Healing A Nation

“After he raped me, he placed a R20 in my pocket and told me that is what I’m worth” – Jasmien Kort, a 19 year old Matric student at Zeekoevlei Secondary High School.

Most aspects of Jasmien’s early life should have led to a future of low self-worth and negativity, but armed with a conviction to achieve, the opposite is true. Her story is one of motivation and self-belief. “No matter what happens in your life, if you believe that you can do something great you will,” says Jasmien.

Jasmien’s life started off difficult with the death of her father at age three and sexual abuse at the hands of her step-father at age eight. She was moved into a safety home through a local organisation until she found a home with her grandmother, where she still lives today.

Jasmien was introduced to Life Choices in Grade 10 through Health4Life Straight Talks – a Life Choices initiative that focuses on gender-based talks around sexuality and reproductive health. Going through a challenging time in her life, Jasmien says that attending Life Choices’ programme really helped her because it offered her a space where she felt she could trust people.

“When I first came across Life Choices I was interested in what they had to say, I found the information very useful. They also offered me a space where I felt comfortable to talk about stuff that was on my mind,” says Jasmien.

Life Choices’ Health4Life programme provides health services in 18 high schools.  Learners are offered youth-friendly HIV counselling and testing, psychosocial support and gender based talks. Jasmien has overcome many barriers in her life as a rape survivor and she says that meeting Anwar Aricum, a Life Choices Counsellor, helped her get to a place of happiness.

“It was a very difficult time in my life, I had been raped and was finding it difficult to cope at school. I had repeated Grade 10 three times and all I wanted to do was drop out. Life Choices counselling sessions helped me a lot, each time I thought about dropping-out I would hear Anwar’s voice in my head saying that I need education and that if I give up I won’t have a chance of going to University.”

Anwar says that seeing Jasmien’s development fills him with joy. “I’ve seen her crawl, I’ve seen her fall and now it makes me so proud to see her running towards her dreams and meeting her goals,” says Anwar.

Today, Jasmien is a pillar of strength in her community as she turned the negative that happened to her into something positive. Nominated by a teacher, she is currently a Youth Ambassador for the University of the Western Cape that sees students lead interventions around HIV/Aids at their respective schools. She also encourages her peers to attend the various Life Choices interventions at her school because in her words “it has such a huge impact on your life”.

Jasmien has received a full bursary from UWC to study nursing next year. “I have chosen to study nursing because I feel I will be able to help so many more people.”

Jasmien is proof that she is more than her circumstances. Through healing, determination and support she will definitely be able to assist in healing a nation.

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