I wish to raise funds for a group of brave women in South Africa who are saying ‘enough is enough’ (Sekwanele) to gender based violence and are taking a stand. They are not waiting to be rescued or for the world to change. They have decided that together they will defend themselves, earn their own money, grow their own food and be powerful. They are asking for a community room to meet, train, share and learn with each other.
I am South African now based in the UK and a survivor of gender-based violence like so many other women. Therefore, instead of spending Xmas with my family I will be walking the St Winefride pilgrimage trail in solidarity with all women who are survivors of gender-based violence to raise money for this amazing group of women who have said, "enough is enough".
Less than a year ago, 3 women participants, who are part of Zingela Ulwazi's Permaculture Explorer programme in South Africa were assaulted within a two-month period. (Names have been changed)
- Angelica was beaten so badly by her partner she had to move out of the area.
- Tebogo was raped as she was hitching a ride home because she had no taxi money.
- Victoria was stabbed by a man who had been stalking her and broke into her home.
Why walk the St Winefride pilgrim trail
St Winefride was the daughter of a seventh century Prince. A young nobleman, Caradoc, tried to force himself on her and she fled. Enraged he chased her and when he found her cut off her head. The legend says that her head rolled to where her uncle was praying. Pure water sprung up from where her head came to rest. Her Uncle places her head on her body, and she came back to life whereas the earth opened and swallowed Caradoc's body. For me, this story symbolises how gender-based violence tears us apart so completely and yet women have the strength to keep on living and loving.
I will start on winter solstice and walk throughout the longest night of the year to symbolise the strength it takes to survive and stand up to gender based violence. I'll end the walk on Xmas day at St Winefride holy well. I ask you to imagine that each step taken is one step closer to a world where women take their liberation. We are tired of asking. We will not beg. We will take what is ours.
If people wish to walk with me for some or all of the way, they are welcome.
Sekwanele was founded by the powerful Quentan Marula (now coordinator) who is supported by Zingela Ulwazi. It has been active for just over one year. Women have been taking self-defence classes. They have set up support networks in neighbourhoods. They have held meetings with male leaders in the area demanding things change. This has made them stronger, more confident; they are standing up to their abusive partners or leaving them. They are stepping into their power! The healing that has been reported from sharing is profound and helps women to know that they are not alone in their struggle.
BUT Sekwanele needs a home where the women are safe, sharing circles can happen, classes can be held, and equipment can be stored. Up until now self-defence classes and sharing circles have been taking place in rented spaces or outdoors. This does not give the women the safe space they need to support each other. Plus, with the heat and humidity of summer upon us (it can get up to 45 degrees centigrade), it is impossible to hold classes outdoors.
Sekwanele needs a home out of the blazing sun
Zingela Ulwazi plan to build a simple structure with shade netting walls (the drawings don't show them, but it is 90% shade cloth), a metal roof to catch rainwater, a bathroom and a secure storeroom. One of the area's premier architects donated the plans for the building and a company donated the shade netting for the walls. We have a local builder who has agreed to hire two of our women to work with him on the construction. This will cost R250 000 (£12000/$16000).
And it is needed NOW! It will only take 2 months to get it completed. The local builder is ready to start once we have the funding. We will also need some additional equipment to outfit the studio. Let's do this!