By Lisa Harrison and Asha Emmerson
Oasis Zimbabwe was established in 2002 with a passionate team committed to empowering the most vulnerable in Zimbabwean communities. Their focus is on addressing the deep-rooted factors which keep people trapped in cycles of poverty and trauma resulting in hope and dignity being restored to individuals and families.
They have recently launched two exciting new initiatives focused on key aspects of women’s empowerment. Firstly there are the SWATT TEAMs; ‘Survivors, Women and girls Accessing Trauma intervention and Training To be Empowered Advocates and change Makers. This is Oasis’ response to the high levels of sexual and gender-based violence in the communities where they work.
Through this project, they plan to train 1000 sexual violence responders this year who can respond quickly and effectively to incidents in their communities, and help survivors to access crisis services such as medical care, reporting of crimes and safe shelter, and long term psychological recovery. The longer-term vision is to decrease tolerance of sexual violence in communities, empower survivors to access opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty and decrease their vulnerability to repeated incidents of violence.
The second new Oasis initiative, ‘Keep Them Learning’ addresses menstrual hygiene among young women in Mazowe South. Many girls do not have proper sanitary wear and use rags or paper, and often miss several days of school each month. Furthermore, bathroom facilities at many schools in the area are dilapidated and lack running water, making it difficult for girls to keep themselves clean and hygienic. These factors contribute to high numbers of girls dropping out of education.
Through this campaign, Oasis will produce and distribute simple re-useable sanitary pads to schools. In the long-term, local tailors will be trained on how to make and sell the pads in order to create employment. Plans have also been made to assist select communities in the refurbishment of their bathroom facilities using “green” models at local schools. Herein, emphasis will also be placed on establishing youth advocacy groups to raise awareness of the importance of keeping adolescent girls in education.
If you would like to support Oasis in these initiatives, send a message to @OasisZimbabwe on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, or visit their website www.oasiszw.org.
Read more about the SWATT TEAM initiative on www.globalgiving.org/projects/trauma-informed-sexual-violence-responers-zimbabwe
Photograph provided by Oasis Zimbabwe