2019-11-06 SOUTH AFRICA

A beacon of hope in Atlantis

A beacon of hope in Atlantis, South Africa, is the St Clare’s Sanctuary for Women. The sanctuary, founded by the Holy Cross Sisters, is staffed by two social workers (Lynette Marrian and Nikita Adams) and three "house-mothers". For a period of three months, the sanctuary welcomes women, and their children, who have experienced domestic or sexual violence. These women are given the psychological, spiritual resources they need to restore their dignity, to rebuild their lives, and be given practical help to find a job or alternative place to live.

Since May 2019, María Bobillo Añel (Spain) and Juliana Fontoura (Brasil), from the Lavalla200 Atlantis Community have been collaborating at Saint Clare’s Sanctuary twice a week by offering educational and recreational activities such as meditation, yoga, arts and crafts, sewing, cooking (bakery and confectionery), music and dance.

In October, two special activities were a highlight for the women. The first activity was a "beauty day" that aimed to restore the women’s self-esteem and enhance the sense of their own femininity. The women were assisted with their personal make- up, polished nails, hairdressing and being fitted in beautiful dresses which they later modelled. The second activity was a "Cultural day". Each week a different country will be celebrated. The first country chosen was South Africa. The women presented their country, sang the national anthem, and prepared typical foods (bobotie and Gatsby sandwich). There was also a musical moment where all of them sang the song "We are the world". In the coming weeks the volunteers will organise a Brazilian and Spanish cultural day.

 For Juliana and María, the work at the Sanctuary is very rewarding. "Working in this very new and sensitive context, is a continuous learning process. Spending time with these women, and their children, is a real joy. We are very happy to have the opportunity to collaborate in some small way with these women as they deal with this traumatic and painful experience in their lives”.


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