Long-term campaigner Jackie Branfield was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 1952 and has often been described as a ‘maverick crusader’.
Her ‘life’s work’ began 20 years ago at the church youth group when youngsters started approaching her for help with personal problems. Working mainly with her own common sense in the beginning, she started amassing valuable knowledge about HIV/Aids and drugs which could be used to prevent transmission after abuse.
The founder of Operation Bobbi Bear first took action against sexual crimes against children in 1992. With the creation of Bobbi Bear, a teddy bear with a difference, Jackie’s challenge was to ensure accurate information was exchanged and clear legal evidence noted, without in any way compromising the care and support for the victim.
Concerned about what was taking place at police stations and hospitals where victims – often small children – would sit for hours, without a kind word, let alone professional help, Jackie took action… and so the Bobbi Bear Foundation was born.
Jackie’s vision with Bobbie Bear is to collaborate with the criminal justice system to ensure that the safety and rights of sexually abused children are upheld. The dedicated Bobbie Bear team has received numerous awards for their work including the Amnesty International Roll of Honour; Black Ball Humanitarian Award in New York City and the Swarovski Crystal of Hope. Jackie Branfield’s personal favourite award is the Woman of the Year commendation she received from a local Isipingo School, Kamileni Primary.
A documentary film, entitled Rough Aunties, has been made about the work of the Bobbi Bear foundation and won numerous awards for humanitarian films.
Jackie Branfield is married and has six children.