Community Cohesion was a small idea in 2012. At the time I was volunteering at the Hout Bay SAPS in the Victim Support Centre. Here, we provided, and still do provide, crisis containment for victims of violence and crime. At that time, I was working in television as a documentary producer and this was my volunteer commitment. It began to bother me, that despite the absolute value of being there for another human being in their moment of crisis, victims needed and deserved more than what we could offer.
Being acutely aware of the history of our country; the violence of the past and the impact of that violence on our present, and my own upbringing in a family where we always tried to act consciously to assist others, I called my own bluff, left behind my career and embarked on an ambitious, frustrating, deeply emotional and ultimately very, very rewarding journey of establishing and growing an organisation that specialises in Victim Empowerment.
In 2012, it was me and my idea…refining, defining, learning from mistakes, thinking bigger and accepting a challenge from the Department of Social Development Victim Empowerment Directorate to test the model in Ocean View, Masiphumelele, Red Hill and Hout Bay. By 2014, I had employed 3 colleagues. I had also started another programme, One School at a Time, funded by Swiss Re, who saw the value of psycho-social support in our schools.
Now, in 2019, we have been acknowledged by National Government as the Top Victim Empowerment Programme in the Western Cape for direct services to victims of violence and crime. We are at our second school in the One School at a Time Programme. Cohesion now employs 14 people. The creation of the Cohesion #notforbutwith shop has created further employment for 8 people.
In this time, we have been there for over 8000 families in their time of crisis.
It is an absolute privilege to be able to provide this service to everyone who calls our country their home, to work every day with a team of inspiring and dedicated professionals, with colleagues who remind each other why we all do what we do when it gets really hard and you have heard one story too many that day.
I see supporting Community Cohesion, in any way, not as charitable giving but rather as investing in the future of our country. Our work continues to address the historical trauma’s of our past and attempts to break the cycle of inter-generational violence. My beloved South Africa, who has had such a painful past but who is growing into her maturity; we have an ongoing role to play in her growth, and it is something I wake up to do every day with pride and optimism.