Women’s Crisis Center
With funds for a two-year period from the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), International Aid Services (IAS) was, in collaboration with Filadelfia Church and NLAI, able to start a 24-hour crisis centre on the church compound. In 2005 a large donation was received from an all-day charity telethon in Denmark for the benefit of African orphans. With that donation, a similar day crisis centre was started in 2007 near to the town’s dumpsite.
The purpose of both crisis centres is to help abused teenagers and women, prostitutes and widows, of whom many have been victims of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.
As many of the teenagers and women have never attended school, classes in reading and writing are provided every day at both centres. They are also offered classes in hygiene, childcare, human rights and sex education.
The centres offer classes in patchwork, where the teenagers and women learn how to make beautiful blankets. Different shops donate the cloth used for this. They also learn how to make bags in many different colours, shapes and sizes using waste plastic bags. The bags are picked up from the street or from the dumpsite, then washed and thereafter woven to make beautiful bags. At the centres they also knit and crochet with yarn donated from Denmark. At the Filadelfia Centre charcoal balls are also produced. These are made by mixing soil and small waste charcoal together. Once dry, they can be used for cooking. Everything is made with a view to sell so that the women have an income, which enables them to buy food, pay for rent etc.
The greatest challenge is to make the two crisis centres self-sustainable as they only received regular financial support in the start-up phase.
NLAI now supports the crisis centres with a steady monthly donation, however it is NLAI’s partner, the Filadelfia Church, who now has the sole responsibility for the everyday activities and the centres’ further development. The centres now apply for funds locally and from Danida in Denmark in order to reach out locally with information campaigns and giving lectures at schools and public places on issues related to women’s rights and peace and reconciliation.
A “grandmother project” has also been started. Twelve grandmothers were given a sow, which they then had to care for. The idea of the project is that when the sow gets piglets, the grandmothers can then later sell the pigs and get an income to buy food, pay for rent etc. One of the piglets must be given to another grandmother, in order that the project will grow and more grandmothers can benefit from it. Eighteen grandmothers now have a sow.
The centre at Filadelfia
The centre is placed in one of the corners on the Filadelfia Church compound, with a protective wall around it. Within that area there is a dormitory, lounge, kitchen, offices and classrooms. A garden provides a space for the women’s children to play and these facilities all help in creating an environment where the women can feel safe.
The women who make use of the centre are as young as fourteen years old and several of the women have children. Up to twelve women with their children can live at the centre. NLAI finds sponsors for their children, so that they will be able to attend school, get an education and hopefully get out of the poverty that they are currently living in. It is a life transforming process that takes place at the centre where the women and the young girls get hope for their future.
The Centre At The Dumpsite
Susanne and Leif visited the dumpsite area for the first time in 2004, after hearing that people lived there. They were shocked by what they saw and by the needs of the women and children living in that area. People, pigs and vultures were all looking for something eatable whenever a lorry came to dump off a new truckload of waste. Hungry and filthy children walked around without shoes, where everything from plastic bags to used needles lay in heaps. Many were busy looking for things that possibly could be sold or used to make home brew, and the mothers would place their small children in cardboard boxes in order to work more freely. The hardship and the hopelessness was indescribable, and at that time there was no relief work in the area.
NLAI rented a house in the area and started a nursery school and an illiterate class for young women and children who had little or no former schooling. Other projects have since then been started in the area by other organisations. In May 2005 an all-day charity telethon in Denmark for the benefit of African orphans was held. NLAI was lucky to be among the organisations that received money, making it possible to open a permanent centre in 2007. The crisis centre is named Tumaini Jipya, which means “new hope” and is situated close to the dumpsite area.
New Life Africa Tumaini Nursery School with three class levels was opened in 2009 on the same compound. At the school approx. 60 children’s schooling and meals are sponsored through NLAI. The children get health check-ups, receive medicine every three months for worms etc. and in some cases hospital expenses will be paid for by NLAI.