The Wellness Workshops have continued, and the team recently wrapped up another successful cycle of workshops reaching almost  80 people. The workshops focus on strengthening people’s knowledge and motivation regarding healthy living practices. We acknowledge that while sharing information is important, expanding people’s understanding and shifting people’s perspectives of themselves is key if we are to enable lasting change. We have reworked the way we run the workshops to increase participation – and this new approach is already bearing fruit! The facilitators have gone back to co-facilitating and we have seen the strength of working in this way, being able to support each other in the workshops and bring a mix of their skills to the space.  The facilitators continue to build on people’s already-existing knowledge and affirm their lived experiences in ways that build trust and agency.

The feedback from the groups has shown the depth of their learning and the impact of the programme on their lives:

“Now that I learned about it [HIV], I can recognize the symptoms and support family members who might be HIV positive so they are not alone”

“I implemented the knowledge to my family at home. Cleo (the facilitator) told us about feeding options and a family member was mix feeding and I explained it to them so they no longer do mix feeding”

Increasingly we are exposed to other issues outside of people’s physical health concerns that impact on their sense of wellbeing. In the follow up workshops we create the space for groups to process the issues they are faced with and support them in accessing the support and services that they need. One group member shared: “Mamelani came back and shared skills to help our children who are exposed to drugs and how to talk and deal with them”. We are looking at how to deepen this aspect of our work.

The Community Champions Programme continues to work with inspiring women from the communities that we serve. Patricia, one of the Champs has been working hard to make her dream a reality! She is now running her own crèche for children from her area. In her words, you can see the impact the programme had on her life:

“At the time, my life was miserable. I just stayed at home for the whole day doing nothing after my daughter had left to school and I started getting bored and frustrated. When I joined the group I felt a change in my way of thinking and surprisingly, no more stress. When I finished wellness programme, I was chosen as one of the Community Champions. This is when I got to spend more time with different people from different communities. During this process is when I planted the seed for the passion I have for children and how I can put this passion into my community. The workshop inspired me and motivated me to be curious to know more about the resources that we had in my community: e.g. Clinics, Libraries and Soup Kitchens. For me was a BIG learning process. It also made me to believe in me – gaining more confidence and focusing on what I really want to do in my community – to set up my goals for the future. I enjoyed every minute with the group and our facilitators. I gained more knowledge and had more ideas about how to be a community developer.”

Our Mamelani Champions really enjoyed the time they spent with Michel Friedman recently doing Jin Shin Jitsu, focusing on the importance of silence, self-reflection and relaxation. The Wellness Team have also been sharing their relaxing and healing skills with others. On Mandela Day the facilitators spent time at an old aged home in Nyanga doing hand massages for the seniors – as our way of giving back! The team was also invited to Maitland Clinic to do massages as part of the Women’s Wellness Day Event.

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