Cause Index

Institute for the Healing of Memories Healing


The Institute for Healing of Memories (IHOM) works with people from a rich diversity of racial and socio-economic backgrounds, including refugees, prisoners, HIV/AIDS sufferers, women, ex-combatants and faith groups. Participants have often been victims of one or more of sectarian conflicts, xenophobia, abuse, poverty, disease, loss and human rights abuses. IHOM has worked in all of South Africa’s nine provinces, but its programmes are focused on two in particular, the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal, where we have offices. (Please see Appendix D for further information on our beneficiaries.)

2.The context in which we work

South Africa’s apartheid history is well-known and our relatively peaceful transition into a democratic society was heralded worldwide. However, the long and often violent nature of apartheid as well as, sometimes, the response of those who fought for freedom left its mark on many. Even now, over twenty years later, this violence and abuse still haunts many who struggle to come to terms with past traumatic experiences.

Vivid memories of South Africa’s recent social and political history are compounded by the appalling living conditions that millions are forced to endure. About 40 per cent of all South Africans and 70 per cent of our children live below the poverty line of R388 per month (about $50) – over one quarter of the population live on less than $1.25 a day. In 2010, South Africa ranked 110th out of 169 countries in terms of its Human Development Index, despite ranking 73rd in terms of its per capita income, and it continues to be one of the most unequal
countries in the world.

“I have travelled the road from being a freedom-fighter to being a healer. And in some small measure, my journey reflects the journey of South Africa. There was a time to slay the monster of apartheid. But now that we have democracy, it is time to heal, to reconcile, to rebuild.” - Father Michael Lapsley, Director IHOM

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