Südafrika: Rolene Miller

Women are the first agents of change; the first teachers because they are the bearers and nurturers of culture. If change has to happen, it must start with women.

— Rolene Miller

Rolene Miller, born in 1938, is a qualified social worker from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. For five years, she worked as a teacher specializing in remedial teaching. She started the Mosaic Training Services and Healing Centre in 1993, a non-profit organiztion for abused women. The focus of the organization was to extend reproductive health services, HIV/Aids awareness, legal rights and food security. Rolene is recognized for her efforts in empowering women to take control of their lives and to bring about peace in their homes and in their communities.

When Rolene Miller began working with gender-based violence in disadvantaged communities, she realized the importance of providing innovative services that were unique to the environment. She knew that she was moving into an unfamiliar territory and had lessons to learn from the community workers who had both knowledge and experience. She started the Mosaic Training Services and Healing Centre in 1993. In 1994, she teamed up with a psychologist and developed a one-year full-time training program to train grassroots women on community and social work skills. “I had a large learning curve,” she confirms. From 1999 to 2002, she trained approximately 100 women to become lay counselors. They needed skills to help victims of abuse to apply for protection orders in domestic violence sections of the magistrates’ courts. She educated all her trainees in life skills, human rights and legal rights, according to the Domestic Violence Act of 1998. Many cultural issues were addressed in the training sessions. These included patriarchy within the society. The trained lay counselors had to use their experiences and newly acquired skill to first heal themselves in order to help other clients.

Mosaic Training Services and Healing Centre