It’s been eight months since I stepped into my new role as Director of Mamelani Projects. During this time, so many people have asked me; “So how are you doing in your new role?” It’s a valuable question because it has helped me to continuously check in with myself and gain perspective about my journey. As people have checked in with me in this way, I’ve also felt moved to check in with them too, and this simple act has helped me to strengthen my existing relationships with my network of support.  Also, in addition to the “How are you?” question, I have discovered an even more important question in building and strengthening relationships, I am now asking: “How are we?” or “How are things between us?” It’s an awkward, yet special, question to ask. It invites us to collectively care for that which lives between us. It allows us to see things as they are and is an opportunity to truly grow relationships. With that said, I have to ask you, Mamelani supporters: ”How are things between us?” We would really like to hear from you!  As we step further into 2019, my colleagues and I recommit ourselves to one of Mamelani’s core practices of valuing the importance of relationships with each other as a team, the people we serve and the people that support us. In this newsletter, we would like to share some of our relationships and the ways we’ve been building them.

Masibonane is an IsiXhosa word meaning let us see each other. As a team, we have taken it upon ourselves to care for what lives between us as people from diverse backgrounds. We have committed to building relationships that seek to make visible and acknowledge our stories. Recently, Cleo, the Programme Manager for the Wellness Programme, cooked a meal she grew up on of amadombolo (dumplings) with vegetables and invited the team to connect over this meal. She told us how this meal, that costs very little, is meant to feed many people in the family and the extended community. Her initiative of cooking for the team showed how relationships need to be continuously nurtured, and how connections can be made when we share ourselves over a meal. We celebrate her story and our team’s continuous efforts to finding ways of being a truly relational organisation.

ProSeed to ProFruit to Procyclist

Two of the seeds have now become fruit. Lewis and Adjmali, graduates of ProSeed, our Youth Programme, joined the team a few months ago and are making an invaluable contribution to the development of ProSeed. They are joining their former mentor Leroy, now Proseed’s Programme Manager, in preparing for the 109km Cape Town Cycle Tour next month. The race itself will be a celebration of the growth in their relationship. All the best guys!

Masikhulisani Bogogo – Supporting grandmothers
On a recent site visit with the gogos, the grandmothers who are part of our Masikhulisani Bogogo programme, we witnessed the quality of relationship and understanding that lives between the team and the gogos.  One of the gogos was speaking about her journey with Mamelani and the value of the support she has both received and given. As she told her own stories of resilience and the many challenges she still faces in her community, she became emotional and it was hard for her to talk. She paused. The team sped into action: Thandi moved next to her and held the pressure points on her hands, Cleo fetched water, while Nontombi put her arm around her. No advice. Just listening. Just being. Just supporting. “I don’t keep things in anymore,” she said, “I have learnt to let it out.” In this moment, the Mamelani practice was very much evident and alive. We hope that this practice will continue to be nurtured as the programme expands to include 20 more grandmothers.

Queen of Sweden – No, it’s not a rock band!

We had the great privilege of hanging out with the Queen of Sweden who is the honorary chairperson of the World Childhood Foundation (WCF), one of Mamelani’s partners. They brought their board to South Africa to visit the projects they support and to see the impact of their contribution. We decided to meet Queen Silvia and the WCF board at Constantia Nek at Black Box Coffeeworks where Nelson, a graduate of our youth programme, works as a barista. Nelson was participating in our programme when WCF first started funding us seven years ago. When we told Nelson and his boss that they were about to serve coffee to the Queen of Sweden, in disbelief, they thought we were referring to some Swedish rock band called “The Queen of Sweden” (No such band exists, by the way!). It was all just a bit unbelievable to them, but they made sure the coffee rocked! Later that day we paid a visit to one of our partner organisations and had lunch with some of the youth there in our programme. We enjoyed that Queen Silvia and the WCF board were so down to earth; this made it easy to engage with them and share our stories. They graciously shared stories about their own transitions too. Sharing stories was a humanising experience as it allowed us to discover the connections in our experiences despite our diverse backgrounds and upbringings. Searching for points of connection is one of the ways in which we strive to enhance relationships as we walk alongside people in their development.

Building relationships with our partners
We were delighted to spend time with Ghana and Imara from the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF), one of Mamelani’s long-standing partners. We spent the day visiting the Masikhulisani Bogogo programme and two of the Community Champions. We are thankful for the quality of relationship with SLF and their support in walking alongside us in our development as an organisation. Both Imara and Ghana scored a vetkoek on our visit to Khayelitsha, which was no doubt a valuable addition to strengthening our relationship with them!

Expressing gratitude when it is due is an imperative aspect of nurturing relationships. The video below is a small, and funny, token of our appreciation to our funders for their invaluable and continued support – thank you, funders! (click on the image below to watch)

If you would like to support us before the tax year-end, you can do so in these various ways explained on our website. Remember that we have a section 18A Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) Status. Donations made in South Africa are tax deductible and Mamelani can issue receipts for income tax purposes.

Kind regards,
Gerald Jacobs

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