Women from Lavender Hill are using their stories of hurt, abuse and brokenness to build up other women through a book.Seven women from the area have published a book called Women Surviving Lavender Hill. Through the autobiographic book they tell their stories to help other women in the same situation. The New World Foundation (NWF), a non-profit organisation which focuses on community development, helped the women write their own stories.Kim Pillay, programme manager of NWF, who facilitated the project, says that the project started about three years ago and it took two years to put the book together. “We decided to start this project so that women can use writing as a healing process, which we were becoming aware of being a powerful tool. We wanted them to write their own stories and in the process heal from what they have been through. The writers from the start indicated that they wrote to help and empower other women who are going through what they have been through,” she says.“Most of the women writers didn’t finish high school and some not even primary school, but they could write about their own lived experiences. The main message of the book is that there is help out there. You are not alone, talk about your struggles so that you can be helped,” says Pillay.Pillay says she applauds these women for their bravery. “Some wrote about abuse from some family members who are still alive or whom they live with and are living in the same Lavender Hill community. This is very brave of them. They write different stories of abuse, being poor and how they had to fend for their siblings whilst they were still young. Some write about how they have survived domestic violence. They did the writing themselves to heal and help other women, a selfless gesture.” One of the women who wrote her story in the book, Veronica Kroukamp, says her marriage was a bitter struggle. “My husband used to beat me up. I remember I had to work until I gave birth because my husband was not working. There were times that I went to bed hungry. That was the most difficult thing, especially when I was pregnant. I was so bitter and broken that one day I gave my child to my husband and said: ‘Here is your wish, look after your fish,’ and I walked out. It was the darkest part of my life. People talked to me and they told me about the courses at NWF,” she says. “By going to the classes I made a decision not to let my children suffer. I wanted to divorce my husband but I didn’t want my children to go through what I went through when my parents separated. I decided I would be there for my children. That made me strong. Watching my children grow up also helped me grow inside. All I can say is: Let’s heal and be strong. Make the right decisions. There is help out there; you just have to reach out for it.”The book can be bought through the writers or NWF for R50 each. V Contact Kim Pillay on 021 701 1150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.