Thursday, December 2, 2021

Creators of Peace  - Anger and grief made happiness seem impossible, Olievenhoutbosch, Pretoria, South Africa

Personal stumbling blocks for personal growth.


“Grief is a most peculiar thing; we’re so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time; and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it.” Arthur Golden


Initiatives of Change with the Creators of Peace Programme, Olievenhoutbosch Development Association (ODA) and the Ukulunga Foundation partnered for 7months to reach a target of the firts 80 people to be reached through the delivery of the Creators of Peace Circle to the residents of Olievenhoutbosch and surrounding areas as a foundation for Family Trustbuilding Dialogues. On the 13th to the 20th of October 2021 we managed to reach 44 participants separated into two groups who went through a peace circle. The first group consisted of 5 men participants and 18 female, aged 20 – 45, whilst the second group had 19 women and 2 men, aged 20-50.


Majority of these participants are unemployed and are residents of various extensions of Olievenhoutbosch, others just finished their matric and are looking for work opportunities to make a living whilst from homelands in different parts of the Limpopo Province, others are care workers at Future Families Organisation based at Olievenhoutbosch. There was one participant who came to the workshop with a 3 year-old boy because there was no one to look after the child.


The expectations of the group were to find healing, learning how to deal with anger, how to forgive, how to deal with past traumas, how to communicate effectively, manner of approach and learning how to trust again as well as gaining self-confidence. We emphasised the importance of CONFIDENTIALITY as well as personal story sharing which helped in setting up the mood as we noticed resistance in sharing their stories at some point, this helped. One participant shared that she would like to get information on how to control her eating disorder.


During 'What is Peace anyway?' session, facilitated by Galetshwane, most participants shared that their peace comes from happy family and motherly love. One participant said, “For me, Peace is having a bond with my mother and knowing that she loves me as her child.” One other participant said, “Seeing my grandmother happy brings me peace as she is the one who took care of me.” Galetshwane also mentioned that there is negative and positive peace, with negative peace being when one does anything for the sake of something and positive peace being having to be happy with your decisions even when they are not pleasing to others, however, not being selfish but doing what makes you happy.


Mogaetsi said, “My mother’s death has left me with so many questions that do not have answers as I feel she didn’t love me. I’m now a mother to my big sister and my younger brother and it is too much on me since my big sister doesn’t care about us.”


The role play in the 'What builds and destroys peace?' session also helped participants to open up and participate. There was a discussion about gender based violence (GBV) as it was role played and participants confirmed that GBV is one of the issues the community is facing daily. It happens mostly to women that stay with their boyfriends and they are not able to leave the relationship as they have nowhere to go.


One participants said, “I want to forgive my mother for not raising me and letting me go from one family to the other while she is alive - alcohol being the only important thing in her life.  I tried committing suicide three times because I felt useless in this world.”  This statement came during the 'Inner Listening' session facilitated by Cleo were she emphasised the importance of being in silence and listening to the inner self. A participant continued and said, 'I feel like this anger and hate towards my mother is hindering me to grow out of hurtful experiences around me, I feel like my life is stuck.'


There was a realisation during the session 'Qualities of Peace Creator' that a character takes time to be built because we need to first work on what is within us so that our attitude towards other people can change. Gladys said, 'despite of our imperfections that others and we can see in us, the truth is we are being shaped by our values.”  One participant also said that she is aware that people are not only saying that she is rude, but it is the anger that she is having and hasn't dealt with.


Most participants were ready to forgive, during 'The power of forgiveness' session.  Others were not ready to forgive because of the depth of hurt they’ve been through.  However, they all managed to participate in group therapy and releasing the pain by burning it and inviting new positive things into their lives and a commitment to a change. We ended the Circles with 33 participants and they all wanted to be part of Buddy network. 17 participants requested professional assistance and were referred to Minah, the Social Worker. Gladys: It was heart-warming to hear Peter saying he is now aware that he needs to be a better father to his children and he is willing to do that.  Sharing my Forgiveness story made me realise that I have grown on my journey and in personal story telling.


The follow-up session which is Family Trustbuilding is planned for the 22nd October 2021 for the first group. The second group is scheduled for the 5th of November 2021, where they will bring one family member to walk the journey of Inner Healing together.


We would like to thank ODA centre, Ukulunga Foundation, Sylivia Zuber Fund, private programme donors, Olievenhoutbosch communty and IofC South Africa. we saw the pragmme through despite many challenges and the pandemic. 


Reported by

Gladys Mabe and  Cleopadia Mohlaodi