Celebrating a decade of the Jes Foord Foundation

PHOTO: Val AdamsonJes Foord is hosting a fun day.
PHOTO: Val AdamsonJes Foord is hosting a fun day.

THIS month marks 10 years of the proactive Jes Foord Foundation (JFF): celebrating a decade of helping, inspiring and working hard to make a difference in supporting survivors of rape and their families, and teaching behavioural change to strive for a society free from rape and domestic abuse.

JFF will be honouring Foord’s journey by hosting a family fun day to thank the community, family and friends for all their help and support throughout the first decade, on March 25 at WavePark Gateway.

The foundation is rooted in the personal journey of Foord and her horrific gang rape by four men, in 2008. As part of her healing process, she chose not to be another rape victim, but rather a survivor, and learnt to become a spokesperson campaigning on behalf of women and children who had gone through similar harrowing experiences.

South African statistics show that sexual assault, regardless of gender, is reported to SAPS every nine minutes, and these are only the ones that are formally reported.

Over the last decade, Foord and her small team have initiated various projects and campaigns: the Handbag Project, the Cinderella Project, establishing the Marianhill Counselling Centre, The Young Men’s Mentorship Programme, Learners Awareness Impact Program and the Actively Against initiative. The counselling centre provides need-specific counselling services for the community of Marianridge and nine surrounding communities, working with the SAPS and volunteers of The Victim Friendly Room. The centre helps address community needs, with trauma counselling, rape counselling and child play therapy.

Over the past 10 years, the foundation has reached over 370 000 people with its awareness programme in schools across KZN, and has given almost 3 000 hours of free trauma counselling to rape survivors and their families.

Dubbed the Handbag Project, the JFF has packed and distributed over 50 000 rape comfort bags to rape survivors all over the country. New or used handbags are donated and packed with items which assist a rape victim during the initial reporting process at the rape crisis centres ( the Thuthuzela Centres), as well as a personalised letter of affirmation, support and encouragement. A similar version is available for children, with age-appropriate contents.

The Cinderella Project collects second-hand formal gowns and suits in good condition for donation to boys and girls at underprivileged schools for their matric dances. The Cinderella project sees trauma counsellors visit these schools preceding the donations and deliver workshops which educate girls and boys about rape and the support offered by the foundation. The foundation also keeps a small collection of evening gowns and dresses that corporates and individuals can “hire” to contribute to this cause.

The Actively Against initiative was formed in 2012, with young sportsmen opting to wear green shorts to show support for the foundation. The initiative was supported by Jonssons Workwear — which has led to the One Million Rand Project, whose aim is for 1 000 pupils or supporters to raise R1 000 per pair of shorts to raise R1 000 000 towards the JFF projects.

Foord said: “My long-term goal is not to be needed. I’d like there to be no rape, no need for the foundation.”

See JFF: 0861 333 449 or admin@jff .org.za — Supplied.

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