Trip to South Africa Nov 2016-March 2017: Love and Care was the focus working with Aurelia Kaitesi to try to get the City to fix water leaks, to build strength in the Board of Governors, to hold the Board of Trustees accountable.
Beside the Love and Care work, Gary and I led a meditation retreat in Ixopo KZN in which we connected mindfulness practice to working with fear, anxiety, depression and trauma.
2016/2017 Love and Care in Masiphumelele, Cape Town South Africa, has upgraded the day centre with good security and safety. Aurelia, the principal, has worked tirelessly and the requirements for registration have been met, however the land has yet to b
This year Angie Beltane from the Cowichan Valley made her first visit as a volunteer to South Africa and I introduced her to Ukulapha in Slangspruit KZN. She was invited to share her skills as an organic farmer creating a garden at the Slangspruit primary school. I offered a few trauma first aid workshops to teachers and community members. Four Canadians interns were also at the school and they certainly enriched the school. We stayed with Nelly in the township and were entertained by the local children who I had met when Gary and I lived in the community for two months a few years ago. Thanks Angie for your amazing contribution!
I leave Cape Town tomorrow morning after 5 weeks. I spoke in the blog of January 9 about the richness of playing and working here in the sun and surf. I would swim each morning and walk on the beach and then get ready for the day. I will give more of a picture overview this time. The two initiatives I am involved with are Khayelitsha grief and loss project founded and headed by Nontobeko Moni and Love and Care Day centre founded and headed by Aurelia Kaitesi.
Love and Care is in a new and welcome phase as Aurelia is able to share some of the responsibility with her new Board of Governors who are really interested in Love and Care becoming a bona fida pre-school for children. Aurelia has for the past 12 years been principal, fund raiser, curriculum developer, parent liaison, emergency child care worker, networker with agencies and government departments, teacher, buyer of food and other supplies, building supervisor and repair supervisor, financial reporter, landlady and on and on. It was much more than was possible to keep on top of. Love and Care is getting ready for registration with the social development department and once this is done there will be some regular monthly funds which will pay teachers and other staff. The second building on the property which houses the classrooms was built by an Irish builder who used poor materials and ultimately left the country without finishing. Aurelia has, as small funds have come in, been fixing up what he left behind.
I am hoping we can raise funds in Canada to get everything ready to pass health regulations and building safety. The property must also be transferred from agricultural zoning to school.
Please put out the word and let’s gather CA$12,000 which should do it. Let me know if you have some leads.
Khayelitsha Grief and Loss Project is in its fourth year and they plan on reaching 800 children in 2016 providing 10 week support groups for children who have lost someone they love. The faci;itators are also able to identify children in dire need of clothing a school supplies. The funds from Canada go through VIDEA (Victoria International Development Education Association). Nontobeko decided to add trauma first aid this year so I provided a workshop to some of the facilitators and youth (there were cute babies there as well. They were really impressed at the sense of calm they experienced and said, “It was definitely useful and the children will really benefit.”
Nontobeko is applying to another funder as well and if she gets the funding then 1500 children should benefit. Schools are asking for more groups, children who have been in groups are wanting more emotional support. Both are saying children are more able to learn because of these groups so are doing better at school. Check out the Khayelitsha website (in process)
I head to the Ukulapha Project next for 2 weeks with Angie, a friend from Cowichan and after that 2 weeks in Zimbabwe, so til then I wish you a warm heart and a healthy body.
Love and blessings
"The causes of suffering are in my mind, so this is what I must focus on if I want relief from suffering."
We must understand the causes of suffering and deal with our own afflicted states (mind and emotions). The cause is self-grasping, believing in the I, me, and mine. I recently read the book Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah, who weaves his tale from the history of war, mining and the undermining of cultural ways in Africa. It was set in the Central African Republic, but it could have been any of a number of countries, where the people have been 'sold out' by corporate greed. Governments are handing over their countries for economic benefit.
I am shocked, like many other readers, at the treatment of the locals and it is hard to see my part in it. Rutile is a mineral being mined for our benefit so that we can have tiny electronic devices like cameras, cell phones, computers and so on (titanium - it makes very light metal. Coltan is another such metal). Karmically we are involved in the way the mining companies are treating community members in Africa, and the garment workers in the sweat shops of Bangladesh, and the indigenous people whose land is being ruined by corporate oil companies. We have desires, we want what makes our lives easier. We want the latest, the fastest and the best deal.
Money has developed into a mighty power. It breaks my heart to hear elders in Africa and indigenous North Americans speak of cultural ways that kept people connected to the earth and one another, and their worry for the young, who are exchanging these values for those of self cherishing - immediate satisfaction of such a temporary nature.
This time calls for courage and the cultivation of kindness and compassion, not merely as an idea, but in the way we treat others including the earth and all beings. In this way we can be free from fear and experience true happiness.
It is simple:
It is heartening to hear that children are being taught a very useful life skill and that teachers are interested in mindfulness.
I would encourage teachers who teach mindfulness to students to make it a regular practice themselves first as it is less a technique than a way of being. The children will see right through you if you do it otherwise.
I was a school counselor for many years and in times of great student stress I would teach meditation as part of stress management. The students said, "This is the best thing we have ever done, why is it not taught more?" A parent complained and said it was of the devil. I never did understand as focus, peace and kindness are not the usual attributes of the devil. I used a mindfulness bell in classrooms where there were a number of students who were labeled attention deficit disordered. It helped all the children to regulate their nervous systems and the teacher bought her own bell as the ADD labeled kids had respite from the hyper activity and began to focus more.
It is interesting how this idea of teaching children mindfulness brings up defensiveness in some people who feel that it is religion. There is no dogma nor teachings in mindfulness other than focus, peace and kindness which is really the core of most religions until they are claimed by dogmatic zealots. It is true mindfulness is a guiding practice brought to the West by Buddhist teachers who have generously given permission for mindfulness to be used wherever it is useful. It is certainly not all that Buddhism teaches and one of the founding principles is that no-one should proselytize. Another is an instruction to any practitioner to use their own minds to decide what is right for them. If it works do it. The Science of Mind conferences bring scientists and others together to compare research that will be of benefit to all people regardless of religion. The Contemplative Christians are always part of this discussion.
Fear and separation lead to anxiety and sometimes depression and people are suffering. Mindfulness is a useful antidote to suffering and as the young woman on the recent CBC interview said, "You get out of it what you put into it."
Rokpa Chitungwiza Relief Day Care Centre Report – May 2015
When children with disabilities are educated with other children without disabilities, they learn age-appropriate social skills by imitating children without disabilities. Therefore, these children learn to be more independent and acquire developmentally advanced skills. Also, they develop friendships and a more positive self-image by having the opportunity to do what other children do in the community.
Parents of children with disabilities by seeing their children accepted by others and successful in integrated settings, parents feel better about themselves and their children as they testified. Parents of children with disabilities also have the chance to become familiar with other parents and participate in the same community activities. In addition educating and involvement parents of children with and without disabilities together can facilitate major changes in the community.
There are many reasons to provide opportunities for parents of children with disabilities to learn and interact with other parents of children without disabilities in the community.
We are working with community and parents of children with disabilities who are interested to up lift the life of venerable people.
The Relief Day-Care Centre
The number of children is increasing there are now 35 children registered with a daily average attendance of 33 children. The group of mothers of children with disabilities and the community are all happy because they have a Relief Day-care Centre, a place where they can take their children to, learn to grow vegetables and healing relaxation. This was a great achievement to the community and children with and without disabilities to have a place where they can get support.
Those children who have been locked in the house they are now happy with others, learning to play with other children with and without disabilities. Some children they could not feed themselves but now they can feed themselves. Parent are impressed with this greet achievement. (the specific stories are coming)
Training at Chitungwiza Centre
Chitungwiza community seems to be increasingly motivated now as there are more and more people coming to register for workshops because they now have time to learn different things since their children are going to the Relief Day-care centre (including those without children on the centre).
Training on Health Living is now taking place every Wednesdays at Chitungwiza Centre in the gazebo. We have two groups; first group has 15 participants and the second group 27 participants. More participants are coming to register for the workshops.
The centre is running workshops on healthy living to familiarizing participants on but not limited to:
§ Basic nutrition and its relevance in our day to day lives
§ Common understanding of the impact of HIV/AIDS on our lives
§ Relieving stress through easy breathing, massage, reflexology, stretching exercises and relaxation
§ Sharing and learning from each other’s experiences on parental roles and responsibilities or challenges from families
§ Supporting and encouraging others in the community towards HIV/AIDS prevention, support and care in the community
Whoever receives training should pass it on to others i.e. we expect the trained parents especially for those children with disabilities to pass on the skills by practicing with their children at home. Some parents with young adults also want their children to learn the organic nutrition gardening skills. The centre garden has this huge positive image in the community and we are building on it.
The After School Club
The After School Club has all its ground work done during the holidays and we are finalising the selection of facilitators/tutors. We are also registering children interested in using the facility. We are going to start next week.
This has been completed, the pictures will be sending via DropBox. It is already being utilised for trainings and for parent-to-parent support meeting by the parents of children with disabilities.
Khayelitsha Grief Support meeting the needs of vulnerable children who are grieving in Cape Town South Africa. May 24, 2015
ü A set of twins (boys) and a younger sibling (girl) who are all in grade 1 had experienced traumatic violence and death of their mother due to violence. A man who was a relative to the mother intended to shoot and kill her husband during the fight because he couldn’t “tolerate” the fact that he was so physical abusive to his wife. Unfortunately the man accidentally shot the wife dead in front of these three kids instead of killing the man. The father of the kids became more abusive to his children until the neighbours noticed the situation, reported to welfare and the kids were taken for adoption. One of the twins found it difficult to cope and even to do exercises that could help him deal with his anger during support group session. At the end of the sessions, the matter had been reported the class teacher and school principal. They were amazed and thankful with the work we do and suggested to take the matter to the school social worker. The class teacher confirmed the children’s antisocial behaviour but was not sure why would the kids behave that way at their tender age.
ü During the closing session, the kids get opportunity to write letters and express themselves about group sessions. They all gave positive feedback and only two of them wrote that the group helped them a lot to express their feelings, but they still find it a bit hard to have closure about the loss of their grandparents. We asked the school principal to also include the two kids with the twins for the school social worker sessions.
ü Most teachers gave very positive feedback about the children’s improved behaviour and academic performance.
ü The school principal and class teachers of children who received school needs were so overwhelmed with the gesture of uniform bought for the kids. The children were so delighted especially with the hooded jackets during winter time.