SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe

by Oasis Zimbabwe
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SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
SWATT-TEAM: sexual violence responders in Zimbabwe
Huku (Chicken) Livelihoods Recovery Project
Huku (Chicken) Livelihoods Recovery Project

Huku (chicken), was a wise bird.  Some believed she couldn't achieve much. Afterall, she was small, lived in a very shaky, wire coop, and scratched and pecked day in and day out to gather what she needed to grow and lay eggs.  That was what Huku wanted.  To lay beautiful creamy brown eggs that would be the pride of the market place.  She dreamed of that market place, of hands reaching in to lift her eggs into their baskets, of the notes placed in the money box she kept safely locked and hidden away that would one day help her to build a stronger coop for her eggs.  But life was not kind or easy. As often as Huku laid her eggs, and as careful as she was, the shuffle of the coop caused many to fall and crack.  On her way to market, many feet landed on Huku, bruising her and crushing her eggs she so carefully carried. 

One day as she walked back from market, feeling that the harder she tried, the more she was crushed, Huku happened to look up and in a direction she had not noticed on her many journeys where she scratched and pecked and coddled her precious eggs.   Before her she saw a very busy road.  At the side of the road were many birds, just like her, standing shoulder to shoulder, heads lifted high, and ready to cross.  Huku called out to them in alarm as they began to move accross the busy street, expressing her fear at what would happen to them and their eggs if they dared to step out.  In spite of her warnings, the birds moved together, swiftly crossing over to where Huku was. Seeing the familiar despondency and fear on Huku's face, the birds gathered around her and began to speak to her about their journey.  They each related that they had scratched and pecked and tried and lost over and over, just as she had, and in that moment Huku knew she had found her strength.  

Huku lived in the same coop, scratched and pecked the same ground, experienced the shuffle of the coop that still caused many of her precious eggs to fall and crack, but one thing had changed. She no longer went to market alone. Each day, she stood shoulder to shoulder with those crazy, brave birds at the edge of the road. Some days they lifted her, until she was able to lift her own head.  Some days they stood for a very long time at the roads edge.  But each day, together, they crossed over, standing closer when an egg fell and broke, sharing the joy of seeing dreams work - even if just on some days. 

Why did Huku cross the road? 

Well, the answer is simple.  Because she did not have to do it alone. 

Life and dreams are most fragile when they are isolated.  That is what we learn every day as SWATT TEAMs.  We look for those who are depondent and feel broken - even when we feel the breaks in our selves.  We stand shoulder to shoulder, and we are able to cross the many roads we face.  This is especially important at this time when our world faces so much isolation, and again, we are so thankful that you stand shoulder to shoulder with us. 

It is our goal to raise our final US$ 15,000 target by December 2021.  The need is great, and we so appreciate your ongoing support.  Please feel free to share our project and reports with your family and friends, your corporates and organisations.  Shoulder to shoulder....we can cross over.  

Livelihoods Training & Business Modeling for SWATT
Livelihoods Training & Business Modeling for SWATT
Making a Plan to Cross the Road
Making a Plan to Cross the Road
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Mending Flood Damaged Home
Mending Flood Damaged Home

When we began SWATT TEAMs as a community movement, our hope as women was to "be the solution" to what we were seeing, and what was normalized in our communities as far as sexual gender-based violence.  As we have grown and stood together, even in times of isolation and uncertainty, our sense of community responsibility has grown so far beyond our hopes.  SWATT members are leading in caring for their neighbours experiencing increased incidence of domestic abuse, emotion and physical.  They have noticed and supported intervention in a number of child marriage cases, and intervened where young ones were left in neglectful circumstances and made vulnerable to predators; particularly during lockdowns where children were not in school and left to fend for themselves as their caregivers tried to find ways of making ends meet or providing a meal each day.  

Women have continued to meet to support each other, all while adhering to lockdown parameters, on a weekly to monthly basis.  Sharing their struggles, practicing mindfulness and trauma recovery techniques, and identifying where they can align with neighbours and families to support and assist them as they deal with daily stresses and internal family conflicts.  They have truly proven their commitment to living as solutions within and for community each day! 

Following the two cyclones at the beginning of the year, SWATT team members, including Oasis Zimbabwe staff, were able to support our Mozambican colleagues through trauma training and trauma aware conflict resolution training, as well as to practically assist those affected by the cyclone related flooding within our own communities.  

We believe that true character shows when we face our most difficult challenges, and the true character of the SWATT TEAMs certainly has shown and shone brightly.  This is what we came together for.  This is what we committed together to be.  When no one is watching, our voices are heard, our presence is know, and our concern is practical and felt.  

This report, we asked our community facilitators, also SWATT members, to share directly with you, so here, straight outta SWATT, is a story of hope from them: 

"Lucia had a number of her communities homes washed away by the cyclone driven flash-floods. The destroyed homes included three that belonged to elderly grandmothers. The affected grannies were left homeless and had their grains, their only source of food, washed away. Lucia and 2 other SWATT Team members mobilized the community to bring back shelter to the old women. They used iron sheets to make walls and roof of a smaller house for the worst affected granny. When the Oasis team visited, the granny who cares for two of her grandchildren, aged 6 and 8, who were orphaned when her son and his wife passed on 4 years ago, she could not hide her tears of joy at the support she had received. The SWATT team also repaired the walls for the other 2 grandmothers, the homes are habitable now."

Your financial support has been and remains crucial in allowing us to address the practical needs within our SWATT TEAMs and communities. Thank you! As you read about how we are doing together, please consider giving a gift at this time, and sharing about all we are doing with those you know to help to us to continue to support healing and recovery.  Together we are the solution. 

 

Cyclone Damage in SWATT Community
Cyclone Damage in SWATT Community
Cyclone Driven Flooding in SWATT Community
Cyclone Driven Flooding in SWATT Community
Trauma Aware Conflict Resolution Training_Moz Team
Trauma Aware Conflict Resolution Training_Moz Team
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Our Future, Our "Why"
Our Future, Our "Why"

Well, 2021 came in with a bang with the new South African coronavirus mutation having hit Zimbabwe and tripling our infection rates and losses in just a couple of weeks,  plus Cyclone Chalane. 

As I write this, so many around us in our community are sick or have passed on due to the sudden severity of COVID19 spread.  Each of us on the Oasis Zimbabwe team have experienced loss of at least one dear friend or relative  over the past week.  Severe floods are occurring across Zimbabwe following Cyclone Chalane and due to Tropical Cyclone Eloise currently forming and due to possibly make land fall in Mozambique and Zimbabwe this week.  Sexual and gender based violence is up by 200% from this time last year, and with the likelihood of increased displacements as well as the critical strains of strengthened lockdown measures, this is likely to increase further.  

We feel the strain, and we feel deep pain as Oasis team and as community.   We are tired and we feel stretched, but we stand shoulder to shoulder (metaphorically, of course).  As we stand, we breath and know that the hardest of seasons pass, and we can honestly say what a time this is to be grateful for life and health and to cherish each moment with the precious ones we get to do life with! 

Shoulder to shoulder we have encouraged each other, cheered each other on, supported 165 households with emergency food and other support over our lockdowns.  We have addressed increasing violence cases in and as community, including child marriage and exploitation cases that are increasing due to economic pressures, child violence and neglect cases and ongoing  domestic violence cases with severe threats of harm.  SWATT members within our toughest communities have created change in what was an increasingly hazardous environment around community boreholes in our hubs, where women and young girls queue for hours, even in lockdown, to get water for their households.  The water queues, which began in the dark hours of morning and lasted late into the night, were becoming points of exploitation for many women and young girls.  Predators were approaching women offering already gathered water for sex.  Seeing this occurring as they waited to gather water for their own homes, SWATT TEAM members went to our local council and called for the local government officials to take action regarding the issue. Their leading intervention has resulted in greater organization, awareness and safety around water collection, and curfews restricting borehole access to daylight hours that protect the women and young girls gathering for water. 

Bravely, and shoulder to shoulder, we are continuing to value each life, to seize each opportunity, to celebrate each step forward, to be grateful for each day you stand with us supporting our ability to continue. 

Globally and socially distanced, but bravely  step by step, action by action, and shoulder to shoulder, we keep on together in gratitude and hope.  

 

(PS. photo’s are from prior to lockdown, showing the faces of hope and togetherness that we will continue to look forward to seeing, unmasked, again)

Community Water Collection
Community Water Collection
Shoulder to Shoulder, This is Us
Shoulder to Shoulder, This is Us
Shoulder to Shoulder, This is Us (more typically:)
Shoulder to Shoulder, This is Us (more typically:)

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Even in the midst of this globally challenging year, time flies, courage rises, hope does not lose its power, and the struggle continues! 

As I thought about this report and all that we continue to hope and struggle for, I was reminded of a blog I wrote a few years back and it just seemed appropriate: 

"Everything in me pulsed as I watched the scene from the documentary “Reparando” of a native woman named Tita looking out over La Limonada, the Guatemalan slum in which she lived and had started a school. The filmmaker asked Tita about what was apparently assaulting their senses from their vantage point. Her reply was this, “All I smell is hope, and I like it”.  

That, right there, is my “why”.  It is my life driving passion to smell out hope and to dance with it... barefoot wherever possible. It always has been.

Sound like fun? The interesting thing I am learning about pursing hope is that, contrary to the common ethereal perception of it, it is most often a jagged, relentless challenger, not satisfied to leave me shaped the ways I was at first, or last, encounter. It jolts me at every opportunity, never allowing for comfort in my own ability to formulate solution, never hosting my vanity stemmed from privilege or place or the relative means I have to walk wherever I may. Sometimes hope smells like African rain falling on dry ground and when it does, it washes me and I need it. But mostly it stirs up things that stink and when it does, it grows me and I’m learning to love it.

Hope is not about dominating or changing the face of me, of you, of a community, of a slum, of the state of a nation. Hope is about stirring the thrive of a nation, of a slum, of a community, of you and of me. The target of hope has never been to expose who we are or are not in relation to one another. Its target exposes our own “why’s” and challenges ownership of them for our futures and the futures of those we have the privilege to share in.

So, let it stir you. Let it stink. Let it challenge who or what your “why’s” are really about. All I smell in the process is hope, and I like it!"

As I read through this again, the "why" of myself and team, as we smell the hope in the Zimbabwean slum areas we love and are so grateful to walk and inspire hope in every day, became powerful again.  No doubt this year is hard!  Still in lockdown, we have supported as many families, including child-headed homes, as we have been able with food distributions.  We have seen domestic violence increase as the pressures of survival, in these and all of our families, has intensified greatly.  We have had to remind ourselves as community to watch out for and support each other when instinct pulls us in toward self-preservation.  We have had to choose, each day, to embrace the jagged edges of hope.  

May our journey with hope in difficult times stir yours as you take a moment to hear from us today.  As you see our masked faces in the photo's each of our Oasis programming team took of themselves, and as you read the few words written to you underneath those frontline faces, may hope rise for you too.  Let it stir, let it stink, let it challenge.....

A luta continua!

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temperature ...check
temperature ...check

Alright, so we admit it, we spoke to soon!  We've gone from jokingly referring to how entering into 2020 had not quite met the Jetsonesque flying car expectation of a few decades back in our last report, to the world being locked down and quarantined due to a virus in a matter of months! 2020 is, apparently, 2020 after all! 

Our greatest hope is that you and those you love and get to do life with are well and safe. 

Here in Zimbabwe and in our communities that we love and are doing life with, we too are in indefinite lockdown.  The impact of this crisis’ impacts are disproportionately severe for so many here, however.  For our high-density communities that make up a majority of our work hubs, social distancing is a physical impossibility.  More than one family often occupies just a couple of rooms.  Homes and shelter structures do not have internal running water in these areas, and so community members must queue at communal water points each day.  The idea of using much of this water to consistently wash hands for 20 seconds is difficult one that does not bring comfort to the mother, father, daughter or son who have had to wake up at 4am and stand in line to get a precious bucket or two for the days’ needs.  Simply put, the luxury of protesting confinement, let alone being protected by it, does not live here. 

Most of our families in these areas, led by the women in and assisted by our SWATT TEAMs, survive by operating informal small businesses.  These businesses sustain families’ hand to mouth at the best of times, and as a majority are small sales-based they are unable to legally operate under lockdown with the exception of some regulated informal business types.  Within two weeks of lockdown, starvation, not the risk of COVID19 infection, became the more tangible threat.   

As a team, we are finding creative ways to connect online where we are having to miss each other in person.  Just hearing each other and community, using mobile networks to send out mindfulness tips and exercises, working with our network of teachers and community facilitators to call people in an effort to notice and be able to respond to assist the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.  The truth is, that we very often feel overwhelmed in the face of the need, but our shared motto these days is that we will "See today what our best opportunity is and focus our action, big or seemingly small, around that". Two of our primary goals in this are to identify where we see severe hunger, and to keep checking in on family and household relationships, including abusive situations and sexual gender-based violence incidents where we can to provide emergency assistance and referrals.  Just as in other nations, our  domestic and gender-based violence incidences have increased significantly under the COVID19 crisis, but in survival mode, these cases often get concealed deeply under what is considered to be the more urgent need.  We certainly know that the trauma and mindset work and training that we do under our SWATT TEAMs work is going to need to be ramped up as a part of trauma recovery following this pandemic.  

This GlobalGiving platform is amazing in the way that it allows us to connect, catch up and in ensuring that the money you give gets to us!  This month, we received a grant of US$1,000 from GlobalGiving itself to help us respond to the COVID19 crisis in any way we need to! This means that we have been able to purchase basic food packs for nearly 200 of our most vulnerable of vulnerable families and this week will be able to see at least some of the women we are missing so much (with social distancing of course!), and to have the brief opportunity to see their eyes, hear them, and remind them that they are seen and are not alone.   

Thank you again for your ongoing support. We hope that the realization that you are a part of impacting of all of the beautiful faces we will get to see over the next week will do your heart as much good as it does ours.  It truly is your individual support that is enabling us to keep doing what we do, at present. 

sanitizer...check
sanitizer...check
10kg bag of staple maize meal....check
10kg bag of staple maize meal....check
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Organization Information

Oasis Zimbabwe

Location: Harare, Harare Province - Zimbabwe
Website:
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Twitter: @oasiszimbabwe
Project Leader:
Asha Emmerson
CEO, Country Director
Harare, Harare Province Zimbabwe
$38,791 raised of $50,000 goal
 
210 donations
$11,209 to go
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