person who thought of us and the work we do and opened their hearts and wallets to assist us. Without you, our work would be impossible.
While you think you may have nothing of value to offer, we at Safe House have learned over the years, that every volunteer, by just making themselves available, makes a huge difference in the lives of women and children who find themselves under our roof.
You could spend time with the women just chatting to them, talking about books, praying with them, teaching them how to budget, doing crafts, sewing, knitting, or even teaching them to cook! Other workplace skills, such as computer literacy, interviewing, CV writing and so on are also much needed.
Here’s an outline of some the qualities that we look for in our volunteers.
Being energetic and having a positive attitude can help to motivate yourself and others. Enthusiasm for the cause can also help to nudge others to take action. Being aware of others and treating everybody with respect is important. Helping to support all members of the group can only bring about successful results faster. Enthusiastic people always tend to stir those around them to positive action.
There are various positions that need filling at a moment’s notice. So volunteering can be a different experience every day, because of the varying needs at any given time. One day you could be packing boxes and the next day driving a lady to court. This type of work requires many skills and a volunteer needs to be prepared to grow and learn from the experience. Gaining a variety of skill sets can be a valuable add on to any resume.
You should be able to follow through on your commitment. All charity organisations rely on their volunteers to be successful. Beneficiaries of the organisation – in our case the women and children are looking forward to the volunteers visit. A volunteer should be able to be on time and do their work so that they can produce the best results for the organisation. Punctuality is also a very important thing to learn and can be applied in all life circumstances, it shows your respect for others. Obviously life does happen and things get in the way, but honesty should then be the first policy.
Creative and passionate
Creativity and being passionate about an issue will bring a bit of fun and excitement into the environment. Volunteering can sometimes be stressful and it can be exhausting, creativity just adds that extra spark when needed. Sometimes doing the same thing day in and day out can get a bit boring. Adding some creative flare can brighten things up a bit. We found that a little creativity sparks a wonderful letting out of emotions through art.
Work hard and be honest with everybody. You should be able to take responsibility for your work, especially if you did something incorrectly. Know your limits and ask for help when you need it. Volunteering has served as a job referral already for many who have assisted us in the past.
Volunteering involves many workers who are trying to reach the same goals you are. A volunteer should be able to work well in a team. You should be able to follow orders without complaining. If you show initiative you might also be able to grow your leadership skills.
A volunteer should be able to listen and communicate well. Being able to talk to your fellow co-workers and listen to them attentively can only make things go more smoothly and successfully without misunderstandings. It is important to also be able to handle constructive criticism where something needs to be improved.
Good organisational skills
Since there is usually so much work to do, it is great to possess some good organisational skills. Tasks just become easier to complete and more manageable. Everybody is not running around and doing their own thing. Working together as a cohesive team will get the job done.
Do you still think you’ve got what it takes to be a good Safe House volunteer? Contact us and experience what’s it’s like to make a real difference in someone’s life.