The Nikita Lewis Serenity Hub 

Serenity (n): The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

The Kolisi Foundation along with Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children began to brainstorm potential ideas for a facility that satisfied the need for additional dignified counselling space at Saartjie Baartman. 

The Foundation was aware that Breadline Africa provides infrastructure and initiatives to support childhood development and therefore approached Breadline Africa to assist in creating the infrastructure to include a space for psycho-social support as reading, quiet time and journaling are all a part of the healing process.

The road to wellness and healing is lengthy for women who have experienced Gender-Based Violence (GBV). It requires psycho-social and therapeutic support, including trauma debriefing, individual counselling and group therapy. Most shelters have access to social workers, counsellors and staff with experience, expertise and passion but lack the space to hold psycho-social sessions in a dignified, private and aesthetically pleasing environment. Together with Saartjie Baartman Centre, the Foundation has conceptualised and created a facility to serve therapeutic needs through counselling, therapy reflection, reading and journaling. Most importantly, it is also a supportive and healing space for mothers and children to spend quality time.

Remembering Nikita Lewis 

Nikita Lewis, a former client at Saartjie Baartman. She had been there for four months with her son. Nikita was thriving and doing exceptionally well in her recovery journey. One afternoon she stepped out to the corner store,  just outside of Saartjie Baartman, 300m up the road. Unfortunately, her perpetrator followed her and stabbed her multiple times. The impact of Nikita’s death was felt heavily by the staff of Saartjie Baartman and therefore insisted that the library space be named after Nikita, in her honour and remembrance.

Safe Spaces like the Nikita Lewis Serenity Hub are essential for women, survivors, and victims of GBV – as psycho-social support (counselling) is a crucial part of the healing process. The space allows for therapeutic interventions with staff and women. 

The Foundation and Saartjie Baartman Centre will further examine the impact of this space – how many people access the space, what the feedback from staff, women and children are and study the tangible difference in their healing journey. Most of all, this space will serve as psycho-social support (counselling) for the Lewis family should they wish to use it.

Remembering Nikita Lewis. When we look at the majority of GBV Victims, we realise that we do not know their names, we do not know their stories, but with this Hub, with this woman – we will forever know her name, and her story will not be forgotten. This space allows other women to heal whilst honouring Nikita Lewis. 

Watch this powerful launch video here.