Harare’s Park Bench Grandmas

Grandmothers working with the Friendship Bench project chat before counselling sessions begin. Photograph: Cynthia R MatonhodzeGrandmothers working with the Friendship Bench project chat before counselling sessions begin. Photograph: Cynthia R Matonhodze

By Ranga Mberi in Harare

The therapy room is a patch of wasteland, and the therapist’s couch a wooden bench under a tree. The therapist is an elderly Zimbabwean, in a long brown dress and headscarf.

Patients call her “Grandmother” when they come to sit on her bench and discuss their feelings, their depression or other mental health issues.

Outside a clinic in a poor suburb south of Zimbabwe’s capital, there are lots of trained but unqualified health workers who take turns hearing stories. They listen to the battered wife who has attempted suicide, the man who hates women after being infected with HIV, the unemployed single mother.

These safe places are part of The Friendship Project.

To read the full story and see a video, click here .

Republication is Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd

 

 

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