CAPTION: One of the centres where the NCVT offers weekly art and storytelling therapy to traumatised children in Diepsloot, Alexandra and Nooitgedacht.

“I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Art therapy takes place when individuals are encouraged to express themselves through art as part of a healing process from emotional trauma. For children who experience violence or domestic abuse, drawing or painting provides a way to say what they cannot say with words. For the National Children and Violence Trust (NCVT), it provides a unique opportunity to identify and assist children who are were traumatised by violence, poverty or other factors.

Gemma Tabane, an independent service provider for the NCVT, runs the NCVT Lotto project that provides weekly art therapy to children from 10 to 13 years of age in schools at Diepsloot, Alexandra and Nooitgedacht. The therapy is supplemented by storytelling.

“We currently provide therapy to 124 children,” says Tabane. “Although we are a bit under-resourced, we can see the therapy making a difference to the young ones. They are better and happier than when they started with us.”

In cases where a child is traumatised beyond what art can heal, he or she is referred to the professional psychologist or social workers at NCVT. “Last year, there was a case where a child was taken to a place of safety after the art therapy indicated recurring domestic abuse at home,” recounts Nokwazi Dlamini, senior social worker at the NCVT. “After three months, when the parents had attended the NCVT’s upliftment sessions, the child was allowed to go back home.”

“Most of these children come from poor backgrounds,” Tabane continues. “Sometimes they have no shoes or their socks are torn. With the National Lottery’s funding, we can assist with emotional healing and it gives us great joy to see the children grow happier as time passes; however, we really need stationery for the art therapy and it would be so special to be able to provide the children with food and proper clothes as well.”

Dlamini concludes: “The art therapy is just one way in which we serve our communities. All of the assistance we receive from partners and sponsors are appreciated and well spent – not a cent is wasted. We are honoured to be able to touch so many lives.”

For more information about NCVT or to make a donation, contact +27 11 705 1960 or visit Join NCVT’s Facebook page at or tweet them @NCVT_ZA.