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10 June 2011 – Operation Bobbi Bear

Operation Bobbi Bear

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

The passion with which South Africans are taking up and spreading the call to be the leaders of their own lives and communities is a huge triumph for this nation. ‘Umuntu, ngumuntu, ngabantu’ (I am because of you – the spirit of Ubuntu) is steadily becoming ingrained in all of us with every act of kindness done by us and for us. It is an exciting time to be an African, and to know that we can all be a part of this tremendous wave of positive change. Silences are being broken, problems confronted, solutions being found. Operation Bobbi Bear (, a registered, Durban-based non-profit organisation founded by Jackie Branfield and dedicated to fighting child abuse, is one of many organisations that is quietly leading South Africa.

The horror of child abuse is heartbreaking and a difficult subject to think about, let alone speak out about. Living in a country that has some of the highest incidences of child rape in the world, I realised that there can be no place for denial or ignorance on the issue. I went through the statistics, the tens of thousands of reported sexual crimes and the estimated hundreds of thousands that go unreported each year.

It often takes just that one person to take action for thousands more to then follow and build upon that action and achieve a great and good thing. Jackie Branfield realised that a teddy bear, Bobbi Bear, could be the tool and friend with which children that had been abused could communicate what had happened to them.

Eleven years on since its creation, Operation Bobbi Bear has seen other (extra)ordinary and courageous women, the ‘Rough Aunties’ joining Jackie, to grow what has become an entire support system for child victims of abuse. The ‘Rough Aunties’ support the children they rescue through the traumatic legal process that accompanies bringing an abuser to justice. They have gone on to provide them with a place of safety, the Eureka House, and to give them the love and nurturing that every child deserves.

We can all contribute to the solution that Bobbi Bear presents – no act of kindness is ever too small to be rendered useless. Inspired by the courage of the little survivors of abuse, I am painting my way to a contribution.

Operation Bobbi Bear is leaving a trail of great love, courage and kindness. And it needs all of us, in our thousands, to add to it.

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