IMBISA Safeguarding participants: Sr. Otsetswe, Botswana and Sr Virginia Fungisai, South Africa. IMBISA Safeguarding participants: Sr. Otsetswe, Botswana and Sr Virginia Fungisai, South Africa. 

IMBISA: Information and awareness are essential tools for preventing abuse, say religious women.

Southern African religious women met recently to learn and share more about issues of Safeguarding minors and vulnerable persons.

Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.

The IMBISA workshop on Safeguarding minors and vulnerable persons held at the Padre Pio Spirituality Centre in Pretoria, South Africa, attracted religious women from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

IMBISA stands for the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa.

The three-day workshop was facilitated by Sr Anna Theresa Nyadombo of Zimbabwe and Fr Adriano Jose Ukwatchali of Angola.

Zero tolerance for abuse

At the end of the workshop, the nuns released a brief statement calling for more awareness on issues of Safeguarding. They spoke of their satisfaction with the workshop, which they said had equipped them with information, knowledge and skills to work towards zero tolerance of any form of abuse.

“We are grateful for the workshop which covered the following topics: Signs and indicators of sexually abused persons; prevention of abuse; spiritual trauma and pastoral care for victims and survivors,” said the IMBISA religious women. They added, “We are committed to promoting the aims and vision of IMBISA in our respective countries, where everyone will operate in an inclusive approach to promote collaboration, unity in diversity, communion, participation and mission in a Synodal Church.”

Prevention is always better

The religious sisters called on the Church leadership in the IMBISA region to ensure that all episcopal conferences have, in place, policies that address Safeguarding concerns.

One of the facilitators, Sr Anna Theresa Nyadombo of the Handmaids of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (HLMC), told Vatican News that information and awareness were essential tools for preventing abuse.

The R’s of Safeguarding

 “It is also important to always understand the importance of the five R’s of Safeguarding because if you don’t understand the procedure, then it’s difficult to deal with cases of abuse,” said Sr Nyandombo.

The five R’s on Safeguarding are: Recognise, Respond, Report, Record and Refer.

24 May 2022, 16:49