May 28th, 2024

Sunrise Centre helping raise awareness about Uganda sex abuse

By Jensen, Randy on September 15, 2020.

Angela Baroldi and Audrina Steciw are helping to stage the "Women and Girls Rise Up!" designer undies sale at Decor Out The Door, raising awareness and funds to address gender-based violence and sexual abuse in Uganda. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

The Sunrise Centre is holding a unique fundraiser at Decor Out The Door in Lethbridge on Wednesday. The organization is trying to raise awareness and funds to address escalating gender-based violence and sexual abuse in Uganda through a “Women and Girls Rise Up!” designer undies sale.

“Gender-based violence and sexual abuse can affect anybody,” says Sunrise Centre director and founder Nicole Van Seters, who grew up in Coaldale. “We need intervention now before it’s too late. We have learned from the epidemics in Sierra Leone when they had ebola this abuse and gender-based violence was another silent epidemic that went hand-in-hand with that. The effects are long term. There are all sorts of psychological effects, women and girls can be physically injured, there are pregnancies – these are long-term effects and we can stop it now.

“We can’t wait until after COVID calms down and then start to see all the ripple effects,” she states. “So for a $10 donation, or $130 for a workshop, you can create a huge amount of impact.”

The problem of gender-based violence isn’t a new one in the area of Uganda where the Sunrise Centre operates its 300-child Sunrise School and Grace family and birthing clinic, acknowledges Van Seters, but with COVID-19 shutting down the country’s boarding schools it has gotten much worse in recent months.

“With COVID starting in March the schools in Uganda closed down,” she explains. “They are not expected to open until March 2021. What we started to notice at the clinic is we began getting an influx of teen pregnancies. These girls were being raped, and it was usually people they knew within their families, neighbours or community members. It was already a problem, but the pandemic sort of exasperated it.”

The Sunrise Centre’s in-house midwives and locally elected board asked if something could be done to help, and came up with the idea of workshops to educate girls and women who are at risk. But COVID has also hit the Sunrise Centre’s finances hard, and thus Van Seters came up with the undies sale campaign after receiving 100 donated pairs to raise the necessary money needed to pay for workshops.

“I am hoping people will come to Decor Out The Door and they will buy a pair of these designer panties, so they will get something for themselves, while supporting a great cause,” she says. “For each $130 we raise that will provide a three-day workshop for 25 women or girls. We serve 14 surrounding small villages. We are very rural. We are going to go out into each community and start doing these workshops, about 20 in total.”

The “Women and Girls Rise Up!” undies fundraiser will start at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The suggested donation is $10 per pair.

Those wishing to know more about The Sunrise Centre and its work in Uganda can visit The Sunrise Centre does have registered charity status, and can provide a tax receipt for those wishing to make a further donation.

Cheques can also be dropped off in person at Decor Out The Door.

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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