The organization,’NERT’, (National Emergency Response Team) affiliated to the National Department of Social Development, focuses on social as well as gender-based inequality. This team of trained professionals from Gauteng is currently touring the Western Cape, doing workshops and handing out gift packs to various benefactors. Last week, female students from Schoonspruit Secondary in Malmesbury received ‘Care’ packs when this organization paid the school a visit. What made this occasion special, was the fact that one of the members of the ‘NERT’ team, André Macelli, came all the way from Gauteng ‘to pay it forward’ to his alma mater.
Originally from the farm, Driefontein, close to Malmesbury, André matriculated from Schoonspruit Secondary in 2001. After studying theology and being involved in ministry since the age of 23, his career path changed when he joined the organization, NICDAM, (National Institute Community Development and Management, based in Centurion (Gauteng).
This organization deals with training and development donor funding programs on a national and international level. They develop and do training in different sectors and offer accredited and non-accredited courses as well as capacity building courses.
Within the health sector they focus on community healthcare workers and home based care workers with regards to HIV, TB and now also COVID-19.
In the social development space they focus on the ‘victim empowerment program’, of which the National Department of Social Development is the custodian.
This program deals with victims of crime, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, as well as child protection, older person abuse, substance abuse and social crime prevention.
The victim empowerment program is however the program that they are currently putting a lot of emphasis on and incorporated into this program you will find ‘The National Emergency Response Team’ (NERT).
In 2013 the government started a project that covers gender based violence and opened a command centre. This centre operates 24/7 and offers counselling in a professional capacity.
People can call them on their helpline, send an sms or can even send a ‘Please Call Me’ if they do not have airtime, and callers can remain completely anonymous.
What is amazing about this service though, is the fact that this call centre is based in Pretoria, but they will locate exactly where you are and inform your nearest police station.
It is together with the gender based violence command centre (UNiTE), that NERT, provides psycho-social support services which in basic terms means counselling.
These counselling sessions are usually done over a period of 3 days and helps with psychological ‘containment’. This is to help and prevent the victim from being consumed by the trauma they went through and to contain the situation. Making sure that the victim is referred to the closest place of safety where they can also receive the help they need.
During the presentation huge emphasis was put on the social pressures that our youth faces on a daily basis. That these challenges can often put them in precarious situations, but that they should not allow it to cloud their judgement. That it is okay to say ‘no’ and to always put their safety and wellbeing first. The following numbers are their ‘Hotline’ numbers:
Stop GBV Helpline: 0800 150 150
GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428
Childline SA: 0800 005 555
Mrs. Celeste Arendse, teacher and representative of the support team at Schoonspruit, as well as the principal, Mr. Raynard de Jager, wishes to thank both, NERT and UNiTE, for taking the time to address these students and for the gift packs that they donated.