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Alumni Spotlight: Khanya Mtamzeli

Meet Khanya, a remarkable individual and proud YDP Alumni! 🎓 In 2019, Khanya graduated high school, carrying with him a wealth of experiences from his time as a Just Grace learner. 

Reflecting on his experience at Just Grace, Khanya lists the below as highlights and key enablers: 

✨ Personalised instruction and support  

✨ A flexible learning environment  

✨ Learning new skills, particularly in effective communication  

✨ Boosted confidence and motivation  

✨ Witnessing the tangible results of hard work 

Khanya has a passion for numbers and data, and is currently in his final year of BSc in Mathematical and Statistical Science at the University of the Western Cape.

Khanya’s future aspirations are nothing short of inspiring:  

🎓 Pursuing higher degrees in Mathematics and Statistics, including honours, masters, and potentially a PhD.  

💼 Working in fields that leverage statistical and mathematical expertise, such as data science and academic research.  

🌍 Dreaming big – inspired by his time as part of Just Grace, he envisions using his skills to help future generations.

Not just a dreamer, Khanya is actively contributing to the academic community at UWC. He serves as a Statistics tutor and holds the role of Vice Treasurer at the UWC Math Club. 

Khanya’s dedication and passion for education are truly remarkable, and we are proud to have him as part of our alumni community.

Uniting Against Gender-Based Violence: Just Grace’s Ongoing Commitment to Change

Gender-based violence (GBV) casts a dark shadow over South Africa, affecting countless lives and communities. At Just Grace, we are steadfast in our determination to catalyse change. Through our GBV workshops, we are actively working to address this pressing issue with the unwavering support of the Department of Social Development.

The GBV Epidemic in South Africa

Understanding the magnitude of our mission begins with acknowledging the grim reality of GBV in South Africa. It is a sobering fact that South Africa has one of the highest rates of GBV globally, with women and children bearing the brunt of this crisis. The ramifications of GBV are profound, affecting physical and mental well-being, perpetuating cycles of abuse, and tearing at the social fabric of our communities.

Just Grace's Collaborative Efforts

In our resolute commitment to combat GBV, Just Grace works closely with the Department of Social Development as an integral part of our Empilweni! Thriving Communities Programme. Together, we conduct GBV workshops that directly reach 400 individuals within the community of Langa each year. These workshops are the cornerstone of our outreach, providing a platform for education, awareness, and advocacy.

Supported by research and aligned with various well-known GBV projects, our primary focus is the promotion of healthy masculinities. Our workshops place significant emphasis on examining masculinity within the context of GBV, with a specific focus on engaging groups of men within the community. This approach acknowledges that the active involvement of men in the conversation is crucial in the fight against GBV.

Equally important is our second workshop, designed to equip women with the essential knowledge and tools to recognise and effectively respond to harmful dynamics in their relationships. This workshop is a platform for women to gain empowerment, build resilience, and promote healthier interactions within their personal and interpersonal lives.

Beyond Workshops: Individual Support

At Just Grace, we extend our commitment beyond workshops. We have a team of social workers trained in the trauma-informed approach, offering one-on-one support to GBV survivors in the community. This personalised assistance ensures that victims of GBV receive the care and guidance they need on their journey to healing.

Join Us in the Fight

The battle against GBV is formidable, but it is a battle we must fight together. We invite you to join us in our unwavering commitment to change. Together, we can continue the conversation, raise awareness, and work diligently toward a future where everyone can live free from the fear of Gender-Based Violence.

Our collective responsibility is building a safer, more equitable society. Through education, advocacy, and empathy, we can create a world where GBV is no longer a pervasive threat.

The Inspiring Journey of Barista Alumna Bongeka

In a world where opportunities often seem out of reach, stories of resilience and transformation shine as beacons of hope. One such story is that of Bongeka, a determined individual who, after facing two years of unemployment, found her path to success through the Barista training programme offered by Just Grace. Bongeka’s journey is a testament to the power of skills development, community support, and perseverance.

UNEMPLOYMENT TO EMPOWERMENT

Life threw its share of challenges at Bongeka as she grappled with unemployment for two years. The turning point arrived when a friend recommended the Barista training programme run by Just Grace. Recognising the potential for change, Bongeka wasted no time and eagerly enrolled in the programme. Little did she know that this decision would mark the beginning of an exciting new journey.

Comprehensive training for holistic growth

In December 2022, Bongeka completed the comprehensive YAP Barista training course, encompassing not only barista skills but also personal development, professional development, and computer training. This holistic approach is designed to equip participants with vocational skills and the life skills necessary for success in the working world.

Bongeka’s journey was a testament to her dedication. She fervently embraced the training, learning valuable skills like time management and effective communication. These skills became the pillars of her newfound confidence, enabling her to approach employment opportunities with a fresh perspective.

transformation beyond skillset - a newfound confidence

Reflecting on her experience with Just Grace, Bongeka shared her deep gratitude for the programme’s transformative impact on her life. Beyond the technical skills, she gained a renewed sense of self-assurance.

Bongeka’s growth extended beyond the individual level; she embraced the value of teamwork and discovered the joy of delivering exceptional customer service.

A BEACON OF SUCCESS

Just Grace’s network of partnerships played a crucial role in Bongeka’s journey. Through these connections, a remarkable opportunity emerged for her. In February 2023, Bongeka proudly donned her Starbucks apron. This achievement was not just a professional milestone but a testament to her growth and resilience.

Paying it forward

Bongeka’s journey wasn’t just about personal success; it ignited a passion within her to inspire others in her community to embrace the programme’s opportunities and transform their lives.

Bongeka’s story reminds us that with determination, the right support system, and access to skills development, anyone can overcome adversity and achieve their dreams. Her evolution from unemployment to a confident and skilled barista is a story that uplifts and inspires. 

Just Grace’s YAP Barista training programme stands as a shining example of the positive impact that community-focused initiatives can have on individuals and society. As Bongeka continues to thrive in her role, her journey serves as a beacon of empowerment and a testament to the potential that resides within us all. So, the next time you’re in her area, remember to pop by for a cappuccino and a dose of inspiration!

Guarding against the protector, becoming the perpetrator: NGOs’ obligations to protect their beneficiaries

Children in South Africa remain a targeted and vulnerable group. In just three months between July and September 2022, a shocking 315 children in the country were killed, 294 were victims of attempted murder and 1 895 experienced grievous bodily assault.

NGO SECTOR

The NGO sector is critical in advancing children’s rights in society. Those who work and volunteer in such organisations often do so at a tremendous personal cost owing to their deep compassion and care for the children they serve and seek to protect.

However, the sad reality is that even those who should be caring for children can be the very people who violate their rights, whether intentionally or with the best intentions. In these circumstances, it is vital for NGOs to be at the cutting edge of child protection policies and practices, and to introduce checks and balances to prevent abuse from occurring on their watch. 

CHILD PROTECTION POLICIES

Child protection refers to measures taken to prevent harm to children, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

In South Africa, the Children’s Act 2005 is the crucial statute which sets out the legal framework for child protection. NGOs operating in South Africa are required to be familiar with this law and to design and implement policies that best advance the children’s interests in their care and sphere of influence.

ReGULATING BEHAVIOUR

A priority area for NGOs working with children is strictly regulating acceptable behaviour when engaging with children, both during official activities and outside of these.

All stakeholders, including the children, their parents (or alternative caregivers), staff, volunteers, contractors, suppliers and funders, should be aware of the organisation’s standards of engagement as well as reporting channels. Best practice dictates that NGO stakeholders should not be at liberty to interact with children in the NGO’s care outside of official programmes (whether physically or using digital means) save for exceptional circumstances which fall within a clear policy aimed at ensuring transparency and promoting the best interests of the child.

Some individuals should never be able to partner with NGOs involving children, and NGOs have a legal obligation to vet and confirm whether those in their team are precluded from engaging with children due to past behaviour.

data protection

Child protection policies go hand in hand with adequate data protection, governed by the relatively new and untested Protection of Personal Information Act 2013. Data protection refers to the safeguarding and responsible management of personal information, including sensitive information such as children’s photos, fingerprints and contact details.

Responsible data collection includes: collecting only the minimal amount of data needed to effectively run the programme, restricting access to such data and bringing transparency about the data collected and shared, and its purpose. In some circumstances, data collection will require the consent of a child’s parent or guardian. For example, the Children’s Act prohibits the use of a child’s image or personal information for commercial purposes (such as fundraising) without the written consent of the child’s parent or guardian.

Similarly, the Protection of Personal Information Act requires organisations to obtain consent (in the absence of another lawful ground) for collecting, using and disseminating children’s personal information.

DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT

Digital engagement has proved invaluable for our youth’s learning, particularly when considering the impacts of isolating events such as COVID-19. The United Nations Technology Committee on the Rights of the Child highlights that digital technologies present tremendous potential to realise children’s rights in General Comment No. 25, released in 2021. However, with increased access to technology comes a real and enigmatic element of risk.

Through digital sources, children have greater access to a broad range of individuals and can engage in long-standing communications relatively undetected. The United Nations Children’s Fund reports that online child exploitation is on the rise and that children in low- and middle-income countries are most at risk due to systemic issues and a lack of appropriate support. NGOs which incorporate technology into their programmes must educate children about the potential dangers associated with online engagement and design and implement policies that cater to this unique risk.

BEST PRACTICES FOR NGOs

By implementing best practices and adhering to legal requirements, NGOs can safeguard children’s rights and protect their personal information while building trust and credibility with their communities.

Just Grace NPC is a proud champion of child rights in South Africa. We remain committed to upskilling our staff and facilitators, implementing best practice processes and collaborating with other key stakeholders to ensure that child safety is a priority. We will continue to work with other organisations to learn and grow about how to do this well and share our learnings as we do so.

Some best practice ideas for NGOs include:

  • Developing robust child protection and data protection policies that are in line with legal requirements and international best practices.
  • Regularly training staff and volunteers on child protection and data protection issues.
  • Establishing procedures for reporting and responding to child protection concerns.
  • Obtaining written consent for the use of children’s images or personal information in advertising and fundraising materials.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating policies and procedures to ensure they remain effective.

We also recommend that NGOs obtain legal advice and consult with partners in the industry who are experts on the topic to ensure that their organisation is well-positioned to keep our children safe.

For any organisation looking to learn more or commit to protecting our children, visit connectnetwork.org.za to learn more.

Breaking the Cycle: How a Trauma-Informed Approach is Empowering the Langa Community

Langa has a long history of cultural and societal trauma; deeply steeped in a cycle of poverty. The community is battling high unemployment rates, instances of substance abuse, and crime. The aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown further exacerbated the problems, and we are currently seeing a society living within the grips of trauma – normalising heinous crimes such as gender-based violence and rape. The trauma-informed approach to social work and counselling calls for a re-education of society, hoping that awareness might play a role in ending the cycle of abuse.

Using a Trauma-informed Approach to Promote Healing

The concept of a trauma-informed approach relies on four basic principles; that an organisation or programme –

  • realises the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery;
  • recognises the signs and symptoms of trauma in all involved within the system;
  • responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices;
  • seeks to resist re-traumatisation actively.

The trauma-informed approach is designed to reduce the risk of re-traumatisation and thus – hopefully – end the cycle of abuse by empowering people with knowledge and self-awareness. Although there is no prescribed policy for a trauma-informed approach, six general principles promote recovery and resilience for individuals impacted by trauma:

Safety – Staff and beneficiaries should feel physically and psychologically safe.

Trustworthiness and transparency – Organisations should build trust through transparency when working with beneficiaries, family members and staff.

Peer support – Support from other trauma survivors helps a survivor establish safety and hope, build trust, enhance collaboration and share experiences to promote recovery and healing.

Collaboration – Sharing power and decision-making within an organisation creates a more resilient organisation; likewise, purposefully levelling the power dynamics between beneficiaries and staff contributes to safety and healing. Beneficiaries take on greater responsibility for their recovery.

Voice and choice – Shared decision-making promotes goal-setting and self-advocacy. Staff become facilitators of recovery rather than controlling the process.

Cultural, historical and gender issues – It is essential to acknowledge the survivor’s racial, ethnic and cultural identity, recognising and addressing trauma stemming from a survivor’s lived experiences.

tHE TRAUMA-INFORMED APPROACH AND OUR PROGRAMMES

The Victim Empowerment Programme at Just Grace incorporates these principles within each case. Everyone is treated with professionalism and the utmost respect and care; our social workers focus on creating a safe environment where the counselee feels comfortable sharing. It’s essential that the person feels empowered throughout the healing process; hence, our social workers do not adopt an “instructional” approach (telling the victim what to do) but rather encourage the victim to play an active role in deciding the steps forward. This approach enables the victim to take responsibility for their healing while also becoming aware of the power they have in moving forward. With such an awareness, it is hoped that the victim might be able to break the cycle of abuse because they ultimately know that a better future is possible. To find freedom, it is essential to include the victim’s family in this process, as this will not only help extend the impact of healing but could have further implications within the community.

Each family facing and overcoming abusive obstacles becomes a role model to others. Such support is vital for meaningful impact within a community like Langa. This multidimensional approach forms a foundational value for much of the Just Grace work. Ultimately, the Just Grace social workers work hard to empower their clients through awareness and education, helping them (and their loved ones) make informed decisions that further their healing process. The more informed one is, the less likely one will be to return to an abusive or traumatic situation, thus, ending the cycle.

The trauma-informed approach lays the foundational core of Just Grace as an organisation, forming an essential part of the organisational culture and identity. If our work is going to truly make a meaningful impact, we need to be seen as a trustworthy partner with whom the local community wants to co-labour.

We offer a multidimensional intervention approach with local relevance to make the most significant impact. The programmes offered are a long-term commitment, sowing seeds into the community, which we trust will grow into a generational legacy.

” The most crucial aspect of therapy is the development of a good therapeutic alliance with a therapist who is trauma-informed… With this we create a place of safety where we offer information, make sure our clients are grounded, feel empowered, have a way to regulate emotions and feel cared for and respected.”

― Teresa Naseba Marsh

(Psychotherapist and Author)

Prioritising Mental Well-being in South Africa’s Youth: Just Grace’s Upliftment Programmes

Now, possibly more than ever, mental well-being is coming to the fore of global concern: our post-COVID-19 world is struggling to find its economic and social equilibrium. The uncertainty casts a shadow as people try to navigate their futures in such fear-filled times.

At-risk groups

Those especially at-risk are young people between the ages of 15 – 30. According to a recent survey conducted by UNICEF 73% of the South African youth surveyed felt they had struggled with mental well-being issues in the past year. 57% of those respondents cited “Succeeding in education, the need for work skills, training and employment opportunities” as their greatest concerns. The youth of Langa are no different, facing similar challenges as their global counterparts who also live in adverse environments. The need for social upliftment programmes underpinned by mental well-being is obvious.

mental well-being

Mental well-being is a state that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work effectively, and contribute to their community. It is an integral component of health and well-being that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships and shape our world. Mental well-being is a basic human right. And it is crucial to personal, community and socio-economic development.

In essence, mental well-being is one’s ability to live a full, satisfying life in which one copes with adversity. However, this may seem simpler in theory than application, depending on one’s environment and socio-economic situation.

THE LITERATURE

A new research paper shows that more than a quarter of South Africans suffer from depression, with higher levels in certain provinces. The Western Cape is featured in the top 3 problematic provinces. Major adversely contributing factors include negative childhood experiences, socio-economic status, geographic location, age and education level. The study explains how adverse childhood experiences (such as abuse, neglect or household violence) form a potential foundation for negative mental well-being and poor physical health. Add a sub-par education, and a child is now facing a rather bleak future, at greater risk of being caught in a cycle of poverty or abuse. According to this report, young adults in low-economic urban areas, such as Langa Township, are at a higher risk than their rural counterparts – and more susceptible to depression.

MENTAL WELL-BEING AND OUR PROGRAMMES

Each of the Just Grace programmes is structured so that youth are empowered with mental well-being tools and any barriers to mental well-being are addressed.

In addition, they are also equipped in a practical sense – giving them skills that will enable them to make a difference in their lives and help them to become more engaged within the community.

However, it’s not enough to impart skills (be they academic or professionally related); one must seek to engage in deep reflective, critical learning processes that challenge the prevalent mindset of the participants.

The Qhubeka! Youth Development Programme uses group activities that stimulate creative thinking skills and self-awareness; the discussions and debates of the book club validate participant opinions and build confidence; the holiday club is both fun and expands the participants’ view of the world and potential opportunities; job shadowing for grade 11 learners gives them insight into possible future careers and develops a sense of hope and optimism for the future. By presenting new opportunities and providing opportunities for lateral development, this programme not only sees an improvement in participants’ academic results, but also young people whose horizons have broadened, have developed critical thinking skills and perhaps most encouragingly, have developed the grit required to face life and overcome personal and social obstacles.

The Phakama! Youth Activation Programme works with young people between the ages of 17 – 35, and aims to re-engage at-risk youth within the community by offering both professional and personal development skills. While the professional development equips the participants with valuable skills such as writing a successful CV, understanding workplace etiquette and interview skills, it’s the personal development skills they gain which gives them the mental edge when looking for employment – these young people have hope and motivation.

The Empilweni! Thriving Communities Programme also offers both practical and metacognitive skills development opportunities through psychosocial support.

Participants gain practical skills to assist them in overcoming struggles, yet this programme also encourages participants to evaluate their mindsets: how their personal biases impact their worldview and hinder their growth. Key skills that improve mental well-being are addressed within a family-focused environment, meaning a sense of community is built and a legacy is left as whole families find healing.

Participants of such programmes gain practical skills that will help them improve their social and economic situations, and perhaps more importantly, gain the confidence and improved mental well-being that will enable them to make a difference within their community. Experience shows that the Just Grace programme alumni are more equipped that their peers at navigating life’s challenges as they have been given the tools to persevere, find support in their community and to encourage others to follow suit.

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FOR UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE REGARDING COVID-19:

VISIT: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/

CALL: 0800 029 999

 

Just Grace is a non-profit company with the overarching objective of poverty alleviation in Langa, Cape Town.

Please Note: Just Grace NPC
only operates in Langa, Cape Town.


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