YOKHUSELO Haven in Nelson Mandela Bay celebrated at a gala dinner on Monday night its 25th anniversary of providing temporary shelter, safe housing and a new life for abused women and their children in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Yokhuselo Haven is the umbrella name for two shelters, Prospect Hill Crisis Centre, in Central, and Yokhuselo Haven, at a secret location in the city.
Despite its influence it has only two permanent staff members, who live and work in the shelters and are on call 24 hours a day. Australian women’s rights activist Lindsay Ziehl, who has been with Yokhuselo for more than 10 years, is the supervisor at Yokhuselo, while Stephanie Dorfling supervises Prospect Hill.
"We are never closed, and when we cannot be here we have volunteers all the time, even on weekends,” said Dorfling yesterday.
She said the celebration this week at St George’s cricket ground was "fantastic”, uniting volunteers, founders, women it had helped, sponsors and well-wishers. Speeches covered the origins of the haven, with tributes in film, song and a new website unveiled.
Ziehl said that although Port Elizabeth lawyer Daryl Burman professed only to be a "small cog in a very big wheel”, he had been a "keystone” who started and kept the haven going for more than two decades. She said the organisation had made a difference in the lives of many women in abusive relationships and their children.
"I and the clients owe a lot to Yokhuselo Haven and the people who started this wonderful organisation. It has saved many, many lives over the years. This is a place of safety, love, caring and hope,” she said.
Ziehl thanked the volunteers and people involved in running both shelters.
"I love my job and find it very rewarding. As I live and work in the shelter, it affords me time to spend a lot of time with my clients and has given me over the years a great insight in the plight of family violence victims and taught me so much about how it can happen to any woman, whatever race, religion, age and education and financial group,” she said.
If you know someone who might need shelter from an abusive relationship, contact either Ziehl on (041) 581-4310 or 072-478-0054, or Dorfling on (041) 585-4265 or 076-312-7730.