The residents of Madombidzha village, including some traditional leaders, church leaders, medical professionals and police officers, were recently equipped with valuable knowledge on aspects of domestic violence, sexual assault, HIV and AIDS, future planning, child abuse, and human rights during week-long dialogues (training).
The training took place at the Makhado Christian Centre, where more than 600 people were trained as part of the Zero Tolerance Village Alliance – an intervention conceptualised and developed by the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP).
“Through the participants’ comments, one can see that our dialogues have an impact on their lives and it’s our wish to continue offering these dialogues,” said the project’s mentor, Ms Sarina Mudzwari.
She added that the project also aimed to empower the community to exercise their rights and to know where to go when those rights were violated.
“Looking at the interest which the participants showed, we feel these dialogues need to continue in other villages because it seems there’s a lack of information among community members on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, HIV and AIDS, future planning, child abuse, and human rights,” she said. “By expanding the dialogues to other villages, more people would know how to accept their social challenges and take responsibility for implementing solutions.”
She said that her concern was that people had little knowledge and were not familiar with their rights. “Some are even afraid to exercise their rights,” she said. “There’s a serious need for education in the communities.”
One of the facilitators, Ms Mukondi Madzena, lauded the participants for steady engagement during the weekly dialogues and said that she enjoyed working with every one of them. “They all seemed to know what they wanted when they interacted during the weekly dialogues,” she said. “They were quite vocal and ready to ask question for clarity and understanding. They learned a lot.”
TVEP’s programme director, Fiona Nicholson, said that they were currently negotiating with Makhado FM to expand the reach of educational dialogues. She invited local businesspeople to contact her or the manager of Makhado FM if they would like to join the campaign as a means of showing the people of Vhembe their commitment to eradicating violence against women and children.