A safe space for girls to talk about mental health

Life coach Nkosinathi Jack takes girls through their paces before Shalom launched its programmes at John Pama Primary School in Nyanga last Wednesday afternoon.

Despite facing what seemed to be insurmountable troubles, a Nyanga woman decided to do something to young girls battling with mental health issues.

Before Dimpho Mokhachane founded Shalom Haven, she had suffered from anxiety and survived sexual and physical abuse. At a young age she had been suicidal and last year she lost a friend who had been living with depression.

Rather than forcing her to give up, however, her experience gave her purpose. And so was born the non-profit organisation she founded last year to create a space for young girls to talk about issues that affect their mental health.

Nkosinathi Jack talks to Asiphe Nelisani.

To achieve these goals the organisation works closely with primary schools where it conducts sessions with 30 girls between the ages of 12 and13 years old. They also conduct house visits to educate parents whose children are involved in the programme, about mental awareness.

Ms Mokhachane said Shalom Haven wants to listen more than to educate and that the end goal is to make young girls feel heard and understood, and that their emotions are being carefully considered.

“Hence we will have different topics for each session .The facilitators will create a fun and educative environment for girls,” she said.

“I suffered depression for years. I was the victim of abuse, all sorts of abuse for years. It was at a very young age. I was suicidal. But all those did not put me down.

“I think God refused to allow the situation to rule over me. Just last year I lost a friend through depression, then an idea came. But I always had the idea to form something that would empower and help young girls. I asked myself, how do I become the voice for young children? Where can they have a voice? Shalom Haven was born out of all these challenges,” she said.

Last Wednesday, Shalom Haven launched a programme that will empower young girls at John Pama Primary in Nyanga.

Co-founder of Shalom Sandisiwe Molotsi and life coach Nkosinathi Jack had their hands full organising the girls.

Praising her friend for starting the organisation, Ms Molotsi said: “She realised that helping young people will help heal the country. It was her destiny.

“She was a victim of anxiety and sexual abuse so she had to do something about her experience. I also had depression. I was cheeky but did not know why I was like that until I met her and she explained it to me. I joined her and was determined to be part of the solution,” she said.

Ms Molotsi said the success of her organisation would be determined by women who managed to transform their lives and those of others.

The programme has also been launched at Ntshinga and Litha primary schools.

Founder of Shalom Haven Dimpho Mokhachane, right, shows young girls some of the skills she possess while the co-founder Sandisiwe Molotsi watches.