In honour of the late statesman, a team of IJR staff members spent time on Friday, 21 July 2017 at a female juvenile centre. The centre named Huis Vredelus is located in ElsiesRiver, Western Cape. The rehabilitation centre houses 67 young girls between the ages 13- 18 who are either awaiting trial or sentenced. Some of the girls at the centre are awaiting a foster home while some are housed under a place of safety.
The initiative was part of the Nelson Mandela International Day, a day declared by the UN General Assembly in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.
The IJR, as an organisation working in the justice sector and taking into account the recent upsurge in gender-based violence, saw it apt to make a difference to this community of young girls.
Elisha Kotze from the Wellness Committee at the IJR said: “Keeping in line with the youth and gender themes of the Institute, the Wellness Committee chose the centre because, the girls at this facility have faced horrendous pasts and it was appropriate that we try and bring smiles to their lives. At some point, girls are required to think about their personal hygiene and these care packs were assembled with the aim of affording these girls the dignity which was removed by both poverty and their conditions.”
The care packs will be given to the girls when they go home, hopefully serving as a reminder that they are survivors and that they are beautiful and stronger than what they think and what society labels them to be. The care packs included essential toiletries such as sanitary towels, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, body lotions and face cloth.
The Executive Director of the Institute, Mr Stan Henkeman joined the activities on the day. He provided the 67 girls with positive words on how to rise above their current situation. “The task of learning from and correcting past mistakes might seem like having to put gravel in your pockets but, if you do, it will turn into diamonds when it matters most, “said Mr Henkeman, adding that the girls should learn from and through the difficulties that they are experiencing.