Connect with us
Our anti-women-abuse ad becomes global phenomenon
Recent activities have turned the popular perception of The Salvation Army on its head. Last year we shocked South Africa by taking a stall at a Johannesburg ‘Sexpo’ to highlight our work against human trafficking. We made a fantastic impression – and garnered a lot of support! Now we’ve just launched an anti-women-abuse ad that Twittered throughout the world.
The ad, shown below, features a lovely young blonde in a famously controversial dress, with severe bruises over her body. The challenging headline reads: ‘Why is it so hard to see black and blue?’ with startling text reading: ‘The only illusion is if you think it’s her choice. One in six women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.” A phone number for anyone needing support is also included.
The true brilliance of this concept stems from the controversy created by the original dress (this was a copy) which, in February this year, had millions of people, internationally, arguing over its colour. The majority considered the strangely-lit garment to be white and gold, while the rest recognised it as blue and black. Scientists were called upon to explain the phenomenon of why people see colours differently.
Perhaps more brilliantly, Ireland Davenport, the Johannesburg ad agency that created the ad, did not charge The Salvation Army for its services!
From the moment the ad appeared in the Cape Times on March 6, it caused massive interest on social media – mostly positive. Within just hours the Twitters had hit more than 10 million people globally, with no signs of a slow-down.
Major Carin Holmes, editor of this newsletter, says: “We have been bowled over by the reaction to this advert and enormously encouraged that so many people appear to be passionate about fighting the abuse of women.”
Our facilities for abused women include Carehaven, a Cape Town shelter which offers sanctuary and short-term housing for up to 60 women victims and their children. While a strong Christian ethic prevails, all races and creeds are embraced and no one is turned away for lack of money.
To date Carehaven has helped over 5 000 women and children through a programme of support and empowerment that focuses on healing the whole person and so breaks the cycle of abuse. By providing safety, professional counselling, support groups, workshops, access to medical care and legal advice, Carehaven also equips women to cope with future problems more effectively. The home also offers HIV/AIDS counselling, kids’ day care, life skills, parenting training, development of practical subjects, spiritual strength, love and care.
Escape from the tyranny of abuse
By Major Moya Hay, Beth Shan administrator
t’s late. That time of night when normal city noises sound more menacing, more sinister. Our main gate bell rings and I peep through the window nervously. A mother and three children climb out of a police car and an officer shepherds them to the gate. I let them in and my heart breaks when I see the shocking state the mother’s in. She’s been brutally beaten and is trying not to cry as her frightened children cling to her.
I’ve only been at Beth Shan in Pretoria since January this year, but I know the drill. When the police leave, I take Lerato* and the kids to a family room. It’s cosy and a welcoming parcel – our ‘love pack’ – eases their tension as they find a teddy bear, chocolates and other sweets, toiletries, slippers, a memo pad and pen. Exhausted, the children soon fall asleep. I comfort Lerato, listen to her story and assure her that here they’ll be safe.
Lerato, a 30-year-old Swazi, has five children, but her partner has taken two away, leaving her with the three youngest, aged three, one and three months. “I will not let him take these children away from me,” she vows “I am a good mother and love them all very much. But that man . . . I’m sure he will kill me. He gets very violent, especially after a few drinks, and several times has threatened me with a knife.” After this night’s violent attack, neighbours called the police who brought her to Beth Shan.
For the first week Lerato relaxes and collects her thoughts. The second week Mildred Ramadikela, our social worker, evaluates her situation and together they work out a plan. Mom and kids will stay at Beth Shan from three to six months, depending on her progress.
At three weeks Lerato, now an entrenched client, starts her programme in earnest. Mornings include breakfast, house-keeping chores, devotion and exercise, followed by serious work towards rehabilitation. This includes group therapy and training in basic computer skills (most clients are untrained for any work). They’re also taught how to compile a CV to apply for jobs.
Afternoons are spent making crafts – four days a week for themselves to sell, the fifth for the home to sell and so raise money to make new crafts. From their personal sales they receive 50% and 50% is put away for them, so they’re taught to save! After dinner at six there’s free time until nine, which is bedtime sharp!
Lerato has now been with us for three months. She has learned to use a computer and how to make a variety of crafts which she can sell to earn some money. These achievements have restored some of Lerato’s confidence, her trust in people, and in her ability to make good judgements. She feels ready to face the world once more and intends to find a job and place for her and her children to live. “This place has given me hope,” she says.
*Not her real name
21 million victims of human trafficking
This year’s World Day of Social Justice (February 20) focused on ending human trafficking and forced labour. The focus was welcomed by The Salvation Army who urged South Africans to make every possible effort to bring to light instances of people, particularly women and children, being held against their will in acts of trafficking.
The Salvation Army is frequently contacted about women and children disappearing from their homes, many of whom are suspected of being abducted into human trafficking. The organisation’s hotline – 08000 737 28 – is considered a ‘safe’ way to pass on this kind of information. Use it.
According to the International Labour Organisation, there are 21 million victims of forced labour, of whom 4,5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation. For more information, visit our website here.
150 blessed years of caring for humanity
This year The Salvation Army is celebrating its 150th birthday. The story of how William Booth, a Methodist preacher, founded The Salvation Army in 1865 is the stuff of legends. And, indeed William and Catherine, his equally-remarkable wife, both became legends in their own lifetime.
Originally it was called the East London Christian Mission – meaning the eastern, poorest part of London, England, not our delightful coastal resort. Thirteen years later, the Booths were inspired to reorganise the mission as a military structure, since they were fighting injustice and evil on behalf of the Lord, and William became its first General.
The current world leader is General Andrè Cox who heads up an organisation now active in 126 countries (speaking 178 languages), its soldiers not only still bringing salvation to the poor, destitute and hungry, but fighting the modern evils of human trafficking, woman and child abuse, and drug and alcohol addiction. As Christians, Salvationists also meet the spiritual need of those seeking practical help.
As a supporter of The Salvation Army, you are undoubtedly familiar with the story of William and Catherine Booth. But perhaps you’re not so familiar with some of our ground-breaking events and the ‘trivia’ that make up the organisation’s personality. Few know, for instance, how the name came about.
In May 1878 while dictating a letter to his secretary, William Booth said, “We are a volunteer army.” Overhearing, his son Bramwell piped up, “Volunteer! I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” And so Booth Snr immediately substituted the word ‘salvation’ for ‘volunteer’.
The Salvation Army has its own flag, its own tartan, and its own hymns the words of which are often set to popular tunes sung in pubs. The Army’s approach was described as ‘the three Ss’ – soup, soap and salvation!
While William preached to the poor, Catherine gained financial support from the wealthy. She was also a religious minister – virtually unheard of at the time. As far as is known, The Salvation Army was the first religious organisation to permit the ordination of women.
Salvation was initially extended to alcoholics, morphine addicts, prostitutes and other ‘undesirables’, people unwanted in polite Christian society – which prompted the Booths to start their own church. However the use of sacraments (mainly baptism and Holy Communion) was excluded as they believed many Christians had come to rely on the outward signs of spiritual grace, rather than in grace itself. The credo forbids drinking alcohol, smoking, taking illegal drugs and gambling.
This code of abstinence caused problems in the late 19th century. A group called the Skeleton Army disrupted gatherings, throwing rocks, bones, rats, and tar, and physically assaulting members of The Salvation Army. Pub owners were at the fore since they were losing business.
In the United States, The Salvation Army’s reputation improved after its disaster relief following the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
The church remains a highly visible and sometimes controversial presence in many parts of the world. An odd ritual occurs in the US: for the week before Christmas 25 000 volunteers with red kettles (‘bucket’ to a South African) are stationed near retail stores to raise funds for the needy. This started in 1982 and the red kettles are now considered an essential part of the US Christmas scene. And it’s spreading to other countries.
The Salvation Army flag represents our war against sin and social evils. The colours symbolise: red – the blood shed by Jesus Christ; yellow – the fire of the Holy Spirit; blue – the purity of God the Father.
In 1994 the popularity and credibility of over 100 charitable and non-profit organisations in the US was studied. The Salvation Army was ranked fourth most popular in America.
The Salvation Army is one of the world’s largest providers of social aid, helping more than 32 million people in the US alone. In addition to community centres and disaster relief, the organization does work in refugee camps, especially among displaced people in Africa.
Blowing our own trumpets
There are few things more symbolic of The Salvation Army than our seemingly ubiquitous brass bands. Their origin, however, did not stem from the love of music but the need to protect Salvationists attempting to convert people in the streets of London! The band was their ‘body-guard’, distracting the crowds with their music. The standard of our bands is exceptionally high and they often compete at international level. Today we also have choirs, known as ‘Songster Brigades’.
We’ve mentioned The Salvation Army’s humanitarian aid after the Galveston Hurricane and San Francisco earthquake: in more recent times we’ve also been heavily involved in disaster relief after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 as well as after hurricanes Hugo, Andrew, Katrina and Rita in the USA. We were also there, helping victims of an earthquake in Indonesia in May 2006.
Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005 The Salvation Army has allocated donations of more than $365 million to serve more than 1,7 million people in nearly every state of America. The organisation was also one of the first relief agencies on the scene of the 2001 September 11 attacks in New York, providing physical help and prayer support for families of missing people.
In Australia The Salvation Army’s Emergency Services Support Units throughout the country provide food and other welfare to members of emergency services helping those affected by bush fires, floods, land search, and other large- and small-scale emergency operations undertaken by police, fire, ambulance and state emergency service members, as well as members of the public assisting them.
The Family Tracing Service (also known as the Missing Persons Service) was established in 1885, and is now available in most countries where we operate. The Tracing Service’s objective is to restore (or to sustain) family relationships where contact has been lost, whether recently or in the distant past. Thousands of people are traced every year on behalf of their relatives.
Today The Salvation Army’s activities are extraordinarily extensive and includes charity shops (colloquially referred to as ‘the Sally Ann’ in Canada and ‘Salvos Stores’ in Australia), shelters for the homeless, the abused, the addictive – of all ages – and the organisation provides humanitarian aid to developing countries.
Evaluating the last 150 years, we think of General Cox’s words: “It is the stories of individuals who found peace, change and transformation that have written Salvation Army history to date and it is the real, life-changing testimonies that write our story now and into the future.
Seen from here
While this issue of Reporter is largely devoted to celebrating The Salvation Army’s 150th birthday – not to be confused with South Africa’s own 130th birthday in 2013 – you’ll also notice our spirited fight against woman abuse and human trafficking. The image of a diffident, laid-back organisation is rapidly giving way to our true colours: a courageous, active Army fighting for the God-given rights of all.
Armed with all the information of who and what we are, knowing our history – and dozens of case histories – you have many fascinating stories to tell your family, friends and colleagues.
Imagine the kids’ faces when you tell them how your support has enabled us to save babies just hours old from being left to die of starvation or cold. How we help educate kids who’d otherwise be left on the streets. How we look after old people who have no one left to care. Amaze them with stories like ‘the dress’, The Salvation Army at a ‘Sexpo’ and the Skeleton Army’s scare tactics.
Relating all those powerful reasons why you support us will have your listeners deep in thought about their own roles in life. And what a wonderful opportunity to explain how much our humanitarian aid costs.
Right now we desperately need donations of any amount, especially on a regular monthly basis. One young artist is helping in her own way: she’s donated some of her exquisite drawings to The Salvation Army to use in our communications.
Never before has God’s work been more needed. As spiritual faith diminishes, so evil flourishes. Help us fight it . . . please!