Phola Holds Annual General Meeting in Zandspruit

Phola Board and Secretariat duly convened a successful second Annual General Meeting in Zandspruit on 19 November 2021.The Annual General Meetings are within the framework of Department of Social Development (DSD), which requires nonprofit organizations to have their Annual General Meetings regularly.

The delegates to the Phola General Meeting were mostly from Diepsloot, Cosmo city and Zandspruit and other surrounding areas. We appreciated the presence and participation of four officers from Honeydew Police station and attendance of Community Policing Forum members.

The Phola Board Chairperson Mr Mutsubi Ngwenya flanked by his counterpart Immaculate Shembe a fellow Board Member addressed the meeting. Few Board Members were unable to grace the occasion, they gave apologies. Meanwhile The Chairperson Mr Ngwenya is his wide-ranging speech thanked everyone who attended the Phola Annual General Meeting. He explained that Phola was a community driven organisation with culturally sensitive methodologies responsive to community needs.

Honeydew Police officers

Phola Director Ncazelo Mlilo’s report read on her behalf by Judith Mthombeni (Programmes Coordinator). She spoke on the vision, mission, and accomplishments of the organisation during covid -19 pandemic. She gave an overview of the organisation from its formation in 2016. Phola addresses psychosocial and mental health problems associated with violence, crime, substance abuse, child abuse, gender-based violence, hardships, and trauma.

At the core of Phola work is the development and dissemination of home grown culturally sensitive therapies to provide meaningful, effective, and appropriate psychological counselling services to people who have experienced hardships and trauma. The programmes target children, youth, women, men and their families and communities.

Phola social workers and psychologists use both the traditional intervention strategies and these culturally sensitive methodologies to have more positive impact. They do not just provide counselling but make thorough assessment of all clients who come for services, with their consent and participation we measure stress levels pre and post intervention. This is an indicator to see the impact of our services.

Stakeholders

In conclusion the Director implored the communities to join hands with Phola to make communities safe places to live in and reduce Gender-based Violence (GBV) and other forms of abuses that result in traumatic experiences.

Phola in its journey with clients focuses on how thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and behavior interact, sets goals and teaches better coping skills.

In his vote of thanks Tamsanqa Mlilo (Director for Partnership Development and Communications) thanked the stakeholders, community leaders, community policing forum, and all visitors for attending the Annual General Meeting. The feedback sessions were helpful, timely and enriched Phola. It was an opportunity to thank Emthonjeni Centre for providing Phola with a venue and excellent facilities.

Phola Director’s Speech at Department of Social Development (DSD) Vehicle Handover Event

The Executive Director of Phola, Ncazelo Mlilo officially spoke on behalf of nonprofit organizations in Gauteng during Social Development MEC Morokane Mosuyoe official handover of purchased vehicles.

Ncazelo Mlilo Speaking

The event took place on 27 October at Wembley Stadium. A substantial portion of the stadium was used by participating organizations to display their branded cars, courtesy of DSD grants. The Phola vehicle was selected as the “best branded car” was on the main display pad.  Among the audience were senior government officials and various stakeholders.

Two staff members were with the Phola Director at the vehicle handover ceremony. In her speech the Phola Director Ncazelo Mlilo applauded the Department of Social Development’s gesture of allocating vehicles to nonprofit organizations collaborating with various communities and providing critical services which ranged from victim empowerment, substance abuse, and psycho-social support and poverty alleviation interventions.

Phola Vehicle on display

Below is her address to the audience:

“On behalf of NPOs that have received support from DSD, with the provision of vehicles, we want to say a BIG THANK YOU.

We collaborate with vulnerable communities and groups that we need to reach consistently. Our work requires that we travel to and from the communities that we serve.

Before we got DSD vehicle, Phola had an old bus that constantly broke down. This meant high maintenance, lost man hours and disruption in service delivery. Thanks to DSD and national government, we now move around with great confidence and ease without any apprehensions or unnecessary delays. We use our immaculate Avanza (proudly donated by DSD) to transport our mobile counselling trailer to different sites in Diepsloot, Cosmo city and Zandspruit. We are also able to transport clients from point A to B.

It has increased access to services for our clients. For this we are grateful to government, particularly DSD.

Other NGOs in Partnership with DSD

I would also like to mention that our partnership with DSD has been an amazing and fulfilling experience. You supported, nurtured, encouraged, capacitated, mentored, guided, resourced, and helped us to realize our dreams and vision to compliment efforts of the government in provision of mental health services, psycho-social support and other ancillary services needed by vulnerable communities.

Gauteng MEC Handing Vehicle keys to Phola

The provision of these vehicles is a testimony to all this. We cried out for help you heard us. It is in our hands now to be the best that we can be. In our work and interactions with communities that we serve. The feedback and support that we receive propels us forward and enables us to be effective foot soldiers.

Once more thank you DSD for your leadership and wise counsel. We appreciate your great care and consideration of vulnerable people and groups that we work with and among.”

She concluded her speech by remarking, “On behalf of all nonprofit organizations assembled here and witnessing this momentous occasion I appreciate the strong and smart partnership existing between DSD and nonprofit organizations doing sterling community work for the needy, vulnerable, and marginalized amongst us. Hopefully, this bond will endure forever.”                                

Phola Receives Prestigious Award

On 8 March 2021 Phola was among organizations honoured in a glamorous function organized by Gender-Links. The event was for organizations partnering with Gender-Links in its outreach programmes. 

2021 WVL Awards

In her keynote address a senior gender expert spoke about the Mexico Generation Equality Forum. The 2021 Generation Equality Forum was a major global inflection point for gender equality. The Forum took place at a critical moment. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing gender inequities, with reports of rising violence against women.

At the awards ceremony Phola was the overall winner in The Youth Empowerment Category with the following citation: ‘In Recognition of Your Outstanding Contribution in Promotion of Gender Equality.’

Women’s Voice Leadership – Phola Youth Empowerment Award

The event was not only for Johannesburg based organizations, but it included the entire country from Durban and Cape Town. Those who could not attend, joined virtually. 

The participating organizations are registered with the Department of Social Development and mandated to provide specific services to needy communities in South Africa. Phola in collaboration with Gender-Links promotes the empowerment of women advocating and fighting the scourge of gender-based violence. The partnership is on issues of similar synergies namely gender issues, children’s rights, Gender-Based Violence and women rights and psychosocial support services. Phola works in the following communities; Diepsloot, Zandspruit, Cosmo City and surrounding areas.

The financial injection from Gender-Links helps Phola to facilitate COURRAGE sessions for women in different communities within and outside Johannesburg. Ncazelo Mlilo, a renowned psychologist developed The COURRAGE Methodology. She is a trainer with a global footprint. She is also the Founder and Director of Phola a psychosocial organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

COURRAGE is a collective narrative therapy methodology developed to privilege the second or alternative stories of people have faced hardships and trauma. It seeks to honour the strengths and skills people show and use in the face of pain, discrimination, and abuse.

It is a psychosocial support programme aimed at providing a culturally sensitive space for individuals to feel comfortable expressing their entire identity in an atmosphere of acceptance.

Sikhonzile Malinga (Psychologist at Phola) holding the Award

Sikhonzile Malinga received the award on behalf of Phola.

Gender Inclusion in Policy making and implementation

On 31st October 2000, the UN Security Council passed its first ever resolution on Women, Peace and Security (Resolution 1325). Furthermore, NGOs like Oxfam, Amnesty International, International Alert, Conciliation Resources began also to stress the gender- dimensions of conflicts and their implications for peace-building process as well as their significance for their own work.

Women influencing Governing Policies

Their policy recommendations, project planning and assessment address and stress – to varying degrees – women’s diverse experience in war, including their particular and distinctive peacemaking roles and the psychological, physical, and mental consequences of violent conflicts on women, such as trauma and war injuries.

People not only have different access to power structures and material resources before, during and after the escalation of a conflict; they also experience the pre-conflict phase, open conflict, and post -conflict situation in diverse ways. In most peace negotiations women’s experiences and situations are neither mentioned nor considered, and gender equality has not been adopted as an explicit aim. Therefore, with peace settlements as ‘gendered deals’, patriarchal structures tend to be perpetuated in political and economic institutions as well as in gender-relations.

In addition to the peace negotiations phase, the presence of international agencies and peace-keeping troops has also resulted in the “sexualization” of war zones, e.g., an increasing commercial sex trade include child prostitution. The rise of prostitution under such conditions also entails a striking rise in sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.

There is growing body of evidence which points to the diversity of women’s activities and new experiences during a conflict that may have social, political, and economic consequences for post -conflict settlement and peace-building process.

In recent years, the immense variety of active roles played by women during violent conflicts was not very visible because of poor documentation and limited studies. As a result, the analytical focus has tended to be very much on women as passive agents, as helpless recipients of aid and targets of warfare.

This has changed. Today, it is documented and acknowledged that women play a variety of roles during violent conflicts. On one hand, women have functioned as peacemakers, peacekeepers, caregivers, and survivors (adult and children) etc.., while on the other hand, some have been involved in conflicts as freedom fighters.

Although there is a great of evidence, especially in the African context, which illustrates women’s roles as conflict mediators and as the main advisors in intra-group, inter-group, and national conflicts, one must realize that the equation of “women as peaceful sex” is not supported by historical evidence. The documentation of women’s involvement in actual violence and directly supporting of most contemporary violence conflicts tells a different story.

In Rwanda, for example, women actively supported and participated in the 1994 genocide. And women have not only used violence but have also incited men to use violence. Therefore, women cannot be considered- whether socially or biologically to be automatically more peaceful than men. The alleged peacefulness of women is the result of their exclusion from power i.e., the result of their dependent and subordinate role in hierarchical gender roles.

Everyone wants to be represented and heard

Given the wide variety of roles women and play in violent conflicts, one must differentiate between disempowering and empowering effects of violent conflicts on gender relations and women’s and men’s roles in peace-building processes.

Despite gross atrocities, human rights violations and everyday brutality and terror, violent conflicts also bring some empowering effects. In many wars, in the absence of men, women assume traditionally male-dominated roles, thus breaking with the old social order.

The end of a violent conflict may not only imply changes in the division of labor, political transformation etc. but may also lead to (radical) changes in gender relations. In the light of surviving violence and social and economic deprivation, women may gain more or new self-confidence, social and political skills. However, there is no guarantee that all these changes will be sustainable and empowering for women in the long term.

As far as disempowering effects of violent conflicts are concerned, both men and women often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including suicide, depression, different forms of mental illnesses etc. Striking aspects of this include different forms of sexual violence against girls and women like rape, forced prostitution and sexual humiliation. In Bosnia, for example, the sexual abuse of women was part of ethnic cleansing under the guise of national and ethnic supremacy.

True Leadership represents all

Rape as systematic war strategy and its social, psychological, and physical effects on women have received more academic and political attention during recent years. While both male and female rape often aim to humiliate and demoralize the adversary, there seems to be a different motivation behind both forms of rape. Female rape seems to aim at humiliating and even destroying the community. Male rape, on the other hand, may be means to humiliate men.

In this context it is crucial to note that in the aftermath of violent conflicts female rape remains prevalent, while in some conflicts rape and other forms of sexual violence (domestic violence) even tend to be on the increase.

Another striking disempowering effect of violent conflicts on gender relations may be social exclusion- including reduced economic opportunities and marriage prospects-of women who have participated in violent conflicts as fighters.

There has been an increased participation of women as international actors in transnational women’s movements for peace, social justice, and human rights.

Transnational women’s NGOs and their work on issues such as domestic violence, women’s human rights, reproductive rights in the context of population policy or economic rights in the context of development policy have an essential impact on the agenda- setting in international relations, playing an important part in increasing gender-awareness in national and international politics and in policy formulation on the national and international level.

The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security is a milestone.

Activism against Gender Based Violence | Blog | GBV | Policymakers | Women in Leadership
Domestic Abuse | Gender Based Violence | Lockdown | PHOLA

EFFECTS OF GBV AND RAPE IN OUR COMMUNITIES

Gender-based violence has been defined by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as ‘Violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately.’ It remains as one of the biggest challenges and obstacles to development in the country.

Sadly, South Africa is among the countries with the highest rate of rape in the world.

Police recorded an average of 110 rape cases daily in 2017/2018 and the figure did not account for unreported incidents. Rape, domestic violence, and intimate partner violence are particularly prevalent.

Rape is a terrible trauma that violates the deepest places of a woman’s being. Emotional responses to trauma are normal and natural, and people react in diverse ways. Reactions include confusion, crying, fatigue and depression, flashbacks, sleeping disturbances, anger, fear, anxiety, grief, fear or substance abuse, problems with relationships, or work, suicidal thoughts, and feeling helpless and overwhelmed.

She feels ashamed and dirty. She wonders if she could have stopped it or prevented it. She blames herself.

Let’s work together to eradicate GBV and Rape.

In addition to these feelings, a rape survivor may sustain physical injuries. I could be beating, choking, or stabbing. She faces the possibility of being pregnant, of having contracted venereal disease or HIV, and carries this anxiety with her long after the rape.

At times society blames rape survivors for the ordeal. Therefore, it is important for a survivor to talk to someone she trusts or seek professional help.

In his study on rape in South Africa, Vogelmann notes that, “All women, whether raped or not, fear rape and take precautionary measures which limit their freedom” Rape is an act affecting all women, regardless of whether they are personally raped.

Women are aware of their vulnerability to rape and other forms of violence against them., Thus, they restrict their lives, not venturing to certain places at night or alone, not taking certain jobs, not visiting friends.

Women who have survived rape need the unconditional belief and acceptance of those they tell their story to. It is rare for a woman to make a false rape claim. It is far more likely that a man, in confronted with what he has done, will deny having raped. Most women never tell anyone about their ordeal, such is the shame and victim- blaming surrounding rape. It she does tell someone; it often takes great courage to do. She needs emotional support, medical care, counselling and must report the incident at a police station.

Phola organisation was established in 2016 to address the psychosocial and mental health problems associated with violence, crime, substance abuse, child abuse, gender-based violence, hardships, and trauma.

At Phola Village women and children experiencing gender-based violence or any form of abuse can get help. The Phola Director Ncazelo Mlilo is a psychologist with experience in psychosocial work and counselling.

During the past two decades she has developed methodologies now widely used internationally in countries such as Canada, United Kingdom, United States of America, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Brazil, Swaziland, South Africa, Uganda, and Russia. Her leading publication is The Tree of Life Methodology developed in 2006.

Phola’s Approach to Assisting Survivors is rooted in our Narrative Therapies;

Tree of Life Methodology

Is a hopeful and inspiring approach to working with children, young people and adults who have experienced trauma. It uses metaphors and carefully formulated questions inviting children and others to tell stories about significant experiences in their lives in ways that make them stronger and hopeful about the future. The methodology allows people to explore to explore difficult issues in their lives such as abuse, loss, and grief without being re-traumatized by these experiences.

COURRAGE

This is a methodology that takes women and others affected by violence, crime, and abuse through ten sessions that allows them to separate from shame, guilt, and psychological distress resultant from traumatic experience.

Narrative Therapy in the Suitcase Project

The Narratives in The Suitcase project uses journey metaphors to support children and people on the move to share stories, about their movements in ways that gives them hope about their lives and the future.

O.U.T.T.R.A.G.E.D. Methodology (Men and Boys)

O.U.T.T.RA.G.E.D. is a collective narrative therapy framework that facilitates conversations with men and boys for the prevention of violence and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in particular.

CHARITY IS THE CORNERSTONE OF HUMANITY

Is charity on the same pedestal as love? I believe charity is on a much higher plane than love. Love is a labyrinth of emotions and feelings hence its susceptible to pride, prejudice, expectations. Love is usually informed by relationships, friendships, and family bonds. But charity is giving a helping hand to someone not necessarily related to or known. It could be stranger from a different community or people living in another country.

Phola Community Facilitators reaching out.

When disaster strikes in any corner of the world, it is part of human nature to empathize and at times mobilize resources or even avail our skills and knowledge and lend a helping hand to those in distress. The urge is there to ameliorate or mitigate pain, loss, and suffering of fellow human beings.

Among the common disasters afflicting mankind are civil wars, floods, earthquakes, drought, and diseases like Ebola, malaria, and the current deadly pandemic coronavirus. Following the outbreak of covid-19 virus individuals from poor communities came out in the streets begging for food from passersby mostly in busy intersections, and outside shopping malls.

Phola was among the frontline organizations which provided psycho-social support and food parcels to the victims of gender-based violence during lockdown. The beneficiaries were women and children from Diepsloot, Cosmo city, Zandspruit and Alexander township.

Phola’s act of kindness might have been a drop in an ocean, but the ocean will be a drop less without it. The emaciated bodies of half-dressed children told a thousand stories of hunger and deprivation. Some related sad stories of how they had survived by scavenging in the dust bins.

Phola helping SA’s youth

The highest act of giving is charity. It is unequivocal, unparalleled, and selfless sacrifice borne from UBUNTU. This is the highest stage of love and knows no boundaries and is blind. It knows no religion, political affiliation, prejudices, color, or creed.

Phola’s psycho-social work services are offered gratis. The work is made possible through goodwill, partnerships and collaboration with organizations sharing similar synergies.

Phola’s mission and philosophy are firmly anchored on the values of UBUNTU, encapsulated in the motto, ‘I will be my brother’s keeper.’ Isn’t this the cornerstone of humanity, caring beyond measure and loving without limits?