Our individual facilitation journeys
My journey as a facilitator of healing/learning spaces began as a seed in childhood, by the time I was a teenager I knew I wanted to be a pastor or a teacher. The one seemed to mean working with adults and the other children in my head. I chose children.
I started with Youth With A Mission straight out of school and over the next decade did a number of their University of the Nations courses. The highlight of the journey was the Teachers of the Nations course with Dr. James Kilkenny at Christian Heritage School in Tyler Texas. It was while I was teaching grade 3 and grappling with the new things I was learning at this school that I realised that I needed to get more training in social work, as my interest was broader than the classroom. I was interested in the society that the children lived in.
In 2000 we moved back to South Africa and settled in Cape Town working with Beautiful Gate, burdened by the impact of HIV on children in Southern Africa at the time. Holger stayed working at Beautiful Gate for 4 years, while I stayed home with my toddler and baby at the time. In 2002 I started studying with Philippi Trust, South Africa to get a diploma in counselling. In 2005 Holger and I started an organisation called Mercyaids focusing on children affected and infected by HIV. And later that year we both got involved with Philippi Trust’s OVC camps and soon became directors of the camps. In 2007, I started a 2 year process with the Zakheni Arts Foundation and became a Firemaker facilitator. The idea was to teach the program’s skills to adults who worked directly with children at risk in communities. The focus was on how to use the arts to help children express and address their psychosocial needs. Working cross-culturally with adults in the areas of creativity, emotion and helping people own and tell their stories changed the way I thought adults learned. And I discovered that language does not have to be a barrier to learning. Two things happened during this process, I became a passionate facilitator of experiential learning, and I made a shift towards working with adults who work with children rather than working directly with the children.
At the end of 2008 the the various strands in my life converged and the idea of what my facilitative role should look like became clear. I got involved with the OVC training of Philippi Trust and from that point Barbara and I became the trainers. At the end of 2009 we changed the name of the program to Resilient Kids.
The travelling I have done with Resilient kids has shaped me even more. In places like Uganda, Liberia, Ireland and Germany I have been amazed to see how effectively the tools we use work cross-culturally. I have been touched by the stories of many people overcoming very hard things and continuing to give out and create safe places for children.
I am very grateful for the training and learning opportunities I have had. They have shaped my philosophy of healing spaces where learning can happen, and I continue to grow in the direction of the best possible training for people who directly work with all children at risk in our society.
As far back as I can remember I have loved learning and discovering and I wanted to know why as much as how or what. I also had a desire to teach. Another constant characteristic, if that is what it is, has been the resistance to and intense dislike of being told what to think, coupled with an equally intense dislike of having personal choice taken away from me. These strands shaped my choice of study and career, though I prefer the term vocation – of teaching. They also shaped the way I approached teaching – how I formulated lessons, how I ran my classroom, how I created learning opportunities outside of the formal classroom setting. What we now know as ‘facilitating learning spaces’.
A different strand relevant to my role at Resilient Kids, though this took longer to recognise and own, has to do with emotion and feelings – more specifically my difficulty with feelings. Mostly my own. Not with feeling – I think I have always felt things deeply. But with what to do with feelings, when, where, how and with whom to express what I felt – even to name it was sometimes hard.
In 2003 I attended a course run by Aloe Christian Listeners. Listening was something I did easily so I thought the course would be interesting. It was on this course that I was asked what I felt about something. I may have been asked that question before but it seemed to me that is was a whole new way of seeing the world, though my initial response was to wonder why that (what I felt) was important, even relevant. I could quickly tell you what I thought about pretty much any situation – though, being ultra-introverted I was not necessarily going to do so. I became a trainer with that organisation and over the next few years I learned a lot and began to change the way I listened, taught and interacted. As well as being the start of my own personal journey around my emotions it was the next step – a huge step, I think – in working out my vocation to teach outside the maths class. I was studying theology at the time and had a growing compulsion, if that’s the right word, to create spaces where people – particularly youth and children – could encounter God in a way that led to wholeness, connectedness with themselves, God and others.
In 2005 I did Philippi Trust’s Level 1 Counselling Course and the following year I completed their Psychosocial Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children course. After this I was a group facilitator on camps, then involved in leading the camps, and then, from the end of 2008, the training.
Why and how I facilitate healing spaces continues to be shaped by these strands. Though new ones are added from time to time my point of departure remains that everyone – children and adults - has the ability (and is called by God) to grow in resilience, to become more whole, to experience healing, to spread this wholeness and healing to others. What we do – what I do – is to find ways to create opportunities for that process to either start or continue.
Every time we train we learn something new – about ourselves or how to facilitate. Every time we run a camp or work with children a new pathway presents itself – often as a challenge. The story continues…
My journey began after losing both parents. I was broken in ways I couldn’t begin to understand and growing up in an environment where you couldn’t really show emotions. I lost everything I had known and had no one to talk to without being judged. I guess I never healed, as more stuff happened. One day I snapped and ran away. I found refuge in music; I would spend most of my time in the clubs with no place to call home.
In 2001 I fell pregnant. I returned home, gave birth, and a few months later I met Lee (my husband.) I guess some of his good qualities started rubbing off on me, then in 2003 I lost my child. In 2004, I got pregnant again and the child died in 2005. That is when I hit rock bottom. I was not the same after that.
Lee and I moved to South Africa away from everything. I needed a new start just Lee and me. But I kept seeing myself in most girls I met and I wanted to - needed to - do something to change their lives for the better. Music was the only thing that I could communicate we started a choir as a way to help the girls heal and grow stronger. But it wasn’t as effective because I was also not healed.
In 2010 I met Barbara and Kay and a new world opened. I started on my journey to my own resilience building. I realised I had been carrying a heavy load on my shoulders and no matter how hard I wanted change someone’s life I could not before I set my own life on the right paths. I learned to forgive myself and my family. To love myself, find who I am, and discover the unconditional love God has for me.
Through the Kid’s Clubs I finally managed to play without regrets and laugh more, hug more, express my emotions and discovered working with children and the youth is my passion. That’s the very same thing I want for my people, a safe space where everyone can be themselves without being judged or belittled. I want women and children to have a voice and make our community a better place. To be loved. To belong. To be resilient.
In 2018 I took a huge step closer to this dream as I launched Resilient Kids Zimbabwe - RK Zim as we call it. Slowly it is taking shape.
I am a compassionate person who has a passion for working with people and especially children. Ever since I attended an Autism workshop in 2004 I felt God’s calling on my life to help change the lives of children and their families. This moment was the beginning of a 14 year commitment, dedication and love for children who learn differently. Being part of each child’s journey and witnessing real changes in families has been so rewarding for me. I was trained in one-on-one play based therapy using adapted teaching methods, learnt how to manage challenging behaviours through positive reinforcement, how to use the child’s motivation to teach many skills so that they stay motivated and excited to learn, to facilitate children in mainstream schools with an emphasis on independence, create games to teach social development skills and implement it and to facilitate play dates to help children with their social skills. After a number of years I was trained as a consultant where I helped manage child specific home programmes, trained and equipped tutors and parents in behavioural therapy, facilitation and social development therapy. I did classroom observations to see how the children were doing at school and help teachers implement/problem solve and understand the child better. I also did therapy observations where I help tutors implement their goal sheet in a fun and motivated way, help them with any behavioural concerns that they had and encourage them by giving them positive feedback. Being able to value different kinds of people from different cultures helps me to listen, understand them, help them and adapt my teaching so that it is understood and easy to implement.
Through my many years of experience with families and children with special needs I learnt never to give up on a child no matter how tough things can get, that all children deserve someone to believe in them and that there is always hope because God has a beautiful plan for each and every one of us.
In June 2017 I felt the Lord change some things in my heart and heard him calling me out to a new season in my life. During this change I had my second daughter and God fulfilled the desire of my heart to be able to spend more time as a mom with my two children. I continue to do a few one-on-one sessions a week teaching social skills and experiences through play and I started doing this with a little boy who had been through some trauma as a baby. From this moment I knew God was directing me to help more and more children and families that have been through hard things.
My dream is to help families connect with their children, to help children have fun and learn through play, to make meaningful friendships and develop well socially and emotionally.
My journey started as a teenager that wanted to discover more about leading and developing people in such a way that they could ultimately reach their potential. That desire led me to becoming a pastor as it brings together both and allows me to work with people over an extended period of time.
It all started in 2007 as a youth leader longing to know more that made me say yes to a Sunday school / youth camp. I have never been the same thereafter. That experience and the experience of others awoken a hunger that will never be filled. I have since then facilitated/led /organizations more than a hundred camps and has loved every moment.
Through being exposed in 2007, I realised that I needed to know more, so started studying theology in 2009 and I was ordained as a minister in 2016. I started working at UCSA in 2014 as a school worker, grew in leadership and ended my time at UCSA as the Provincial Organizer in September 2019.
My involvement in school's ministry and camping gave me great exposure to creating a practical understanding to my theological training which has helped me a great deal as the Senior Minister at Community of Faith Stellenbosch.
Looking back I know that my journey as facilitator, motivational speaker and minister has only started.......