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The Launch of SAFFI

Dec 02, 2010 — Categories: ,

Elizabeth Petersen first contacted FaithTrust Institute in 2004 and finally came for a visit in 2009 while she was studying in the U.S. on a Humphrey Fellowship. Immediately upon meeting her, we realized that her vision for her work in South Africa paralleled our work at FaithTrust Institute.

Elizabeth Petersen first contacted FaithTrust Institute in 2004 and finally came for a visit in 2009 while she was studying in the U.S. on a Humphrey Fellowship. Immediately upon meeting her, we realized that her vision for her work in South Africa paralleled our work at FaithTrust Institute. So we welcomed her as a colleague and began to share our experiences in working with faith communities.

Elizabeth PetersenShe returned home in 2009 to prepare to launch the South African Faith and Family Institute. Today, December 2, was the launch . . . and the main reason I came to South Africa. Here are a few of my remarks:

“FaithTrust Institute is privileged to come alongside SAFFI to advance our common vision to create a world free from violence and oppression. When we first met Elizabeth, we knew that she had more to teach us than we had to teach her. And this continues to be true.

We celebrate this important work in South Africa to mobilize faith communities to take vocal and visible leadership in addressing gender-based violence.

We ask God’s blessing on SAFFI. May it flourish in its ministry among the people of South Africa.”

The South African Faith and Family Institute has a powerful vision:

“To see individuals live their full potential in intimate relationships and families in a society that is free from gender-based violence.”

SAFFI LaunchAnd a powerful mission:

“To advance a coordinated, multi-sectoral, culturally competent restorative justice response to violence against women and children by:

      • Being a resource to faith communities to hold abusers accountable and to support victims and survivors
      • Challenging patriarchal traditions and other root causes of intimate partner abuse from a theological perspective
      • Supporting the promotion of scriptural and theological teachings that set people free in their intimate relationships”

SAFFI Launch Marie SpeakingToday was a gathering of clergy and lay leaders from Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Bahai communities in Cape Town who signed a pledge to work together to end gender-based violence. They began with the voices of two women survivors whose stories provided the much needed context for the whole day’s discussion. Then they continued from a place of confession for their silence and timidity, their misuse of sacred texts and failing of victims who reached out for help. They followed with small group discussions of sacred texts, issues for victims and perpetrators, issues for LGBTI communities, and the intersection between HIV-AIDS and domestic violence.

As we concluded, someone mentioned an image that I have heard several times since I arrived: the elephant of gender-based violence in our living rooms. And how do we eat this elephant? One spoonful at a time. These supporters of SAFFI have pledged to eat this elephant.

One other speaker reminded the participants that it was finally the power of the faith communities that brought down apartheid. And they are calling once again for this kind of commitment. My feeling is that if these people could end apartheid in South Africa, surely they can end gender-based violence.

Please join me in praying for their efforts. May God give them the strength and courage they require for this work.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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