Jelly Beanz wins first-ever Dignity Award

By Global Fund for Children | July 16, 2020 | Africa & The Middle East | Freedom from Violence & Exploitation

Jelly Beanz, this year’s winner of the Robert D. Stillman Dignity Award, is supporting South African children who have experienced abuse and trauma.

Established in 2020, the Robert D. Stillman Dignity Awards honor outstanding organizations responding to the vulnerabilities and risks that affect the wellbeing of children and youth.

The inaugural award winner, Jelly Beanz, aims to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and abuse. It provides direct therapeutic services to South African children who have experienced sexual abuse, violence, and trauma and works to prevent abuse from occurring.

Alexander Kyerematen stands outside with Jelly Beanz staff and therapy dog.
GFC’s Alexander Kyerematen meets with the Jelly Beanz team and therapy dog Danni Beanz in August 2019. © Jelly Beanz

The organization offers in-depth individual and group counseling, as well as life-skills training on such topics as sex education, reporting child abuse, and positive discipline. It has also partnered with national government agencies to provide therapy to children and families, as well as to train multi-disciplinary stakeholders on child protection and mental health. Through its collaborative approach, Jelly Beanz embraces the notion that its mission cannot be achieved by one organization alone.

In a country where one in three children is sexually abused before age 18, Jelly Beanz is challenging the factors that underpin abuse and violence against children – and providing support when abuse has taken place. The global coronavirus pandemic has only added greater urgency to this work.

Our Bodies: Helping Parents, Caregivers and Teachers talk with young children about sexuality
Our Bodies is a book produced by Jelly Beanz to help parents, teachers, and caregivers have conversations with children about sexuality.

Even though South Africa’s lockdown restrictions have begun to ease, the majority of the children Jelly Beanz serves are still without sufficient food and warmth. They are living in highly stressful and violent environments, which increases their vulnerability to abuse. Gender-based violence in South Africa has increased significantly during lockdown, but Jelly Beanz has little data on child abuse statistics. This lack of data itself indicates that children are not able to speak out to report abuse, or that they may not live in places where they can disclose their abuse to safe and caring adults.

Aware of these challenges, Jelly Beanz has started using a variety of online tools to continue its child-protection work during the pandemic, while keeping in mind that many families and community members don’t have access to the internet. To complement its online outreach, Jelly Beanz shares resources with other child-protection organizations and uses multilingual radio programming to reach millions of listeners. Its Africa-centered approaches ensure that materials and interventions reflect the languages and cultures of the children it serves.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Jelly Beanz has found creative ways to continue serving children at risk of abuse. This includes creating new resources for phone and online therapy, developing a training program for childcare workers, and compiling therapeutic stories for children to help them cope with their fears and the realities of COVID-19. The organization also provided emergency assistance, including food and clothing, to children and families most in need.

“Even before COVID we understood that our child-protection and education services, frontline workers, and parents need to better understand the short-term and long-term impact of trauma, abuse, and neglect. During lockdown, levels of distress for many children have increased significantly, but we will continue to implement, teach, and advocate for children to be cared for and protected,” Jelly Beanz said.

Global Fund for Children is making its first-ever Dignity Award to Jelly Beanz in honor of Robert D. Stillman.

A former Board Chair of Global Fund for Children, Bob Stillman passed away on August 4, 2019. His dedication, kindness, and contagious joy left a defining legacy at GFC. The Dignity Awards honor Bob’s commitment to improve the lives of children and youth who are most in need.

Learn more about the awards.

Header photo: Jelly Beanz believes in hope for children affected by trauma and abuse. © Jelly Beanz

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