Saturday, July 27, 2019

Meaning and Impact of Relationships, Change in Progress mini camp

Change in Progress, one of the two Initiatives of Change South Africa programmes. It held a weekend long camp for 29 young people at the Catholic Don Bosco Youth Centre in Walkerville, Johannesburg from the 28th to 30th June 2019. The theme of the camp was to explore the role and impact of our relations.

 It’s said that the youth is the hope of our future and this sums up the ideology behind Change in Progress programme. The programmes vision is to develop self-awareness and mentor youth in their transitional phases such as from teen to young adult, from a schooler to a student, ect. This leads to development of soft skills like as self-esteem, morals, introspection, positive attitude, problem solving and Time management relates skills among others. The programmes mission is to have camps, retreats, community outreaches, workshops and dialogues.

The participants were a mixed group of 29 men and women from greater Johannesburg as well as two from Zimbabwe (who took part in the IofC/MRA camp outside Gweru last year) between the ages of 16 and 30 years. This group was coordinated by a team of five faculty plus a Catholic junior priest.  We all took part in conversations on the following topics:  values; empathetic communication; impact of relationships; relating to our parents and next steps together. With activities like hikes/ nature walks, group discussions, presentations, concert, bonfire, prayers, team building and story sharing as delivery of the objective. The group comes from different organisations that promote healthy living and leadership training for youth, from church groups and from Initiatives of Change-Zimbabwe.

From the onset the expectations from participants was clear, ‘how do I restore my relationship with my parent or close family members’? As the programme our expectation is to grow a nucleus of youth willing to inherit the Initiative of Change methodologies of a reflective and moral based lifestyle. This vibrant and sharp group never had a dull moment and the support to each other as strangers to friends was heart-warming.

The 1st morning session’s theme was ‘Values’.  What do we mean by values? Some of the responses from the group were: ‘Values are something close to your heart which you sacredly take care of.’ ‘Principles that shape moral behaviour.’ ‘Values are guidelines.’ ‘Standards one lives by.’ ‘Love – be the love of God.’ Why values? ‘Values shape us.’ ‘They bring respect for the person next to you.’ ‘When we lose values we lose who we are.’ Faculty member Lucel Snyers shared her story of growing up with her grandparents who taught her humility, a strict mother and no father figure. Part of the family were wealthy and her side of the family battled financially. This filled her with hate.  However she realized ‘you cannot pay hate with hate. Going back to our values is finding our way forward. I now know how to be the original me and not live with a mask.’ One of the young men made the point, ‘There is a negative value – that of taking offence. That builds a wall and stops us from growing.’ Another of the faculty, Cleopadia Mohlaodi challenged, ‘with everything you do (ask yourself), am I part of the problem or part of the solution.’

Relationship with parents and relationship in general were the toughest of conversation and highlighted that we can be young but we carry so much pain in our hearts. Most did not believe in themselves and did not trust that they had anything worthy to share or life as an individual. They required a lot encouragement to reach out and mentoring so that they can trust again, that they had value as a person and as a member of the camp, even when they go back to their normal life. As they began to share their thoughts they started to gain confidence in themselves and more genuine friendships were developed.

Some outcomes were techniques to value their parents after understanding parenting styles as well as human dynamics. Development of Self-care, self-vision and self-trust after understanding that every though is ones next action and each one of us determines what the universe will attract on our behalf. A participant said’  I go home more than ready to have heart to heart conversations with my mother, the only parent I know because I don’t want to carry on resenting what I don’t understand about our relationship’. Another expressed that ‘ the hate and difficulty towards my mother is enormous, I am not ready to face it because I am just not ready, however I go back to reality with a renewed sense of prayer and that somewhere in the future things will be alright again’. Mentioning that, ‘cutting off relationships when I felt that they become too close had been a trend for me, I now see that my understanding of what a relationship is has been limited, and I want to know more about being in a good relationship with myself first.’

Two of the faculty members experienced camping for the first time in their late twenties, and both can’t stop sharing that being part of a faculty and a bit older than the participants means nothing because many things shared from the heart are the same. This camp was for everyone involved for we are all on a learning journey of our different relationships throughout our lives.

Change in Progress will continue to stive and create camp, or camp like programs, would do a great deal to give them skills they need in order to make choices about the future that will include a fulfilling life. It was clear from the campers that they thought it was the best time they ever had and a very powerful life skill experience.

It is with the greatest honour as the Change in progress programme to thank Initiatives of Change South Africa, Glenco Maboyi Attorneys, parents and Guardians of the participants, the participants, the Johannesburg Cathedral, Don Bosco centre and each faculty and everyone who made this possible for the investment made herein. We appreciate you.

Report by Cleo Mohalodi and Karabo Ratsoma