Lucinda awarded Knight in the Legion of Honour

KAREN WATKINS

Social activist, tireless mili- tant and community worker Lucinda Evans has received many accolades and awards over the years but was thrilled to receive yet another.

On Tuesday March 8, to coincide with International Women’s Day, Ambassador of France to South Africa, Elisabeth Barbier bestowed the award of the Chevalier de * ’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (award of Knight in the Legion of Honour) on Ms Evans.

In August 2008, Ms Evans founded the Lavender Hill-based non-profit organisation Philisa Abafazi Bethu, Xhosa for Heal our Women. In 2012 she went on to open a safe haven in Wynberg where women from all communities may stay for up to 72 hours. And on Monday February 29 she launched Philisa Abafazi Bethu’s new offices in Grassy Park.

The organisation offers a variety of programmes that reach young women, the elderly, children, and even men. These range from skills development workshops to trauma support groups and after-school programmes.

The NPO’s mission is to support and counsel young women who are victims of sexual abuse. Her aim is to be the person that others can rely on for protection and reassurance in the community.

Even before Philisa Abafazi Bethu and the birth of democracy in South Africa, Ms Evans was involved in social work as the vice president of the Student Representative Council at the College of Cape Town. In 2008, she was the head of a multi-platform operation that mobilised resources to fight against gender violence in townships. In 2013 Ms Evans was nominated for a national Woman of the Year award. Philisa Abafazi Bethu hosts volunteers from France and other European countries and in 2012 French Minister Ségolène Royal visited the organisation.

At the award ceremony, Ms Barbier said of Ms Evans: “By awarding you with this distinction, France wishes to acknowledge the role you play in serving your community through your involvement in human rights. You are one of the most prominent actors when it comes to citizen engagement in the Cape and in South Africa as a whole”.

The Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, French Legion of Honour, celebrates the accomplishments of distinguished individuals, irrespective of sex, social background and nationality. The national order of the Legion of Honour was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. It is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier Knight; Officier Officer; Commandeur Commander; Grand Officier Grand Officer; and Grand Croix Grand Cross. It was first awarded on July 14 1804.

South Africans who have received the Legion of Hon- our include Ahmed Kathrada, Desmond Tutu, Kader Asmal, Nadine Gordimer, André P Brink and Jay Naidoo.