Monday, March 23, 2020

Inner Healing Under Construction at Leratong village, South Africa  

The Creators of Peace (CoP) programme, visited the Leratong village situated on the outskirts of Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg. This kicked off the 2020 partnership between The City of Johannesburg municipality and the CoP programme. 

Leratong which means a 'place of love' in the Sesotho language is the opposite of what inhabitants in this community would say about the state of their area. Leratong village started as an informal settlement in the 1990's where people of black and coloured races from all over South Africa settled. Today it is a community of over 100,000 people.  There are challenges with water, sanitation, single-parent homes, crime, substance abusers, lack of identity and a lot of inhumane neglect.  It is not uncommon for someone to pick up a deserted newborn or neglected child within the community.

The CoP Circle programme ran from the 18-20 February with 18 participants - 7 men and 11 women.  As the facilitators we realised this community is a perfect example of generational inheritance of pain and grief, leading to a society that's accepting of resentment and hate towards each other.

Angelina, one of the participants, shared, "My mother is a good woman who helps everyone in our community but neglects us at home. I do not have a healthy relationship with her because she never pays attention to my deepest needs – to helping me to become the best person I can be." The group had hopes that by the end of the Peace Circle workshop they would manage to deal with their anger, develop self-esteem and indeed start a journey of inner healing and self love.

From day one forgiveness was a priority discussion with this group. Inner healing was indeed 'under construction' because people could not even articulate what healing or change they wished to have. By the end of the third day, during the 'Peace in Practice' session some indicated that their next steps would be to improve their education levels.  Others shared that they still had a lot of work to do within themselves for e.g. needing to find work in order to bring hope for themselves and their families. Seven participants asked to be referred for professional assistance in issues of anger, clearing criminal records and grief.

Mantwa, one of the facilitators shared,  “When one of the participants told of  the pain he felt when he lost his child due to an abortion the mother of his child had, without telling him, I was reminded of my own pain of having a still born baby.  I took a decision to forgive the blame I had for myself.”

There will be a follow-up session on the 10th of March to check in with the group and also see how much progress has been made with decisions taken. To the following funders and partners for making this community development initiative possible, we say thank you to Initiatives of Change, City of Johannesburg social development unit, Edmée Botteron and the Leratong village community.

                                                                                                                                                                     Report by Lucel Snyers, Cleo Mohlaodi and Mantwa Mabe