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“My name is Israel (not his real name) and I am a teenage boy. I was sexually abused by my grandmother in April 2022.  I have stayed with my grandmother since 2015 after my mother remarried and left me in her care. I have never had a relationship with my mother.  Since I was born, I have never met my father nor my paternal relatives. My grandmother was responsible for taking care of me, making sure that I am fed and clothed…she was a mother figure to me.


One day I returned from school early because I wanted to help my grandmother with household chores since she was sick.  When I got home she was in her room, I knocked and she asked me to get in. I found her laying on the bed half naked I apologized for getting in because I thought I did not hear her properly and went in without her permission. As I turned back so I could go back she insisted that I get in and help her get up. I was hesitant to assist her at first but she reminded me that she was sick and really needed my help. When I got close to her she began fondling me and proceeded to sexually abuse me. When all this was happening I could not believe it, I felt powerless it was as if something had taken over me.


The following morning my private was swollen and I could not walk properly. I tried urinating when I was at school and the pain was unbearable. I got scared and went to the Village Health Worker who got in touch with the Musasa mobile One Stop Centre team who explained to me that what happened to me is not right, and they had to get in contact with the Department of Social Development to report my case to the police. The Department supported me to find a place to stay since going back home was not safe for me. When I got the news that my grandmother had been arrested, I felt bad but the social welfare officer and the counsellor assured me that it was for my safety and protection.


Whilst I was at the safe house I was assisted with transport to go for age estimation since I do not have a birth certificate, as well as transport to court. I was accompanied by the social welfare officer.  When the case went to court Mbuya (grandmother) was charged with rape and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. I am grateful for the assistance that I got. I am glad that I was brave enough to seek for help at the mobile OSC, otherwise I would have been raped countless times because I loved my grandmother very much and would have been silent about it. Right now I am living with my foster parent though I am still scared and finding it hard to trust anyone. The counsellors constantly check on my wellbeing and I greatly appreciate it.”


Israel is one of the many survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) who are being reached with critical support under the Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP). Funded by The World Bank, ZIRP is a three-year response to the devastation left by Cyclone Idai in March 2019. It supports inter-sector post cyclone recovery initiatives, through resilience building efforts in worst affected areas in the context of a humanitarian–development nexus. Under the ZIRP, UNFPA through partners such as Musasa is helping reach survivors like Israel with essential Gender Based Violence services.


One key intervention under ZIRP is the delivery of GBV mobile services in remote and hard to reach areas, through the mobile OSCs model. The model is run by multi sectoral outreach teams composed of health care service providers, counsellors, paralegal officers, and police victim friendly officers. This model enabled Israel to access relevant services with the support of community based workers. Community mobilisation for GBV prevention and surveillance conducted by community workers –Village Health Workers (VHWs) and Behaviour Change Facilitators (BCFs) –integrate with the mobile OSCs and other relevant service providers as they refer GBV survivors. BCFs/VHWs work closely with service providers to facilitate timely referral and access to life-saving services for survivors. Within ZIRP, BCFs/VHWs work with other community based workers that include the agricultural extension workers sensitising on GBV and referral pathways.


“Community-based Gender Based Violence surveillance is an important aspect of Gender Based Violence prevention and response in communities as it facilitates timely access to life saving services for survivors especially in cases of sexual violence which is a medical emergency,” said UNFPA Technical Specialist - GBV Ms Verena Bruno.”


For Israel and many other girls and boys the availability of these services are life changing.


By Bertha Shoko with additional reporting from Musasa