Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What a journey it has been...

As I write this blog, my last for LETCEE, it is a bitter sweet experience. On the one hand I am very excited about all the new adventures coming my way and on the other hand I know I am going to miss the communities and the people that I have been working with over the past three and a half years.

I was asked to reflect on my time here at LETCEE and as I began to reflect hundreds of memories, feelings and emotions flooded my mind. As I began to wade through them all and to sort them all out I realized one thing....I have grown  incredibly over the time that I have been here. One of our core beliefs is that we want to see women empowered and see them grow into the women they were created to be...not only have I been witness to this growth in many women's lives but upon reflection, I am one of those women who have grown.

I came to LETCEE having worked in communities for almost four years as an Occupational Therapist, either in district hospitals or community schools. I was also about half way through my Masters course in Early Childhood Intervention and I really thought that I knew what it was to work IN a community and with families. One of my greatest learning curves was learning what it is to work WITH a community and not tell them what they need. I learnt that working IN a community does not necessarily mean that you are working together WITH them and helping them to meet THEIR EXPRESSED NEEDS. It has been a frustrating yet rewarding process and it has really made me re-evaluate how I conduct myself in all aspects of life in all kinds of situations. It has taught me once again to try and consider situations from all angles before jumping to conclusions. This environment of mutual respect has created many relationships and situations that formed fond memories that I will carry with me as I move into the next phase of my life. I hope that I will be able to share this and the many other things that I have learnt at LETCEE with the people I come in contact with and help them to grow as much as I have over the past three and a half years!

Friday, January 20, 2012

What an inspiring young lady!

I was really blown away by this young lady. What a love she must have for people and it was so good to hear of someone who still believes she can make a difference to the lives of others and is not so overwhelmed by need that she sits back and does nothing. Thanks Tyrah on behalf of the children that you have so generously helped! Here is the letter we received from Tyrah after she held her garage sale to raise money for children in Africa who have less than she does....

"Hello, my name is Tyrah and I am 10 years old. I live in Australia with my family. My Mama used to live in South Africa, and she tells me stories about how kids over there don't have as much as I do. I thought that there must be something I can do to help, so Mama and I came up with the idea of having a garage sale and sending our profits to help children in South Africa. Mama found LETCEE online and we decided that, that is where we should send the money we raised.

I asked all my friends and family to donate any unwanted thing they had... and boy did they have a lot of stuff!!!! It took a whole day to organize the clothes, kitchen things, DVD's, shoes, my Great Grandpa's records...the list goes on and on. Some of my family did not have anything to donate so they donated money, my Godfather and his family donated $100. WOW!

Finally we had th garage sale on Saturday December 3rd 2011. My Great Grandparents, my Mama and Papa, my Aunty Sheila and my Mum and little brother all helped out. And some of my family even come to buy some things on the day. A lot of people gave extra money or just said 'keep the change'. All together the garage sale raised about $420 then my Uncle and Aunty donated $50 so Mama made it up to a total of $500 then with my Godfathers $100 we raised $600 in total.

I hope this small donation helps the kids have a happy Christmas this year.

From Tyrah Rose."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stories that encourage us to continue giving...

At the beginning of the year I was asked by one of our Family Facilitators (FFs) to go and visit a home where there was a 3 year old girl who is disabled. I went to visit and discovered that this little girl was hemiplegic and was not walking and not using her left hand at all. She had been to physioytherapy once but had never returned.

I spent a long time counselling the mother, grandmother and FF, encouraging them not to do everything for this little girl and to encourage her to walk and use her hand. We also spent some time discussing the different activities and exercises they could do to help her to regain function. They then attended physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the local clinic.

I had not seen this little girl again until earlier this week when we went to spent some time in her home. She is walking and running well and participating in all activities with the other children. It was so encouraging to see how with a little extra information this family has been able to change the life of their little girl so she can participate fully in the family and community activities around her.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting the Gogo's involved

Iris Mzila, one of our Senior Trainers, had a great experience recently when conducting a support visit with a Family Facilitator from Matimatolo and we asked her if she would share her experience with us:

“ On the 10th of August I visited Gugu Cele while she was visiting a family in Matimatolo. I was so pleased to see that the Gogo was participating in the activities that were being done by the children and the Family Facilitator. The Family Facilitator was encouraging cleanliness and safety in the home by telling a story about picking up papers and rubbish in their yard. Both children and adults listened intently to the story. Afterwards the Gogo spoke to me about the benefit of the programme to her family. She is very happy that her grandchildren are able to be a part of this programme. She likes to listen to the children as they engage with the Family Facilitator and while I was there she also told a story to the children.” Iris Mzila.

It is stories like this that encourage us and remind us of the difference we can make in the lives of the families that we work with. Well done Gugu for including caregivers in your morning programme, making them feel that they are important, have invaluable experiences to share and play an integral role in helping their children learn and grow.

What makes me smile :)

Once again, in the midst of the busyness and all the problems that we face when working with communities and families, in the midst of sometimes feeling despondant because we have done all that we can but that doesn't feel like enough or doesn't solve anything, in the midst of all this I was faced with a story that made me smile....

Our Eshane Family Facilitators have just finished their ECD training for Home and Family Based ECD practitioners and last week we asked them for feedback on the course and what it had meant to them. The women said they enjoyed the training and now they know what to do with the children they work with whereas before they felt less confident and empowered. One of the things that really stood out for me is that they said that now they know what to do if a child is injured while they are playing with them and how to follow all the safety procedures correctly. I was encouraged that they have so easily incoporated what they learnt into their programmes and that we have been able to make a difference in not only their lives but in the lives of the children they work with.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Women's Day 2011

As Women's Day approaches we at LETCEE have been considering just how things have changed for the women of South Africa over the past few decades. Women's Day is a day where we remember how women of South Africa stood up for their rights by staging a peaceful and silent protest at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Through the courageous acts of these and many other women, the women in South Africa have had many more opportunities afforded to them.

This then makes us think of the many women we have worked with and are working with at LETCEE. They are quietly going about getting a qualification and empowering themselves as women and inputting into the lives of the young children of our country. What a privilege to be working with these amzing women who are changing the lives of not only themselves but the future of SA's young children :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Whose life am I influencing??

The other day I had an interesting experience just outside the LETCEE offices. A young teenager greeted me saying, "Hallo Aunty Cezanne, how are you?" Her face looked vaguely familiar so I stopped and chatted to her asking about school and life in general. It was a really great experience, however afterwards I was trying to figure out who she was and where she knew me from.

A few days later I realized that she was one of the Buddies who had left the programme but it got me to thinking...
How many people's lives do we influence on a daily basis positively and sometime negatively?
Are we always aware of the influene that we have?

This experience has made me take greater note of how I act and how I treat people as you never know what an impact you can have.