Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Creators of Peace and the City of Johannesburg Graduation Ceremony

At the Soweto Theatre on Friday 21st June, an exciting and inspirational graduation ceremony took place for 271 women and 29 male participants of the City of Johannesburg’s Program, primarily for young women, in which Peace Circles had a very meaningful part.  Mrs Carina van Zyl, Department Director of Targeted Beneficiary Unit (TBU), opened the event, saying, “It’s time to experience a rebirth.” 

She continued giving a background to the women’s programme which began in 2014 to empower young women and some men to stand up, to discover their assets within, regardless of their education or the troubles they face.  This is the 5th group of graduates of this programme today, she said.Many modules are explored during this programme, e.g. Emotional Intelligence, Rights and Responsibilities, Occupational Skills, Spiritual well-being, Health, to name a few.  Creators of Peace and Initiatives of Change (IofC) were approached by this department within the City of Johannesburg, to help with the module of ‘Inner Healing’.   This is the second year that the Peace Circles team have been part of this outreach.

The guest speaker was Thusani Malandzi, a South African author of ‘The Perfect Fall’ who climbed Mr Kilamanjaro to raise money for the sanitary needs for young disadvantaged South African girls. She talked of her own life and what she had had to overcome. “What is your mountain (in your life).  Surround yourself with friendships that can help you. Self-audit.  Who will you now inspire?”, she asked.  “Whatever dream you have, can come true.  Put in the hard work, blood, sweat and tears – then you will enjoy.  Find your niche to volunteer and help those in need.”

Cleo Mohlaodi spoke on behalf of Initiatives of Change programme - Creators of Peace and the team of facilitators, Lucel Snyers, Mantwa Mabe and Phumzile Mogola.“The experience has been phenomenal for us as a direct team of four anchored by an indirect team of five in the Creators of Peace program alongside the City of Johannesburg regional coordinators and management. For me, these five months have shaped a deeper compassion for my people, a longing for development and for open and honest conversations as well as a cry for a better healed nation. “We believe that by creating platforms for all people, operating at all levels, for telling our stories, we will be able to help to heal the past and harness the future.

The uniqueness of the programme is that it offers group therapy for inspiration and self-assessment in a safe and caring environment.  It creates awareness, dialogues, and offers ample time for one to be listened to when sharing honest and real personal stories. As a Four-day build up programme, it instils values, life skills tools such as answers to the ‘how’ question (transitions) while giving enough time to practice and cry/ cough out as much as you can. It manages to get a diverse group in one space to dialogue for peace and sustainability. It facilitates individual answers and doesn’t give participants packaged answers so that the blame and low self-esteem chain can be cut.

These are some of the elements that make the inner healing important and needed in our society. To do things differently for a different result. The Creators of Peace Circles took place in six regions of Johannesbug ( Diepkloof, Durban Deep, Vlakfontein, Ivory Park, Cleveland and Alexandra)

In this period we found within the 271 women and 29 men, across 6 regions, the following statistics:

  • PTSD survey, 40% are on border line and 60% are struggling with it without knowing.
  • 35% developed and managed their conflicts with positive outcome
  • 70% took a change of heart and forgave their experiences and people who hurt them 
  • 90% programme appreciation
  • 25% growth of self-development
  • 5% halt of suicidal attempts
  • 2% started with professional counselling

When going back for a follow up, some overall feedback:

  • Improved parenting, lower substance intake, and developed empathy, went back to school, and found work.
  • The circle for these meaningful and healing conversations grows bigger, leading to community discussions and interventions to tackle social ills.

Some comments from participants

  • ‘After the Programme I was challenged to say sorry when I have made a mistake, because as a male I felt saying sorry is wrong. I have now started to talking to my siblings a thing I have never done before’
  • ‘I was badly abused and lost my personal value.  Today I am starting to love and accept myself as I am’.

It is like yesterday when we started, but tomorrow awaits us to continue practicing our acquired change. It will not be easy, but discipline and reflection are practices that are about you and for your benefit. We, as the Creators of Peace - Inner healing programme, have done our best in giving the voiceless a Voice, It now time to walk together and share the power to the powerless.

The key note address was given by the City of Johannesburg health and women MMC ( Member of the Mayoral Office) Dr Mpho Phalatse who started with encouragement words that, ‘The City as well myself believe in Education as the key just like the former President Nelson Mandela said,” education is the greatest Engine of Personal Development. It is through education that a daughter of a peasant can be a medical doctor, the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine that the child of a farmer can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given that separates the one from the other”.

The MMC continued to highlight that as the municipality of this huge metro, so many challenges prohibit them doing the best for the residents of Johannesburg hence such a huge investment in personal development that people can stand for themselves. She wrote a letter to the graduates of her life journey in Education. The letter highlighted that her mother had to work twice s much for her to be the profession she is. And today she is a mother of two also working hard to grow the children on her own. This shows that as a nation we are growing so hard to groom a women who a man can never handle, but with the Creators of Peace giving this service to both genders, this indicates a chance that both genders can heal and create a change future

Such an honour that the Municipality can work together with Initiatives of Change South Africa through the Creators of Peace programme, together working towards nation building for a healed and unified society.

Thank you Edmee Botteron, Susan Burral, Audrey Snyders, Initiatives of Change South Africa, for all prayers, financial support and mentoring.

Report by Cleo Mohlaodi