The new Rural South African constitution guarantees women's rights and protection. But in practice these ideas have not filtered down to rural areas at all. And indeed the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa has highlighted the plight of women in rural communities. Often the victims of oppressive practices, malicious superstitions, violence and rape, African women have known to been thrown out of their own houses and led to believe they deserve the abuse they are subjected to and are strongly encouraged to suffer their lot alone and in silence.
"Like any other prejudice, violence against women is a form of discrimination. The law does not tolerate it and it is high time that we educate society not to tolerate it either….. The equality clause .. Gives practical expression to our desire to see a society where women can freely play a decisive role in the development of our people, including their role as leaders in the process of change." Mapisa-Nqakula, RSA Minister of Home Affairs.
The Project :
The ToWo project aim is to give the women the opportunity to transcend their past trauma, thereby freeing their creative spirit, educating and allowing them to become the powerful, intiative and inspiring women the New South Africa so badly needs. The project aim is to allow a sense of mastery and to support life skills that have a direct influence on the ability of a woman to take decisions and to step into a leadership role in her society.
The project comprises of two components:
1. Video filming - Where women will be taught basic video skills, as a 21st century communication technology, in order to document their personal experiences in their own voice. These short films will be formed into a Dynamic Oral-History Archive, used for community building, lobbying, and empowerment.
2. Somatic Experiencing therapy - Simultaneously the women will meet a psychotherapeutic body-oriented method, which provides gentle and effective tools for Healing Trauma and resourcing strength and resilience in individuals and communities. Basic skills will be taught in order to later share with their sisters, families, and fellow community members.
We have trained in September (2007) women from the RWM (Rural Women's Movement), a women's movement in KwaZulu-Natal. The women have enjoyed immensely, and gained a sense of mastery in understanding trauma its effects in thier lifes and video skills. Cameras were left with some of the women to further document in the villages. A followup has taken place in 2008. We will work with other grassroots women groups in KZN, and Uganada, that gather poor, indigenous, landless women, advocating women's independent land rights and also addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS and its effect in the society. For that we need a basic commitment to a follow up phase within the community.
Our media project proposes to help women break the agonizing oath of silence, to talk out with clarity and courage, paving the way for others to do likewise. This opportunity to document their personal stories in their own voices, will lead to a sense of self respect and give validity to their lives, their culture and their world. This oral history film archive will then open the channels for community sharing and discussion, and will help to treat and shed the behavioral patterns that trauma and abuse imprint on a woman's nervous system and soul. In addition it will serve as a lobbying tool for social change locally and nationally.
The Traumatic experience narrows the victims' concept of reality and cripples her ability to realize her potential. Untreated Trauma often leads to perpetuating the cycle of aggression, and stands in the way of a community to step out of suffering.
We believe that the skills of Video and photography art, story telling, and Somatic Experiencing (trauma healing) based in deep listening, compassion, and body awareness can make a significant change in that.
Who are we?
The ToWo (Talking out Walking on) group is a collection of like minded Israeli professionals from a wide range of fields (filmmaking, video-art, psychotherapy, theater and movement). We are keen to share these areas of expertise beyond the scope of our everyday lives, with women who would benefit greatly from our experience and collective abilities. And theirs will benefit us. Life in Israel creates experience in the fields of personal trauma resolution, collective trauma, and the media documentation of such. The group has come together and designed a unique program for supporting African women who have been the victims of trauma. A program that is based in deep listening, body awareness, and resilience.
People have joined out of an open heart and good will.
ToWo Group members are:
Ditta (JuDitta) Ben David - ToWo project coordinator and director in IL, Trauma SE therapist
Keren Dunitz- Project co-ordinator, speciality with kids, and fund raising event
Orna Glass- Video and photo Therapy advisor and trainer, Musrara school of photography
Mikki Cohen - Media camp advisor
Gabriela Cohen - Assistant project coordinator, writer and researcher
Gina Ross- SE and Trauma therapy trainer and director of the ITI.
Dr. Raja Selvam- SE and Trauma therapy in rural international areas expert
Dr. Merav Tal-Margalit - Trauma and SE therapy researcher and advisor
Dr. Dafna Sering - Film and Media advisor, Hebrew University
Dr. Lila Moore- Women & Movement on Film, Spiritual cinema
Adi Segal, Naveh Antopolsky, Mazal Galili - film and photography assistants
Rachel Max, Efrat , Mindy Levy - SE therapy assistants
Orly Malessa – young award winning ethyopian/Israeli film maker ("mirrors"), Sapir graduate.
Rina Pappish - educational TV and proffessional documentary film director, ToWo advisor
Avishag Madar- assistant coordinator Israel.
Gili Gelmond- assistant coordinator, producer, fund raising events
to see: ToWo Bios here
Current stage of the project:
We have found ourselves collaborating with an Ethiopian women theater in Israel, Sorashim, a non profit organization in Israel, named BritOlam. An international Jewish-Israeli volunteer organisation, and a South African AIDS/HIV community, the WozaMoya in Kwazulunatal.
We have been contacted by a few South African individuals from the film industry, willing to support the project in the ongoing phase.
Detailed plans of the project have been made, and we are starting to raise funds.
We have implemented the first phase of the project, Sept-Oct 2007; A training camp in KZN, with the women from Zulu and AmaHlubi tribes. Twelve proffessionals from Israel, USA, and SA in co-operation.
We have been approached by other groups in KZN, SA and Uganada that have heard of our visit and are keen about bringing the program to their staff and community.
What can you do?
We need your help! This project could not manifest without kindness of others.
We are looking for collaboration and support. The project needs help with funding for flights, camp residence and board, insurance, and equipment that would remain there after the first camp within the villages for the ongoing phase.
We need second hand or a donation of video cameras, and tripods, for the women.
We are interested in contacting people who are interested in promoting and supporting projects of this nature financially, as well as with basic practical help.
The project needs means to buy equipment. We are planning to raise 150,000 $ in money and equipment. We have been generously supported by individual contributors, already collecting 15,000$, and more in-kind.
We could use help in organizing a Gala evening, or a House party for the project for example. We could give a lot of info and help with that.
(A more detailed version of the design and the budget can be given upon request)
Your spreading out the word will be appreciated, and we are inviting Proffessional women Video Photographers that would like to take part, as well as SE practitioners from around the world
ToWogroup@gmail.com - for queries, donations, and volunteers
We would be very happy to hear from you, Thank you!
ToWogroup@gmail.com JuDitta, team and advisors
Brit Olam, Israel
The only world we humans can have is the one we create together through the actions of our coexistence.
Maturana and Varela “The Tree of Knowledge"