Gail Taukuheke is not only a social worker, she is also an Anglican reverend, mother, wife and neighbour.
“I sit with people’s brokenness to the point that I have no words, but I try and create a safe space. We have too few safe spaces.
“Meanwhile we judge, name, shame and blame each other. We sit with our own trauma and the trauma of the situations around us,” she says, adding that she conducted 300 burials during the Covid-19 pandemic. Taukuheke said this at a stakeholders’ meeting held by the parliamentary standing committee on gender equality, social development and family affairs at Walvis Bay last Monday.
She said the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) is complicated and people specifically forget that those who are tasked with the responsibility to handle cases also experience trauma.
Taukuheke said GBV has various aspects that impact all community members.
She shared her and other’s experiences on trying to deal with the issue of social development and family welfare in the community, noting that she also has her own trauma to deal with.
“Last year I got to a point where I broke down because I was sitting with delayed trauma from burying 300 people during the Covid-19 period.
“We collapse because we have no idea how to cope. We are supposed to show a certain personality, while we are falling apart behind closed doors.
“We do not have safe spaces, because we are going to be judged, blamed and shamed.
“We have police officers who live in ghettos and do not have proper housing, but work for women and child protection units. They must come to work and stand up to advocate for someone else’s rights, when they themselves have lost their own voice.
“We have, however, been focusing on GBV without seeing it holistically for too long. Every person comes from a unit. How is it humanly possible for people to sit with their own trauma, be silent victims of abuse and still come back to work?” she asked.
She said available skills and resources are limited, for example, there are only two social workers under the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare for Walvis Bay’s children.
Taukuheke suggested that workshops are conducted where community members can listen to each other’s stories.
“That is when the healing and peace comes. Unless we create platforms to listen to each other’s stories and realise what it feels like to be in another person’s shoes, we are going to lose the battle,” she said. Meanwhile, pastor Jackey Fredericks from the Hosiana Parish at Walvis Bay said he deals with many nine-to11-year-old drug-addicts, which contribute to GBV.
“We are referring all these issues to the standing committee, but what do we do? Our moral values are broken. The church must not only be there on Sundays.
“We must start to talk openly about these issues. We must start to solve problems within our homes. We cannot put blame and work on others. We are the ones harbouring those selling drugs. We must start advocating this issue,” he said.
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