IN what is likely to improve access to emergency health services and economic opportunities for girls who would have experienced various forms of abuse, Shamwari Yemwanasinaka is in the process of finalising the construction of a One Stop Empowerment Centre in rural Seke.
By Michael Gwarisa
The empowerment centre, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe, will offer shelter to girls aged zero to 18 who would have experienced violence of any kind and who are in need of a safe shelter away from home or the perpetrator.
In an interview with HealthTimes, Shamwari Yemwanasikana Programs Coordinator, Merjorie Nhamoinesu said the shelter will ease the referral pathways to reporting all forms of abuse through offering integrated services under one roof. The girls empowerment centre is located in Seke Rural Ward 8 which is approximately 41 kilometers from Harare, and 15 kilometers from Makoni shopping centre in Chitungwiza.
The centre will be providing direct and referral services to survivors who are admitted at the institution. It is tailor-made to provide comprehensive response to survivors through the provision of emergency health aid, legal aid, psychological support, counseling, nutritional aid and skills development,” said Nhamoninesu.
She added that the shelter also seeks to provide skills development so as to improve and enhance sustainable livelihoods for girls as well as to facilitate the legal and justice assistance.
“The shelter is going to be a home that will provide alternative shelter to survivors of violence. The goal is to keep survivors from any further potential harm from the perpetrator. Some of the services that are going to be available at the centre include boarding facilities that are to provide safe shelter to girls that are fleeing abuse, it has got emergency services that will provide clients with medical health staff that provide emergency treatment and examination upon admission.
“Cases that require procedures that are not available at the shelter will be referred to the central hospital in the company of a shelter nurse and a counselor for safeguarding and protection purposes. This approach is to ensure that clients receive comprehensive support at every stage of their rehabilitation.”
A dispensary unit at the shelter will also be serving to meet client health needs, be it health checks or treatment. There is also going to be a vocational training unit which is going to be established to facilitate life skills training for survivors as a strategy to enhance their capacity to be self-sufficient and be able to independently withstand economically induced challenges.
The centre will be affiliated with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Recreation, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Small to Medium Enterprises Development as well as the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education for skills sharing and training examinations which will be written through external institutions registered examination boards. Some of the life skills trainings which will be offered at the shelter include Solar Installation and Repairs, electronics, dressmaking, cake making, hair dressing, plumbing, brick laying, pottery, weaving, market gardening, basket making among others.
“There is also going to be a resource centre at the shelter which is going to be established where our clients will freely access educational, legislative and informative material on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), HIV and AIDS, Gender Equality, maintenance laws, national constitution, inheritance laws, Domestic Violence Act, Child Rights articles, Drugs and alcohol abuse, human trafficking among other information packages will be availed for clients learning purposes,” added Nhamoinesu.
The centre will also house a girls therapeutic centre (Dadaro Revasikana) which is safe space for girls to share experiences and have discussions about issues affecting their health. There is also going to be an SRH Hub as well as two nurses that will provide services for girls. The centre will also have an HIV Testing unit to offer testing services to walk in clients and girls who might be in need of such services. A legal aid unit will be in place and will be manned by two qualified two human rights and criminal law practitioners.
The centre will also work directly with the Chitungwiza Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) to assist in the reporting and follow-up of abuse cases.