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GLOBAL SAK
DONATION PROJECT

The SAK (Sexual Assault Kit) Global Donation Project is a joint collaboration between by DNAforAfrica, a Texas Hospital, a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) in the USA, international human rights NGOs, survivor advocates, rape crisis centres and government chemists in Kenya as well as a UK-based criminologist researching the impact of DNA evidence on the justice system.

 

This incredible project has gained global recognition in its efforts to help low resource environments in Africa gain access to sterile DNA swabs, drying boxes and tamper-proof evidence bags required for the minimum standard of evidence collection from sexual offence cases, while maintaining the preservation and chain of custody of evidence

HOW IT ALL STARTED

COLLABORATION IN ACTION:
THE STORY BEHIND THE SAK PROJECT

Sister Jennifer Degner, a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) from Texas is the protaganist who helped us launch the "SAK Global Donation Project". Vanessa first met Jennifer during the age of online Covid Zoom meetings. They instantly connected and shared stories of the challenges in their respective  environments, one of which was the lack of SAK’s (sexual assault collection kits) in Africa.

 

Following that meeting Jennifer professed to throwing away hundreds of perfectly good unused items from their 'Texas 100' SAK’s - destined for landfill. How could we get these to Africa, where the need was so great, she asked Vanessa?

 

Within weeks, Vanessa had rallied a team together, and thus began the SAK Global Donation project: spanning three different continents, they devised a plan to stockpile the sealed, unused SAK items, get them across to East Africa, where a non profit organisation would receive them and distribute these precious items to rape crisis centres, whereafter a specialised forensic Doctor would oversee proper collection of samples and the government chemist would analyse and track the quality of these samples at their DNA lab. This would all be monitored and documented by Prof. Lisa Smith, a Criminologist at Leicester University (the home of forensic DNA profiling) as part of a research study on the impact of good quality DNA samples on the justice system and survivor confidence in the process.

Jennifer Degner, SANE, Texas

 

Sats Jennifer, "My vision is to see the SAK Donation Project become successful, so that many more can have access to quality evidence collection and Forensic Nursing care. It is my hope that this program, with increased donations, will grow to include more areas in Africa. I look forward to being able to advocate for Survivors and Forensic Nurses on a larger scale throughout the United States and Africa, and sharing my knowledge and experience with more organisations.

 

"Every little bit helps and you must keep following your heart. I was moved to help after a short conversation with Vanessa and it sparked a small idea. I took that small idea to my Administration with the hope that they would support it.  And because I had the courage to ask the hard questions, we now have many supplies that will be going where they are needed the most. I have faith that small ideas will grow into something much bigger!"

 

Our first shipment of SAK items is due to land in Nairobi, Kenya at the end of February 2023. This amazing partnership, with all of its role players will also be showcased in this year's HIDS 2023 Collective, and truly is an inspiring story demonstrating how, when we work together, we are stronger together. 

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THE SAK PROJECT

THESE ARE OUR KEY ROLEPLAYERS

Wangu Kanya
WANGU KANJA
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LISA SMITH
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JOSEPH KIMANI
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JENNIFER DEGNER
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KIZZIE SHAKO
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VANESSA LYNCH

This global project  highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to enhancing justice with DNA evidence:

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CRIMINOLOGY

– understanding the role and impact of forensic evidence in the criminal justice system, how it can transform responses to crime, enhance confidence in the process, and act as a deterrent to future offending.

SURVIVOR PERSPECTIVE

– understanding the survivor journey and the challenges they face in accessing justice.

SCIENCE

– ensuring that innovation is fit for purpose and implemented effectively.

LAW

– understanding of the legal framework for DNA evidence, databases, and the role of evidence in the prosecution and defence of cases.

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