During the current political crisis that the country is facing, SWAGAA has attended to political unrest cases, some of the clients were identified through SWAGAA’s toll free line as they self-reported cases related to the political unrest. SWAGAAconducted home visits, hospital visits, disseminated food hampers to survivors and also assisted with specialized medical care to children who were injured.
Soldiers and police officers were deployed almost in every region in the country intimidating a lot of people inclusive of children. It is with obvious reasons that such act has caused a lot of commotion in the country as a whole; most children andwomen were allegedly accused of being part of the struggle which then later on became even more violent. Children were shot in different parts of their bodies, spinal cord, leg, foot, thigh, stomach and other areas. These children were hospitalized for months without any signs of remedial, some were also incarcerated as young as the age of fourteen years (14).
A lot of people were injured during this time of political unrestand they were also accused of different things including the following: Blockades and tyre burning, arson, looting from shops and Strike action. However, all these actions have caused death to a lot of people. About 5 children (Known to SWAGAA) lost their lives in the month of August as a result of the political unrest. The political crisis has also caused deep sadness, anger, trauma and brewed hate amongst the families of the deceased children, such that they want to sue the government.
SWAGAA’S PREPAREDNESS TO DEAL WITH THE POLITICAL CRISIS
SWAGAA has qualified and trained staff that is dedicated to providing quality service to emaswati. As an organization we are constantly looking to provide support for staff and to build their capacity to improve our quality of service. On the month of September 2021, all SWAGAA staff was trained on trauma counselling. The training was on the COURRAGE methodology, which is a narrative therapy technique for working with individuals or groups who have experienced hardships or traumatic incidents. The methodology that SWAGAA staff was capacitated on, seeks to honor the strengths and skills people use especially women in the face of pain and grief. It is with no doubt that parents of the victims of the political unrest were directly and indirectly affected as some of them were specifically victims themselves. However, everyone needs to be assisted in understanding and coping with, processing emotions and memories tied to traumatic experiences with the end goal of enabling every individual including women to create healthier and more adaptive ways to deal with stressful situations. The training became a personal encounter for the staff as service providers to receive the help before reaching out. The training was beneficial more especially because it came at theright time, when as a country we are experiencing issues of the COVID pandemic compounded by the political unrest; which came with a lot of trauma or traumatic incidents for a whole lot of Emaswati.
SERVICES AVAILABLE TO EMASWATI
Different individuals have been provided with specialized medical care services as some could not receive further assistance especially from government hospitals hence the need for specialized medical care to clients. They were also provided with transportation for their day to day hospital visits. Some clients were paid for their hospital bills when they got discharged. Other services that children and some women have received, include assistive medical devices (crutches) for thosewho are not able to walk.
Psychosocial support/ counselling was also provided to the children, women, and men as they have all been traumatized by their experiences and the whole situation. Also, families of the deceased have been provided with emotional support(counselling). Food hampers were also distributed to the families of the affected children as a way of showing support, which will aid in cutting costs for the family and ensure recovery as survivors need to be well fed in order to take their medication and regain health and strength.
SWAGAA formed a relationship with lawyers in supporting most clients who were incarcerated, especially children. The lawyers have assisted with legal representation to both children and older persons. Recently with the ongoing school protests, SWAGAA assisted the children who are still to appear before court with court preparations; as they are accused of strike action, damage of school property and arson.
REPORT AND GET HELP
We therefore, appeal to the public to share information about the available services and raise awareness on how one can go about accessing the services, which are all free of charge. Emaswatican call our toll-free line 951 or SMS “SWAGAA”to 8500 and report a case; we will need the fullname of the survivor, place of residence and contact details.
Most of the cases that have been reported, the clients are untraceable and it becomes very difficult to give assistance. We received up to 102 cases related to the political unrest and of those; 61 were confirmed and received services and the 41 remain untraceable. Out of the 61 clients 45% were assisted with food hampers, 30% with specialized medical care - including assistive devices (crutches, false teeth and transportation for their day to day hospital visits) and 25% with legal representation for their court cases.
The reason for untraceable cases is that, a lot of the cases referred to the organization are without contact details nor places of residence; providing no means to locate the clients. Hence, it may seem as if there is a less number of assisted clients. With the recent ongoing protests it is difficult to reach out to the different people that have been affected. Assessment is done telephonically which becomes a bit of a challenge pending clients’ contact details.
SWAGAA Director with victims of the political unrest