The Vonjy Centre in Fort-Dauphin, a salvation for families of children victims of sexual violence

In southern Madagascar

Centre Vonjy
12 July 2021

We will call her Emma to preserve her true identity, she was 5 years old when she was sexually abused a year ago at her school. Her story was widely reported in the local media and followed by the people of Fort Dauphin, town in the South of Madagascar. The Vonjy Centre took charge of the psychosocial and medical follow-up of the little girl, and accompanied the family in the legal proceedings.

At the time of the incident, little Emma confided in her grandmother on her way home from school. It is her grandmother who looks after her, as her mother has psychological trouble that prevents her from looking after her children. Emma told her grandmother what had happened and the pain she was suffering, without understanding that she had been a victim of rape.

"I understood immediately and alerted the rest of the family," said Emma's grandmother with great emotion. With no one to turn to, and having previously heard about the Vonjy Centre inaugurated in October 2020 by the President himself, the family rushed to ask for help at the Vonjy Centre in Fort Dauphin.

After nearly 8 months of medical and psychological care and follow-up, the little girl is sufficiently fit for being reintegrated into normal life and returning to school, according to the medical and social team following her.  "She still remembers the abuse she suffered," says a social worker, "but she is getting better." She is now enrolled in a new school, the SOS Village d’enfants partner school of UNICEF. Emma is able to follow the school rhythm like any child of her age. Even today, home visits are still made to assess her condition and monitor her progress both in terms of physical and psychological health and her schooling.

Since its opening, the Fort Dauphin Vonjy Centre, supported by UNICEF and financed by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), has dealt with around forty cases of child victims of sexual violence in the regions of Anosy and Androy.