A shoulder to cry on for rape victims

BEING a rape survivor, Nobesuthu Javu, knew she had to do something to help others who went through the same ordeal. She believes sexual abuse has a way of silencing victims and the trauma can lead to hopelessness. Affectionately known as Nobza, the Eastern Cape-born activist has opened Ekuphumleni Restoration Home, known as Thy Rest, which operates in Seshego in Polokwane, Limpopo.


A registered debt counsellor by profession and a psychology student, Nobesuthu saw a need to empower young women on how to handle sexual abuse cases. Through the centre, she encourages people to talk openly about sexual abuse. “After establishing my career in the field of finance, I could tell something was still missing. I knew it had to do with helping others. As a rape survivor, most victims can relate and feel free to open up about what they went through,” says Nobesuthu. “There’s a saying that goes, ‘You cannot give what you do not have’, so I counsel from my own journey from healing to restoration.” The centre opened in 2015 after Nobesuthu purchased a house with the aim of turning it into a home for young women in need of help. “The centre offers a programme which caters only for women, but other programmes such as counselling, skills development and reintegration cater for all genders,” she says.


Thy Rest caters for survivors of rape, human trafficking, incest and women who want to leave prostitution. Nobesuthu says they are able to identify victims through referrals mostly from the police. “Others are walk-ins who have to go through a strict screening process to ensure safety and privacy is well maintained at the centre,” she says. “We are currently in the process of renovating the structure and installing necessary security features. We also do outreach programmes by distributing toiletries to sex workers to show how much we care about them.”


According to Nobesuthu, the centre relies mostly on donations. “In 2016, we received a grant from the National Lottery Commission of South Africa, but we rely on any kind of support. On a monthly basis I support the running of the home from my salary,” says Nobesuthu. “I must emphasise that funding is a challenge since sponsors require centres to be in operation for two to five years before they can offer financial support, but I believe in God and have faith in Him to open doors for financial resources.”


She says one of her plans is to convert the home into a 72-hour crisis centre for screening purposes and raise funds to acquire a bigger space. “This will accommodate more survivors and be a rehabilitation home for substance abuse victims and a manufacturing factory, which will create jobs for survivors. It will also generate income to finance operating expenses. There will also be a training centre for skills development to empower our clients and lastly a clinic to provide health needs to our clients,” explains Nobesuthu. She adds that her long-term goal is to focus solely on Thy Rest to make a difference in people's lives on a larger scale.


Nobesuthu says she believes that if it’s God’s will, it is God’s bill. “If you have a calling or passion to help others, don’t wait for a conducive environment or perfect timing or until you have resources, that moment will never come,” elaborates Nobesuthu. “Start from where you are and what you have. You will never make it in the business of helping others until you have a heart of giving, mostly you will have to sacrifice your own comfort for the comfort of others. As my mentor Thuli Mazibuko would say, ‘Only the called understand the calling.’ A calling will get you out of your comfort zone, but be assured that if it is established to glorify God and to help others; it will see the light of the day.”