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Image00034How to master Life-challenges and Lack of Purpose within a South African Township

By Ulrike Schottler - Life Skills Facilitator and Kolping Member

Have you ever peeked into a traditional South African Township? The deeper you go in, the more you will find a world completely disconnected to the suburban lives of middle class South Africans.
You will experience different rules, different smells and energies.
I teach and facilitate Life-Skills in different Townships in Gauteng. It’s truly challenging, but I love it.
When I engage with my students, they tell me that the challenges of an average South African family within a township are vast. Some of these include:

  • Lack of Education
  • Poor social cohesion
  • Unemployment
  • Inadequate Governmental support

These topics can be very stressful at times, so I am going to share with you, four steps of my interactions with my students and how they benefit from these steps.

So for the very first step I invite my students to reflect on who they are as a person. And why it is important to get to know themselves before they can conquer any of the above mentioned challenges.

So we start with simple behaviour, belief and perception challenges and interestingly enough, we discover how it is their thoughts that create their reality of the world.

They understand that by knowing themselves better they can be more authentic and true to themselves, which simultaneously develops a higher self-esteem and self-confidence.

The second step is to find out what actions are really inspiring and fulfilling for them:

I use a range of self-reflecting questions:

  • What do you love to do?
  • What are you good at?
  • What have you been praised for?
  • How do you spend your time? And many more.

Delving into these questions is challenging, but if they answer them honestly, they discover a whole new person and they start to figure out what their purpose in life is. With the third step they discover how to set clearly defined and meaningful goals. Goals that are truly their own, as there is a lot of peer pressure in townships.

I encourage them to find a like-minded friend or family member who is willing to support them all the way. This way they have more fun and success reaching their goals.

The fourth step is to become an effective communicator. Given that good communication is such an important element in successful inter-personal relationships, I teach my students the essential skills that are required:

1. Learn to listen

When listening to a person, so many of us are not actually listening to what the person has to say, but instead are thinking of ways to impose our opinion on them. Does this sound familiar? It requires us to suspend our own agenda and give attention to the agenda of the person we are listening to. I teach them how to say “that’s interesting” rather than imposing their opinion. Allow the views of the person to unfold you are listening to. This might take some discipline, but only then you know where they are coming from.

2. Own your feelings

This is one of the most challenging steps. An important element of good communication is being capable of handling confrontation. It is absolutely necessary to confront people when we feel that they have stepped out of line. We must however be very careful about how we do this.

My students learn that the best way to confront a guilty party, is to honestly communicate the impact their actions have had on them, whilst completely avoiding any accusation against the person’s character. So they start owning their feelings and convey them to the other person without blaming. This way they learn how to be assertive without being aggressive or submissive.

3. Be honest

Lastly I point out the importance of honesty. Good communication does not survive and can’t exist by being dishonest. Very often, amongst their peers the pressure is high, so everyone wants to be the best, have the best, do the best. Habitually abusing communication by being dishonest has the consequence that people will stop believing in what you say.

Learning and practicing all the above steps will, over time, develop confidence and assertiveness, so that young people in our townships can deal effectively with their challenges.

Radio Veritas listeners recently donated a quantity of jumble to the Kolping Johannesburg Family.

Kolping Society received a large number of bags of jumble from Radio Veritas listeners, and these were either distributed it from Zandspruit or Riverlea Familes to the poor and needy

Some of the better quality jumble is sorted and put inot bags, and these are purchased for a minimal fee ny township ladies, so that they can further on sellthe cloths in their communities and make a profit for themselves - this is one of the ways the Kolping Society tries empower the people to start up their own businesses.

Kolping Johannesburg also received donations that were collected from North Sands Learning Academy in aid of Mandela Day and these were distributed to those in need.

Jumble from radio veritas lsiteners thank you

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