2017 PROTECTION AWARD HONOREE
Founder, Operation Bobbi Bear
Amanzimtoti, South Africa
Jackie Branfield has long advocated for the rights of children who have been abused in South Africa, where HIV infection rates are one of the highest in the world, and where one third of children and young people have experienced some form of sexual abuse.
One day, Jackie was asked to help a 16-year-old girl file a report for rape. She was horrified by the communication barriers between this young girl, the police and health care workers at the clinic. Even worse was the fact that the girl’s story would likely not lead to her perpetrator’s arrest. Jackie realized that the system needed a better tool for communicating with children who had undergone such a traumatic experience. This led to the design and development of the Bobbi Bear, a stuffed bear on which children can draw and use to describe their abuse. The bear is now used in courtrooms across South Africa.
Today, Jackie’s organization, Operation Bobbi Bear, acts as a filter between police and children who have been assaulted. Children who report abuse are taken to a safe, comfortable place, rather than an intimidating environment, where they are given a bear on which to draw. The organization’s goal is to make coming to the authorities easier for children so they are more likely report abuse within 24 hours and be treated for HIV.
Jackie’s ultimate vision is to ensure every child who is abused can return to wholeness and lead a life beyond being a victim.