Sosena Lemma has more than 20 years of experience of working in the development sector in Ethiopia. She has built her experience and expertise as a leader in capacity development for civil society organisations across a range of disciplines including programme management, gender, Gender-based Violence and safeguarding. She is currently the Regional Associate for Africa.
Closing a 6-month investigation mentorship, the RSH recently celebrated the graduation of 8 mentors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Safeguarding consultant Lucy Heaven Taylor, who developed the programme’s case studies, joined the celebration virtually from the UK and thanked the Ethiopian facilitators and mentees for pioneering the programme.
While we can see improvements in safeguarding practices in the aid sector, many civil society organisations (CSOs) struggle with investigation, Ms. Heaven Taylor said. The RSH had identified safeguarding investigations as a key challenge, and this is why they developed the Investigations Mentor Training.
“The RSH has not run this programme in other locations – it was the idea of the RSH Ethiopia Hub team, and you are the first participants to graduate,” Ms. Heaven Taylor said. “We are hoping to capture learning from this programme (...) Thank you for being pioneers.”
According to feedback from the mentees, the programme has enriched their knowledge of investigations and empowered mentors to confidently lead investigations within their organisation.
“The safeguarding investigation mentorship facilitated by the RSH has helped me to understand more about safeguarding investigation and risks, about interview skills, how to deal with managers in course of a safeguarding investigation, how to be survivor focused and how to weigh the evidence,” shared mentee Yeshiwas Emiru with the RSH.
Ms. Heaven Taylor emphasised at the graduation ceremony that “as investigators, you will need to stick to your principles, and be led by what is right for survivors. Sometimes, the organisations you work for may make this hard. However, (…) always remember that you are the expert.”
Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of this work, it can be difficult to talk about what investigators do. While being an investigator may feel lonely, Ms. Heaven Taylor reminded the graduates that now they have a team of peers that they can talk to and share learning.
“That is something really valuable, make sure you take advantage of it. Congratulations to all of you on your graduation, and I wish you well in the important work that you all do,” Ms. Heaven Taylor said in closing.
During the mentorship, the mentees met monthly with facilitators experienced in safeguarding investigations, and had opportunities to engage with colleagues from various international and local non-governmental organisations.
“My major takeaway from this team is that safeguarding investigation mentorship is a give-and-take relationship, where one offers their experience, knowledge, failures, and lessons learned,” shared mentor Yeshiwas.
The mentorship programme aimed to enable mentees to become capable investigators. For this purpose, we selected those who had had practical experience of safeguarding investigation and/or training in investigation. All of the mentees work for CSOs and we expect that they will have a great input in their organisation’s safeguarding investigation practice. The mentees also agreed during the graduation that they would continue to meet periodically to continue to learn together.