Nada Kazim, current charity committee vice president of the Aisha Yateem Family Counselling Centre, tells Behnaz Sanjana how it helps ill-treated women to resume living with dignity.
Under the aegis of the Bahrain Young Ladies Association, the Aisha Yateem Family Counselling Centre was started in March 2007 with the primary aim of providing protection to families, especially women, and offering ways to resolve conflicts.
“The Aisha Yateem Family Counselling Centre guides women in social, psychological and legal spheres to better deal with, and overcome, their personal problems,” says Nada. “We have a qualified team of counsellors, psychologists and lawyers who specialise in women’s and familial issues, and are dedicated to helping anyone in need of practical advice. We also work closely with the Ministry of Social Affairs and hospitals in Bahrain.”
She goes on to explain that the centre was the first of its kind in the Kingdom and has become a great source of support for abused Bahraini and expat women. It has seen 78 new cases in 2016 besides the 783 ongoing ones it already handles.
The centre provides family counselling for women as well as one-on-one counselling for other adult family members. “This helps them to avoid deeper problems in their relationships at home and, if they are already in a fix, we help them come out of it,” she says.
The social guidance, psychological and legal counselling units help individuals to find their own suitable solutions to overcome their problems. “We provide women with all the options that are available. We lay out the pros and cons of their actions and empower them to take their own decisions. They have to select their path ahead; we can only guide them to make the correct choice,” Nada says.
Sometimes, in dire circumstances, when it is inevitable for a woman to seek legal recourse, the centre legally represents her at court and also bears the cost for it. “We also have a toll-free hotline, where women can call and receive immediate counselling,” says Nada.
The centre conducts social, psychological and legal awareness programmes for people from all walks of life. “We hold seminars to inform women about their rights and responsibilities, as well as computer courses for housewives and exercise programmes like yoga, aerobics and self-defence to teach them how to reduce stress and cope with daily issues effectively. Our own volunteers and counsellors receive regular training to deal with and help distressed individuals. ”
The centre also enables young people who are thinking of tying the knot to make informed choices and be well aware of the challenges that married life brings. “This readies them for what to expect and how to come out of difficult situations, to prevent scenarios like divorce and separation,” she says.
Nada explains that the charity’s 20-strong committee, which includes members of the Yateem family, is responsible for raising funds to keep the centre running and providing essential services to those in a social quagmire. Talks are underway to start a shelter for women who need a temporary place to live, away from home.
The committee annually holds many fundraising activities and Nada says: “There is a major event we are organising, which is the Al Nahda charity boutique. It is a sale of used as well as new clothes and other products that have been donated from all over Bahrain, starting on November 19 for 10 days in Gudaibiya. The entire committee and external volunteers are busy sorting and pricing the items for sale. All proceeds go towards the running costs of the centre.”
Funds are also raised through a gala annual exhibition held at the Aisha Yateem Centre’s premises, where stalls are rented out to interested sellers. “It is a big event which raises money for helping women in need of our help and support,” says Nada. The committee also raises funds through monthly brunches for ladies, where women can get together for a good cause.