Monday, March 23, 2020

Conversations that Boost Confidence in Braamfischerville, Johannesburg, South Africa

"After believing what others said about me I lost my confidence. These three days have boosted my confidence once again.  From now on I will be working on me so that I celebrate my birthday on the 29th March with confidence," said Mandu, one of the 25 men and women participants in the Creators of Peace (CoP) Circle which took place from 25 -27 February in Braamfischerville, Roodepoort (west of Johannesburg).

It's been said that good communication is a bridge between confusion and clarity.  The young women and men between the ages of 20 and 35yrs gathered at the Power of Cross Ministry church with the hope that conversations would help them start living their lives beyond perceived failure from those around them. Daily challenges of peer pressure are so deep and the majority of the youth have taken to tobacco and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Painful conversations opened up as we went through the gathering points of the programme namely: 'What builds and what destroys my peace' and 'What is this peace that I am searching for?' With much role play, singing, storytelling and small group discussions the group started becoming comfortable with themselves and began to open up just like a beautiful sunflower facing the sun. In the beginning, one of the participants had said that he wished that “these three days would help me better my leadership skills.”  Then, after some role play activity, he commented, “I am impressed with the talent and openness I have seen in this room.  This makes me believe we can achieve more."

We identified that the root cause of lack of communication within this group stems from lack of communication within the family structure.  Many of the personal stories shared highlighted how many are living with family feuds and divisions. Sadly this is a story many black South Africans can relate to.  Nomvula shared, “I grew up, happy with my sisters and we would all share a meal daily despite the place we found ourselves living in. After our grandmother died the one sister inherited the house now we are all divided. This hurts. Today I find myself in taverns (pubs) drinking my pain away and trying to find happiness outside myself and outside my family.”

On the third day, after experiencing the 'Inner Listening' session of knowing how to connect and find corrections and direction from God for one's life, ten percent gave feedback that they now smoked less and are starting to choose carefully the friends they keep.  Lucel, one of the facilitators shared, “Family support is important.  I too am being challenged to continue restoring relationships within my family so as to get to a level where we can honestly support each other. It was a huge celebration at the end of the Peace Circle when participants started realizing the potential of applying what they had learnt.  One participant shared, “I wish I could live in this room together with the CoP programme because this is where I am happy and find it easy to talk, unlike at home where we only talk when things are happy but do not know how to talk through important and serious issues that go on in our lives.” 

There will be a follow-up session on the 11th of March.  We will also give mentoring skills to the group.

To the following funders and partners for making this community development initiative possible, we say thank you to Initiatives of Change, City of Jo'burg social development unit, Khulisa social workers, Edmée Botteron, Power of Cross Ministry and Braamfischerville community.

                                                                                                                                                                          Report by Lucel Snyers, Mantwa Mabe and Cleo Mohlaodi