– by The Dignity Campaign
In 1989 God ignited a fire in the heart of Aukje Brouwer while she was reading through the book of Ruth. She felt a spark leap up within her soul when she read about Boaz inviting Ruth to join his female workers and work until the entire harvest was done. She knew without a doubt that God was inspiring her to come alongside girls and women and see their God-given dignity restored.
The birth of a ministry
Aukje had no idea about the how, when, or where; but suddenly the house-wife from a little rural village in Holland had a daring dream. It took a move with their young family from Holland to an early post-apartheid South Africa, 23 years of serving alongside her husband Toby in a NGO, and the traumatic experience of being threatened and robbed in their bedroom by three armed men, to give birth to this dream. The Dignity Campaign became a reality in 2012 and since than women from all over South Africa and Africa have been trained into dignity facilitators, helping girls and women find their identity, belonging, and purpose in God.
From participant to practitioner
One of the women who came to the training was Crystal Kannemeyer. She heard about the campaign and its vision and she decided to participate in a 3-day dignity training course because she wanted to get practical tools on how to support young girls in her community. During the training, Crystal was made aware that globally 32 million girls of primary school age are not attending school, 1 in 3 girls and women experience physical and sexual abuse in their life time and 1 in 10 girls in Africa will miss school during their period and eventually drop out of school as a result. This fueled the passion within Crystal in wanting to make a difference.
Girls with dreams become women with vision
Crystal sees daily the impact that a low self-esteem has on choices that girls and women make and the compromising situations they find themselves in due to lack of understanding and embracing their value and worth. “It’s disheartening to see girl’s dreams scattered and women not reaching their full potential and seeing them end up in a vicious circle of vulnerability.”
God’s heart for women
Little did Crystal know when she started to engage with the Dignity Campaign that God’s agenda for her life was much bigger than she had envisioned so far. During the session on God’s heart for women, she started to see herself through God’s eyes. Knowing that she was created in the image of God wasn’t new to her, but suddenly it became clear that God had not only redeemed and restored her, but had also released her into being an agent of change. The mandate that God gave to man and women to rule together and take dominion over creation hadn’t changed, and more than ever before she heard the call to rise up out of her own brokenness into continuing Jesus’ dignifying work.
Redeeming, restoring, and releasing
The training was a real eye opener. The opportunity to process her own dignity story before learning how to come alongside others was so healing. Getting an opportunity to share in a safe space redeemed her story and transformed it into a powerful tool that helps others become strong pillars of support in their communities. With the knowledge, tools, and support given by the campaign, Crystal now takes part in facilitating training to other women and organising dignity events for girls in her community. One of those events is a Dignity Day. Through a creative fun and informative programme, girls learn about their identity, belonging, purpose in God, body, puberty, their menstrual cycle, and menstrual management. To make sure that girls are never put in a compromising place in regards to their periods, they are offered a reusable sanitary product of their choice.
Together for dignity
When the campaign sensed that boys were also in need of pillars of support, the idea to launch a ‘DARE to be different’ programme for boys was born. To Crystal, this was a great surprise and joy – her husband Emlyn stepped up to the challenge and, together with a group of men, have made a start in getting the Dare programme launched by the end of this year so that they can start training men into dare facilitators and organise Dare days for boys. Crystal’s journey from a participant into being a practitioner in restoring dignity is just one of the many journeys travelled on the African continent by women who have gone through the training. A vital journey comes with many challenges, but soon the dignity sisters won’t be traveling alone as they soon will be joined by their dignity brothers.
Let’s join forces!
Please pray for us and join our Restore Dignity weekend in October in Cape Town or find out how you can be trained into a Dignity or Dare facilitator and implement this programme in your church, NGO, community, or school. Sponsor a girl or boy with a once off gift of R 300 to attend a Dignity or a Dare day. Become a Corporate Social Investment partner and sponsor our training programme. Find out more about our training and visit our website www.dignity.org.za / firstname.lastname@example.org
JOY! Magazine (August 2018)