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Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted. That is why SADAG created SPEAKING BOOKS and revolutionized the way healthcare information is delivered to low literacy communities.

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TRAUMA CENTRE Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela have all advocated for a violence-free society. Now a Cape Town based organisation is taking up this mantle, providing services to victims of violence and educating communities. The Trauma Centre in Zonnebloem provides violence prevention and community trauma psychosocial services to those affected by violence, explains director Valdi van Reenen-Le Roux. ''Violence prevention programmes focus on changing people's mindsets about and advocating for policy reform that will bring about safer communities. We believe that a non-violent society can only come about when each person practises non-violent ideals and values,'' she says. Violent society According to Health24.com, trauma in South Africa is common owing to high rates of violent crimes, including physical and sexual assault, hijacking and domestic violence. Eight out of 100 individuals will develop Post Traumatic Street Disorder (PTSD) at some time in their lives. This is more prevalent in women, who are more than twice as likely as men to have the disorder. Treating PTSD is vital to preventing its debilitating effects, says South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) spokesperson Cassey Chamber. ''If left untreated PTSD can lead to depression, anxiety or panic disorders. It can also lead to behaviour such as wanting to hurt oneself, alcohol and drug abuse, tiredness, stomach pains, diarrhoea, eating disorders, breathing problems or asthma, muscle cramps, back aches, sleeping problems and heart problems,'' she says. In the first half of this year, the Trauma Centre provided over 4 000 people with trauma counselling services, says Van ReenenLe Roux. This number is expected to exceed 6 000 by the year end. Treating trauma While some are able to recover from a trauma as a consequence of violence without psychological services, there are many others that need support to prevent traumatic responses from affecting their lives negatively, Van Reenen-Le Roux explains. ''Psychological services support people to process their traumatic responses in an appropriate way, particularly when they feel isolated and vulnerable. ''These services help people to come to terms with the trauma and its impact on their lives so that they are able to function adequately at work, school, with their family and in the community. Unresolved trauma can have a devastating effect on people and their families' lives,'' she says. Any person, family or group that has experienced trauma as a consequence of violence can access the centre's services, Van Reenen-Le Roux says. A number of types of violence are addressed, such as suicide, domestic violence, sexual offences, armed robberies, physical assault, hijacking, traumatic bereavement, gang violence, torture and xenophobia. ''We also provide trauma debriefing services for businesses which have experienced an armed robbery, hijacking or other crimerelated incident. Frontline workers such as educators, police officers, social workers and community leaders can access self-care programmes to combat various trauma as a consequence of exposure to violence on a daily basis,'' she says. Refugees and asylum seekers, farm workers, farming communities, women and children, torture survivors and community workers are all given priority care, Van Reenen-Le Roux says. ''People can call, walk in or be referred for counselling services.'' Healing process Betty was in a violent relationship for seven years, during which physical abuse was a daily experience for her and four of her children. The children were so badly abused that they had to be removed by a social worker, Betty says. ''He used to beat me badly. One day I came home from work and my children were being taken away. I felt like the earth could open up and swallow me. I had such a hole in my heart and fell into depression,'' she says. Leaving her partner and the city she was living in was the only way she could get her children back, Betty explains. ''I had to choose between my job or my children,'' she says. Since moving, Betty has accessed weekly counselling. ''This has really helped. It's not easy and the trauma doesn't just go away,'' she says. Depressive episodes still often sneak up on her. ''Something triggers it and everything just comes flooding back,'' she says. ''But in counselling, you can speak about your true feelings. When you're done with a session, you feel so much better. I'mbeginning to heal.'' Breaking the cycle Breaking the cycle of violence is also an important part of their work, Van ReenenLe Roux says. More than 7 000 people received traumapsycho education last year. ''Our biggest challenge is when violence has become normalised and an accepted solution to all life's challenges. It is difficult to change mindsets that are deeply entrenched in supporting violent means. Swearing may not be viewed as a violent act even though it is abusive and hurtful and bullying affects so many schools, with some parents instructing their children to take revenge by fighting back when they are bullied,'' she says. The centre runs 15 school-based trauma counselling services — in Elsies River, Manenberg, Belhar and Athlone — and com munity trauma counselling clinics in Manenberg, Belhar, the West Coast, Khayelitsha and Woodstock. However, funding their work remains a challenge, says Van Reenen-Le Roux. ''Most funders prefer to fund projects where there are tangible outcomes. With trauma counselling, it is difficult to measure the impact of our work. Professional, registered staff who are competent and experienced to deal with the effects of violence on an individual, family or community's level of psychological well-being are costly but worth the investment. Violence is one of the prominent causes of death and is a public health challenge globally yet victim redress is often not a priority,'' she says. Betty is an assumed name. / The Trauma Centre has been selected as the charity beneficiary of the People's Post/TygerBurger Hot Summer Groove concert which takes place at GrandWest on Saturday 6 December. Tickets to the event — which features performances by, among others, Alistair Izobell, Emo and Loukmaan Adams, Blackbyrd and Ramaine Barreiro-Lloyd — cost R130 and R5 of each ticket sold will go to the organisation. As an added bonus, we will be giving away a car at the show. Tickets are available at Computicket. CHANGING LIVES The Trauma Centre in Zonnebloem is breaking the cycle of violence by providing counselling to victims of trauma. PHOTO NICOLE MCCAiN HeadLine Hope to heal the broken

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