At NAG we believe in supporting grassroot organisations, and when the opportunity arose for one of our member organisations to start a shelter to build on the years of community work supporting women. NAG’s role was to facilitate a multi stakeholder partnership to get the infrastructure and operating funding in place involving the Hanne’s memorial fund, Norway, Xolo traditional council, Department of Social Development and our close colleagues Impande Foundation, Norway.
In March 2016 the shelter opened its doors. This was a ground-breaking event and all of us were moved by the interwoven stories brought together:
The story of a family bringing hope to others after their daughter was taken away in an evil, meaningless and hateful act of violence… The story of siblings finding a way to honour their parents’ lives of service and sacrifice for the betterment of the suffering, oppressed and vulnerable… The story of a community leader whose heart beats for his people, a man of action rather than empty words… The story of community veterans whose dream finally come true. A long-lived dream of those who dedicated their lives to restore the wounds of our past, working relentlessly to prevent the cycle of violence from continuing to poison our society…
And finally, and perhaps the least heard story of an organisation, of and for the very community they serve, who is recognised, resourced and strengthened rather than forgotten in the name of development.
Siyamthanda is an organisation based in a tribal community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
In the early 90’s there was a lot of political violence and this area was badly affected. Many people were killed and because of these killings and the violence, families were left devastated. The trauma and effects were never dealt with and as a result, there is a lot of violence and domestic abuse.
Siyamthanda started as a group of women volunteered their time to help victims of domestic violence, rape and other forms of trauma. Siyamthanda strives to empower women and children as well as strengthen relationships within families.
Since the opening in 2016 Siyamthanda has been providing a safe shelter for hundreds of women and children. Here victims of violence and abuse receive immediate support and counselling as well as an opportunity to rebuild their lives. The running costs for the shelter have been funded by DSD for 3 years now. In 2018 an experienced social worker was employed, and to date the shelter is well recognized among stakeholders and the community.
This is the only shelter for women and children in the whole of UGU District, South Africa.
If it was not for the services, they provide there would be no refugee for victims of domestic violence or a place for women to turn to protect their children from abuse. Lives are saved and restored here.
About the Families
The Madikiza family donated land and their childhood home to the shelter. They abandoned the home for safety fears during the political violence. The father of the Madikiza family wanted it to be put to good use for the community one day. The oldest daughter has continued to support and regularly visit the shelter until recently when her health no longer allows it.
The shelter was built with money from Hanne’s Memorial Fund. It is a trust fund managing the compensation given to the family of Hanne Ekroll Løvlie, who was killed during a terrorist attack on governmental buildings in the centre of Oslo 22 July 2011. The trust fund support causes that were close to Hanne’s heart and they have continued to assist Siyamthanda to run the shelter.