Nonceba Family Counselling Centre was founded in 1998 to respond to the problems of sexual abuse in the township of Khayelitsha, particularly the sexual abuse of children, which had risen to epidemic proportions due to the serious social problems affecting the township and a lack of capacity to cope from an overburdened police force.
The township of Khayelitsha is situated just outside Cape Town and is the largest in the Western Cape with an estimated population of 1.5 million people. According to STATS SA, more than 50% of residents are unemployed and live in abject poverty. The incidence of sexual violence is arguably the highest in the world and one out of every three children – boys and girls – will have been subjected to sexual abuse or rape by the time they are 18.
The organization’s original aims therefore were to reduce the levels of child sexual abuse; to provide support to those who have been abused and their families and to promote the prevention of abuse through education.
To achieve this, Nonceba developed a number of programmes under the headings of victim support and prevention of abuse.
The Victim Support Services provide assistance, intervention and counselling for children under the age of 18 who have been sexually abused, physically abused or neglected. There is residential safe house accommodation for abused or “at risk” children for whom it not possible to remain at home. This ensures that abused children receive the appropriate medical, psychological and legal assistance they need, for both the crisis stage and long term healing.
The Abuse Prevention Education Programme is intended to make children safer by making them – and the community – aware of how abuse can happen; how to prevent it and how to deal with it when it happens. Courses are run on parenting skills, health education, nutrition and first aid. This work is done in our own training facility, in schools, public halls, churches and via local radio and with increasing awareness and support in the community, is meeting with growing success.
Expanded Services. To continue to be successful, an organisation must remain relevant to the needs of the community it serves. This means continually assessing the practical impact of our programmes and communicating with the community regarding their needs. This has seen us gradually evolve from our original service concept 15 years ago where we focused on providing counselling to sexually abused children, to the growth of our services to where we now provide residential safe house care and after-school programmes for abused and “at risk” children, counselling for abused women and children, life skills programmes for abused women, court support to victims of sexual abuse and community outreach programmes to counter the abuse.
Fifteen years ago when we first started, the children who came to the centre were being abused in the main by adult caregivers, adult men who had been left in charge of the children whilst their partners were out at work. This has changed now to a situation where, in addition to abusive men, the perpetrators are often teenagers and gangs. Our programmes have to adapt to combat the new reality.
(See “Our Services” for more detail) (Hazel Black)
It is our sincere belief that this project is having a profound effect on thousands of young lives.