Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue-Vereeniging (ACVV) [Afrikaans Christian Women's Association].


The ACVV came into being during the Second Anglo-Boer War (South African War 1899- 1902). After the disturbing conditions existing in the prisoner-of-war camps on Green Point Common had been brought to the notice of the clergymen's wives in Cape Town, a women's committee was formed to alleviate the urgent distress of the typhoid sufferers. Various women's committees were also formed in the interior of the Cape Province to organise relief work.
At Cradock the need of a more permanent organisation was felt, and after the close of the war Mrs Gert Jordaan of Cradock wrote to Mrs Marie Koopmans-De Wet of Cape Town on the subject. On 1 September 1904 the Zuid-Afrikaansche Christelijke Vrouwen Vereeniging was founded in Cape Town, under the leadership of Mrs Elizabeth Roos.
The ACVV, however, first became fully established at a foundation congress in 1905, when the constitution was approved. Mrs Roos was chosen as president, an office which she held till her death in 1924. Mrs B le Roux of Stellenbosch was elected vice-president, Mrs ID Schonken of Stellenbosch secretary and Mrs Z de Beer treasurer. The aims of the association were laid down in four sentences. It is interesting to note that only one clause relates to purely welfare work, while two have to do with education and the promotion of the Afrikaans language. The fourth pleads for vigorous action against desecration of the Sabbath.
As a result of an agreement reached on the farm of President MT Steyn near Bloemfontein on 5 August 1907, the ACVV confined its work to the Cape Colony, while the Suid-Afrikaanse Vrouefederasie (SAVF) acted in the Transvaal. The Oranje-Vroue- vereniging (OVV) was founded on 25 March 1908 for similar work in the Orange Free State, In Natal (NCVV). Since 1920 the Federale Vroueraad has existed as a link between the Afrikaans women's associations of the four provinces.

There are 125 branches of the ACVV, and its supreme authority is vested in the congress which meets every second year. The members of the central executive are chosen every four years according to geographical areas. The branches are kept in touch with the association's activities mainly by a quarterly magazine, Vrouevolksdiens, which is published by the Federale Vroueraad and superseded the ACVV's own quarterly, Eendrag (started in 1928).

The work of the association is divided as follows:

I. HEALTH SERVICES. When Mrs ME Rothmann was appointed organising secretary in 1928, she did her best to organise district nursing services for the interior. In many a village the district nursing service of the ACVV was also the beginning of provincial hospitals and nursing institutions, which were later placed under the control of general local committees.

2. EDUCATION. At the foundation congress an education fund was established to grant loans to students at universities. In 1931 Senator CJ Langenhoven ceded the royalties from his play 'Petronella' to the ACVV. An art fund was established with this money, from which art students are assisted. Later a second play, 'Vyf dogters' by Herman Steytler, was ceded to the ACVV.

3. ENCOURAGEMENT OF READING. One of the aims of the ACVV was initially to help to distribute good Dutch books, and especially to encourage the youth to read South African history. Special attention was given to farm schools, and in 1928 the ACVV instituted an inquiry into the effectiveness of their libraries. When it was found that these were poorly supplied, the branches were urged to give donations for this purpose. The Burger-Boekhandel, now the Nasionale Boekhandel, offered a floating cup in 1933 to be awarded annually to the branch which did most to encourage a love of reading.

4. SOCIAL WORK. Today the State makes extensive provision for needy citizens. There are, however, personal needs which the members of the ACVV and its social workers meet. The ACVV appointed its first social worker in 1924. In 1961 there were 61 such posts. The social workers also organise needlework classes, children's clubs, clubs for the elderly, and holiday camps for children and adults.

5. INSTITUTIONAL CARE. In 1930 the ACVV opened a hostel in Cape Town, and in 1949 one in Upington, for country girls who come to work in town. Elderly people are cared for in 16 homes, and there are 3 crèches for the children of working mothers. There are also 2 institutions to which children in need of care can be committed.

The presidents who succeeded Mrs. Roos were Mrs Hennie Retief, Mrs Elizabeth Jordaan, Mrs Minnie Roome, Mrs Anna Geyer, Mrs D de la Bat and Mrs JC Potgieter. [BIBL.: HC Lambrechts and Erika Theron: Vrouevolksdiens (1960)]. HC. LAMBRECHTS.

(Extracted and edited from SESA Vol. 1 'AAN-BAC':123-124).