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Nelson Mandela University has partnered with Alumni-in-Action (A-i-A), an initiative whose mission is to enable access to advanced mental health support for student survivors of Gender-Based-Violence (GBV).

This is through the organisation's funding to enable survivors to have up to eight sessions of therapy. The Mandela University chapter A-I-A was launched online on 08 March 2023. 

A-i-A was co-founded by Zellah Fuphe, a University of Cape Town (UCT) alumnus and Sanda Nyoka, a current UCT student. It initially launched in partnership with UCT in August 2021. 

Following the murder of a young female UCT student in 2019, Fuphe and Nyoka felt compelled to advocate for an end to the negative impact of GBV by personally funding the project. 
Fuphe said: “I believe in the power of education and the positive impact it has on society. Empowering tertiary students who otherwise may not be able to access services after trauma, may hinder the completion of their studies. Helping these students is an important part of shaping a progressive society.”  
The initiative with UCT has supported 27 student survivors to date, with a total of 177 sessions booked with psychologists. Fuphe added that it was significant that the launch took place on 8 March, which is International Women’s Day, because the scourge of GBV affects women from all walks of life. 
A-i-A chose to partner with Nelson Mandela University for an initial period of three years because of its progressive and innovative approach to providing support to survivors of GBV. This includes  its use of technology to monitor and identify GBV hotspots. 
“A-i-A@Mandela is a partnership based on shared values, and a strong commitment to put survivors first and bring care, hope and compassion to them,” said Fuphe. 
She added that while A-i-A has provided the initial funding for A-i-A@Mandela, additional funding will enable the provision of support to more student survivors of GBV. 
“We are grateful that Barloworld has heeded our call to action and generously pledged R250 000 towards A-i-A@Mandela. The donation is no surprise to A-i-A, as it further demonstrates Barloworld’s commitment to transformation and the equitable representation and inclusion of women in our society.”
Nelson Mandela University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa said the University “advocates for the equality and right of all to work and learn in a safe environment, free of any form of gender-based harm and violations. The Alumni-in-Action project will enhance the programmes we have on campus that create awareness of Gender-Based-Violence and those that provide support to survivors.” 
Prof Muthwa explained that the University’s Statement of Commitment is to have an inclusive institutional culture, which denounces all forms of behaviour in conflict with its values. 
“To this end, Mandela University, as an engaged institution with renewed commitment to actively fighting this ongoing GBV pandemic on our campuses, continues the work towards ensuring a safer and inclusive environment for all, across the gender spectrum.”
Prof Andre Keet, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Engagement and Transformation at Mandela University said: “We welcome this partnership with Alumni-in-Action. Collaboration and partnerships are what is needed to solve the challenges of our society.”
He said the A-i-A initiative supplements projects already in existence at the University. 
“In recent years we have provided funding for the implementation of various advocacy programmes against Gender-Based Violence, as well as for the provision of support groups for female, male and non-binary students.” 
Furthermore, the Transformation Office has implemented a streamlined reporting process of GBV incidents since 2020, resulting in an improvement in the resolution of cases. 
“In order to monitor and identify GBV hotspots, the University has procured case management software that assists in focusing interventions based on the trends being extracted from this system,” said Prof Keet.
In addition, Emthonjeni Student Wellness and Student Health Services have developed a joint online case management system for recording GBV data to avoid duplication in reporting. Analysis of the factors contributing to the GBV incidents reported to the Transformation Office has enabled the University to provide integrated interventions to raise awareness and address these causal factors. 
“In essence, A-i-A speaks to our values of Ubuntu and Social Justice and Equality. I would like to commend the founders of this initiative for their altruism in putting their own resources into this project and for taking the time to help others in need. This exemplifies the namesake of our University, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who worked selflessly for social justice and the good of others,” said Prof Keet.