TRAIL BLAZER: Rafiki Mwema co-founder Sarah Rosborg fought to ensure witnesses can provide evidence from a secure location separate frm the main courtroom in Kenya.
TRAIL BLAZER: Rafiki Mwema co-founder Sarah Rosborg fought to ensure witnesses can provide evidence from a secure location separate frm the main courtroom in Kenya. Marc Stapelberg

'I was really angry': Charity's big win in Kenyan courts

CN: discusses sexual assault, violence and testifying.

Charity win in Kenya: Rafiki Mwema co-founder Sarah Rosborg fought to ensure witnesses can provide evidence from a secure location separate frm the main courtroom in Kenya.

THE KENYAN legal system allows rapists to question, face-to-face in open court, those they have assaulted and raped.

Often it is children forced to survive this secondary assault.

Rafiki Mwema co-founder Sarah Rosborg realised all that was standing in the way of a video link system was funding.

She went about raising funds for a video link system to be installed.

Through a crowdfunding site they raised $22,000 over three days.

The Lennox Head-based charity was ultimately able to spearhead this Kenyan first and have two video link systems installed in the district with the move receiving strong support by the court officials.

Rafiki Mwema is a charity that operates in Kenya but co-ordinated in Lennox Head and specialises in creating a safe, empathetic and therapeutic environment for children who have been abused and assaulted in Kenyan district of Nakuru, not only assisting them to survive the court process but also to heal, to process and to ultimately thrive beyond the traumatic pain enacted upon them by those who lack such grace and courage.

"I believe this is so important for the safety of the children so they are not re-traumatised when they are testifying against their rapist,” Ms Rosborg said.

"In this case it was a three-year-old testifying and she ran out of the court crying.

"She attempted to testify three times and I was just really, really angry at the fact that she was being forced to relive the intimidation and fear because she was at the mercy of her perpetrator.

"Putting this video link system in means our children walk the back way into court, they don't have to see their rapist, they sit on a chair with their key worker who is like an aunty or uncle from our staff, and they just talk into a video camera.”

Rafiki Mwema was started 10 years ago, by Anne-Marie Tipper, from the realisation that because of a lack of funding children who had been assaulted were alone in high risk environments unable to heal or process the 'hell' they had been cast into.

"There were no homes that would take girls who had been raped because they were seen as used goods, as evil, it was their fault, and so they would often be placed in a remand centre which is like a prison for children,” Ms Rosborg said.

There was a need for a safe house.

Just 12 days after Rafiki Mwema was started, there were 22 girls at the house.

Since then the charity has raised $2 million in five years, currently assists 68 children with protective shelter and trauma counselling, has seen 122 children helped and reintegrated back into the community, and successfully built three safe houses with a fourth to be opened.

The charity currently has forty staff including staff that work on the farm or outreach staff who check on the 122 kids that have gone home, as well as assisting families in the process of making sense of what has transpired.

"You just cant sit back with all this injustice in the world and do nothing,” Ms Rosborg said.

"Everyday I hear more sad stories and some days you feel you just can't continue because what change are you making.

"I think it is the fire in your belly that makes you so angry from people ignoring this.”

  • If this story brings up issues for you, there are people you can talk to. 1800 RESPECT deals with sexual assault. If you don't want to talk, you can access their website. You can also talk to Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or access their website.