Global Newsroom

Peace Circle Workshops in South Africa

Thursday, 5. May 2011

In March workshops were conducted in Pretoria, Laudium and Ventersdorp. Each workshop had challenges of its own.

Portia and Cleo, with staff of the hair salon and owner, Hannelie Minnie (Photo: Jackie Euvrard)The beauty and hair salon is in the heart of a Pretoria suburb where Peace Circles was invited to conduct a workshop by the owner over a five week period for not only the staff that was divided because of personal issues but for herself too.

The group was very religious which posed the challenge of finding a way to get behind the façade which some used to hide their true feelings.

As the workshop proceeded they began to understand more about themselves and unresolved issues still in their personal lives which affected their performance at work and in relationships they valued presently in their lives.

By the end of the workshop two colleagues sat down and sorted out their differences and as a means to sustain what they as a group had learned they compiled a Team Charter which is now hanging in the salon.

White Blocks is a sub economic area in Laudium where there is a high rate of unemployment, trust issues in the community, a huge drug problem and the youth lack motivation and courage to face every day challenges. To top it all the police show very little co-operation.

The participants expressed how hopeless and defeated they felt in the light of all these challenges. The only way we could begin to help was to offer coping skills, empowering them to find new courage and hope again.

Role play allowed some important moments to take place as real situations in the community or home were acted out. One person said, “I feel relieved inside because I have expressed myself in a way I have not done before.”

A grandmother had a restraining order against her grand- daughter. Unknown to both of them they were invited to attend. The granddaughter apologised for disrespecting her grandmother by calling her names and abusing her while under the influence of drugs. Tears of joy were shed as we witnessed reconciliation and trust restored.

Grandmother, (l), and granddaughter (3rd from l) (Photo: Jackie Euvrard)Some of them found the courage to start implementing initiatives they had conviction about. The days together were the beginning of a long road ahead of reconstruction, building trust and moving from hopelessness to hope. A powerful group of inter denominational pastor’s wives from the black community invited Peace Circles to conduct a workshop in Ventersdorp, a racially sensitive town. When replying to the question, “If you were in the shoes of the white community in the town, how would you deal with situations in a positive way?, they made a list and at the top of that list was, 'we would apologise for the wrongs we’ve done.'”

Workshop held in the home of one of the participants (Photo: Jackie Euvrard)During the two days we had a glimpse of the personal struggles, hurt, anger and pain they were either going through or thought they had dealt with. At the end of the module on the Power of Forgiveness, everyone wrote on a piece of paper the thing they wanted to leave behind which was then burnt as a symbol of ‘letting go’ and giving it to God.

As a group they are meeting once a month to seek God’s way forward. One of the first plans they have is to initiate a women’s conference on 9th August in Ventersdorp. A bold attempt!

Could it be the beginning of what is needed to break from the historical past in the town and find a common future? We trust and hope so.

Portia Mosia
Cleo Mohlaodi
Jackie Euvrard