Puppets are giving children a way to talk about abuse. Here's why that's important


Before turning 17, one in three South African children are likely to suffer some form of sexual abuse. This form of violence is a national crisis damaging generations of youngsters. Driven to free our youth from unspeakable evil, Lawrence Mongalo is teaching primary school children how to identify and report abuse.

A former telephone counsellor for Childline Free State, Mongalo provided comfort and guidance to victims of violence. His service was valuable, even lifesaving. But he wanted to do more. Convinced that education was the only solution to the problem, Mongalo underwent training to become a puppeteer and developed a show to expose abuse. Since 2014, his Ubuntu Puppets have travelled to rural schools around South Africa to empower children with knowledge that could help them to avoid becoming victims.

Child abuse isn’t something that people like to talk about. The idea of such damage happening to young people is tragic. The work of monsters. But if we don’t address it nothing will change, and more and more innocent lives will be devastated. If we bring it into the light and educate children about it, we stand a chance of bringing it down. Mongalo has demonstrated one creative way of breaching the topic. The onus is on the rest of us to support projects like his, and continue to innovate where it matters most.