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Safeguarding in Southern Africa

We recently heard from alumna Theresa Sanyatwe in Zimbabwe about her work, which includes an innovative use of television as a way of sensitising the community about safeguarding.Theresa is the Assistant Child Safeguarding Officer for the Jesuits in the Southern Africa Province (SAP). She reports that she has been given a free space on the national broadcaster in Zimbabwe (ZBC) “to run a show titled, ‘Safe House’, where we talk about various issues of safeguarding with different professionals.”

“Some of the topics … are child abuse, child custody, divorce and its consequences on children, suicide done by young people, unhealthy relationships among children or with children, children’s rights and many other. The programme is also shared on YouTube. This platform has enabled me to reach many people in Zimbabwe and provoke discussions and interventions concerning keeping the children safe from different forms of abuses,” Theresa said.

“During my years in Kenya, I came across the use of radio for raising awareness of children’s rights, safeguarding and related topics. Sometimes this was done stations run by the Catholic Church. A big project located in one of Nairobi’s informal settlements had its own community FM radio station. However, getting time on national TV has great potential to expand this educational outreach into the community,” said Br. Tony Shanahan, IADC Alumni coordinator. 

Theresa’s work also includes the more familiar activities of conducting training and workshops, helping church organisations to develop policies and setting up effective structures for implementing policies: “Some of the structures which have been set up in dioceses and parishes include safeguarding committees led by adults and child-led committees which help to make reporting of abuses easy and also handle some cases of child abuse. Mandatory reporting of child abuse has been emphasised in all our workshops,” Theresa said.