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Trauma centre celebrates 15 years of service

by Gabi Khumalo
on 15 Jul 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Cape Town's trauma centre for the survivors of violence and torture celebrate 15 years of effective emergency service.

The centre, which was officially launched in 1993, provides for the mental health needs of ex-political prisoners, returned exiles and other victims of political violence and repression.

The beginnings of the centre date back to the early 1980's when various progressive organisations were formed to address the broad needs of many victims following repression and human rights abuses by the apartheid government.

In response to the changing needs of the population since its official launch, the centre has since grown to providing services to all individuals and communities, who are affected by violence and torture.

Executive Director of the Centre, Vimla Pillay said the centre continues to actively assist in healing and transforming individuals, groups and communities.

"During the recent xenophobic outcry the centre did not waste any time in assisting and mental health volunteers continue to address the psycho-social needs of those displaced by regularly visiting the sites, offering supportive counselling and referring for specific needs.

She noted that the conditions of the larger temporary shelters as well as the winter weather with its extreme cold and rain have made the process challenging.

The centre coordinates a 365 days, seven days a week, 24 hour response mobilising team.

The team consists of 40 professional counsellors and 90 community volunteers who provide a mental health response within large-scale emergencies or when emergency staff are emotionally overwhelmed.

"The centre is also the nominated lead agency when it comes to large scale emergency services," Ms Pillay said, adding that the mental health service providers saluted the work of many volunteers across Cape Town in helping to alleviate the suffering of many displaced people.

She acknowledged the long standing patronage and association of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Kader Asmal, Ahmed Kathrada, Graca Machel and Prof Leslie London, whose support has enabled the organisation to celebrate 15 years. - BuaNews

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