Through a partnership model UZIKWASA shares reflective social change approaches with interested CSOs in Tanzania. In February 2021 we supported our partner AJISO in facilitating a reflective training to the NPA committee in Kirongo Samanga ward in Kilimanjaro. As participants reflected about drivers of GBV and child abuse they shared how the use of traditional cultural practices has changed over time: In Chagga communities the Isale tree has been a sacred plant and symbol of hope, protection and reconciliation. Over centuries. Unfortunately, the Isale customs has become a means to silence victims of sexual violence and their families. A rapist who takes Isale leaves to the parents of his victim can expect to be forgiven and the case is closed. No one would dare to take such a case to court because of the perceived power of the Isale plant. The sacred plant had turned into a tool that enables impunity of sexual crimes.
The AJISO team facilitated NPA members to deeply reflect and ‘feel’ for themselves how a violence victim must feel to see her perpetrator get away with his crime. As participants were practicing empathy they started to ‘see’ their own roles in making change happen. After finalising their GBV action plan NPA members shared their insights with the rest of the community in a powerful theatre play: A child hands Isale leaves to a Chagga Elder saying this:
“We children are tired of being raped,
we are tired of being sodomized…
We children want to study…
Our Elders and parents please accept these Isale leaves!
They will save us and end violence against us children.”
The play touched people deeply and action followed on the spot: A community taskforce was formed to work with the NPA to end misuse of the Isale customs. Mzee Marando Amos, a member of the new taskforce assures his community: ”From now on Isale will bring back happiness to our families and it will wipe away our tears.”