TRIUMPH: Skills development graduates who survived gender-based violence with MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane at the Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein.
Over 170 survivors of gender-based violence were glowing with pride at their graduation ceremony, where they were celebrated for beating the odds against them.

The women completed an intensive skills development programme at Ikhaya Lethemba empowerment centre.

Ikhaya Lethemba is a victim empowerment centre which offers multiple disciplinary services to survivors of gender-based violence including capacity building and skills development. It provides high quality tailored services as per the profiles of the victims.

Home-based care graduate, Jabu Ndlela said she came to Gauteng from KwaZulu-Natal in search of employment. She initially lived with a family member until she moved in with her boyfriend.

He started to abuse her when the couple were expecting their fifth child. She said her partner started using drugs which would make him abusive to her.

“My plan was to study nursing. I used to take the grant money for my children and pay a nursing school, but unfortunately the school turned out to be a fly by night. This added to my misery and forced me to stay (in the relationship).”

She continued: “I am very grateful for this opportunity. I feel like God has answered my prayers and wiped my tears away. I have been given a chance to make things right again.”

Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane explained that the survivors are accommodated at Ikhaya Lethemba, where as part of the package of services, they received psycho-social and medico legal assistance for a period of up to nine months. Other services offered at the centre cover a complete scope of gender-based violence as professional screening; family violence and child protection services; therapy and family justice services.

The centre is in partnership with the Institute of Health and Social Care as well as the Johannesburg Institute for Education and Training.

They provide survivors with a range of courses such as home-based care, palliative care; ancillary nursing; child and youth care as well as a hair, nail and beauty course.

At the ceremony, Nkosi-Malobane said: “I understand that you have walked a difficult journey to be where you are today. I am in awe of the perseverance, the faith and strength you have displayed during the most painful season of your lives. Looking back from the time you walked into our centre - it gives me great pleasure to celebrate your graduation day.”

When asked which part of the course she enjoyed the most, Ndlela said: “I mostly enjoyed the practical part of the home-based care course, which we did at Helen Joseph Hospital.”

Ndlela said from now on, she will be volunteering at various organisations so she can add experience into her theoretical studies.