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Advocates Connect Conference Recap

Since 2010, Freely in Hope has equipped survivors to lead in ending sexual violence across Kenya and Zambia. Partnering with anti-sexual violence organizations, Freely in Hope launched Advocates Connect—a platform for professionals, practitioners, and activists with a commitment to anti-sexual violence efforts. Attendees are equipped with best practices that challenge systems that perpetuate sexual violence, strengthened through collaborations with like-minded stakeholders, and are contributors to collective resources that help build a world free of violence.

Attendees were provided with:

An opportunity to network and exchange strategies with advocates from Kenya and Zambia

Professional development opportunities through quarterly workshops and virtual and in-person networking events

Exclusive access to impactful educational resources on preventing and responding to child sexual abuse (market value of $499)

Freely in Hope’s first-ever Advocates Connect Conference was held on December 10, 2021, bringing together 76 professionals, practitioners and activists with a commitment to anti-sexual violence work. These advocates, working with 61 organizations joined the conference from 5 countries and 21 cities with one goal of learning and sharing best practices to end child sexual abuse. 

Advocates... connect!

Freely in Hope’s first-ever Advocates Connect Conference was held on December 10, 2021, bringing together 76 professionals, practitioners and activists with a commitment to anti-sexual violence work. These advocates, working with 61 organizations joined the conference from 5 countries and 21 cities with one goal of learning and sharing best practices to end child sexual abuse. Check out the map above to see where we all called in from to gather best practices in ending child sexual abuse!

what our organizations are doing well

At the conference, advocates shared how their organizations are responding to the problem of Child Sexual Abuse. The overwhelming majority of advocates agreed that their organizations are doing well in providing education and life skills on prevention (56%), with the least area of influence in parent and caregiver support (2%). This provided a meaningful way forward to know how all our organizations can work together to address the gaps to better protect children in our communities. 

THE PANELISTS

The panel of speakers shared insights on the barriers to preventing and responding to child sexual abuse, the psychological effects of child sexual abuse and the resources available to navigate them, the challenges in getting justice for child sexual abuse cases, and ways to navigate that process. Trizah Gakwa, Operations & Development Director at Freely in Hope Kenya, facilitated the conversation with Pamella Masakhwi, senior manager of survivor services at International Justice Mission Kenya, Lubi Kwnedekwema, Principal Clinical Psychologist at MNK Psychotherapy, and Suzanne Semenye, founder and CEO of Verde Group Ltd. From the panelist’s diversity of experiences, they agreed that the opportunity is for all organizations, cultures, and families to create a safe environment for children to thrive by empowering parents, establishing one-stop centers in more locations across the country, and provide trauma-informed care and education. By nurturing these roots, we would see happy children protected by law, children being their best, and establishing psychologically healthy communities worldwide!

survivors of child sexual abuse spoke out

We heard from the powerful voices of survivors of child sexual abuse sharing their stories of liberation through poetry and song, calling us to greater responsibility in fighting against child sexual abuse. Watch a spoken word performance by Faith, a Storytelling Fellow at Freely in Hope.

our opportunity trees

The conference culminated in the co-creation of opportunities that are the most positive transformative opposite to the problem of Child Sexual Abuse. Using the metaphor of trees, advocates envisioned a world that is safe and nurturing where children would be free to enjoy their childhood. They committed to play their part in creating this world by educating communities on Child Sexual Abuse, advocating against the vice on all platforms and influencing policy change to protect the rights of all children. Advocates brought their opportunity trees back to their organizations for further implementation.

our solution

Freely in Hope provided a solution that will be available to all advocates in 2022! Master Chimbala, renown speaker and television host from Zambia, interviewed Lydia Matioli, Freely in Hope’s Program Manager in Kenya, to announce her latest solution to ending child sexual abuse. In 2022, she’ll be launching Pendo’s Power, a children’s book that teaches lifesaving education and empower resources that prevent child sexual abuse. Pendo, a six year old girl from Kibera, prevents sexual abuse by teaching her friends about body autonomy, consent, safe touch, and the power of their voice! This illustrated storybook will empower both parents and children to respond to sexual abuse. Written in English and Kiswahili, children will not only learn a new language but also learn how to harness the power in their voice to speak up against sexual violence. Be the first to the latest updates on the release of Pendo’s Power and how you can get a copy!

As each one of us plays their part wherever they are, we draw closer to the realization of a violence-free world for our children!

Are you looking for resources to support your child protection efforts?
article by trizah gakwa

Trizah Gakwa is passionate about authentic, transformational leadership that sees the potential in people and organizations and courageously nurtures it. She has over 10 years of experience supporting the growth and sustainability of different organizations. As the Strategic Growth Director, she fosters a healthy team culture that anchors our work and provides strategic leadership to promote growth, build partnerships and sustain impact. Her first degree is a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and she is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership. Of life’s many gifts, she’s really grateful for her children – 8 year old son and 4 year old daughter. She loves to dance her way through life!

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