By Cleopadia Mohlaodi, Anthony Duigan and Manon Michelle Monhemius
The aim of the trustbuilding project in South Africa is to create clusters of united and cohesive families in Cape Town and Johannesburg to act as catalysts for rebuilding trust and broken structures in society.
A history of broken families
The history of broken families stems from the issues created by apartheid and the migrant labour system which separated men from their families. This began in the early part of the 20th century and became institutionalized in the mining industry in particular, as mining was one of South Africa’s largest industries by the middle of the 20th century, apart from agriculture. This culture of dysfunctionality has been perpetuated, and arguably made worse, by the absence of several generations of fathers in many families. This is especially the case in the black and coloured ethnic groups, leaving no role models for young boys and girls, creating inter-generational tension and conflict.
The current reality is generational transfer of present and past unhealed traumas, lack of parenting skills, broken families and a search for identity and belonging, among young people in particular. Thus, the focus of the trustbuilding project is on inner healing, justice, and trustbuilding between parent/guardian and child - rebuilding trust and broken structures in society as a foundation for a more just and peaceful society.
'Before attending the Inner healing workshop, I had suicidal thoughts. The sessions were painful, however they helped me align my life plans and get inner healing. I got employed soon after my participation, I fixed the relationship with my children and talked about my anger. My home with my children has warmth now and I feel dignified as a mother to be able to provide and know my children are happy when I am happy'.
Rebuilding family structures
The team has been conducting Creators of Peace (CoP) workshops that focus on inner healing in an informal settlement in Pretoria, where they have demonstrated the power of holding a safe space for people to find their own inner healing. These workshops are part of the preparatory phase of the trustbuilding work that will be built around family dialogues. Several workshop participants said that they want to bring family members to these trustbuilding dialogues, which will begin in the last quarter of 2021.
‘Before, I was unable to sit down and be united with my family and used to think that inner healing and peace depend on how I feel. Now I am on a journey to self-discovery and feel I am ready to unite with my uncle and niece, more so, I now understand that inner healing and inner peace come from within, not from what I would be feeling or going through.’
The team has secured partnerships, key contacts and connections with social workers who are helping design family dialogues in a trauma-aware way. A lead facilitator who runs inner healing workshops in Cape Town received training over the past few months and has put together a team to run the workshops in Cape Town.
South Africa is currently under a national lockdown due to COVID-19, which has pushed back the trustbuilding project timeline. Despite these challenges, the team is working hard towards their aim of creating clusters of united and cohesive families.
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The Trustbuilding Program is aimed at addressing divisive issues at the international and national levels, on the premise that only those who have undergone the internal process of becoming trustworthy themselves can close gaps across the globe. The Program was launched by Initiatives of Change International in 2019 with projects in Kenya, Canada and France, and in 2021 Australia, Indonesia, Nepal and South Africa have joined as well.