What Our Partners Say: PACSA

PACSA is the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action | www.pacsa.org.za

Written by Skhumbuzo Mpisane (PACSA Process Facilitator)

What happened?
PACSA was running a small business program for our social club members who are interested in starting their own small businesses. These were a group of young people who were not or couldn’t afford to study further and did not have the skills to apply for work. However, some of these young people were just simply not interested in studying further or seeking employment but believed that freedom will come from them starting their own small businesses.
According to the program goals, we did not have enough people to train and we started connecting with other like-minded organizations for recruitment purposes and Dlalanathi was one of those organizations we connected with.
We shared that we had this opportunity for youth and if they, Dlalanathi, had young people who might be interested they should share the opportunity with them, which Dumisa (Dlalanathi Youth Manager) did.
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How was the partnership valuable?
The partnership was valuable not only in the sense that we got young people from Dlalanathi to attend our program but they were remarkable young people. They were familiar with our practice and they understood our vision of the program, so much so that they were able to explain it to other young people we had in the program. Up to now, we are still in touch with them and we are still assisting in their small businesses.
What did you (and we) learn?
Our processes may be the difference but our goals are similar (we aim to empower each other) in this case young people. Through that common understanding, we are able to share resources and information that will enhance our community partner’s experiences.

Dlalanathi follow up story…

One of these ‘remarkable young people’ to whom PACSA refers is a young man from Sweetwaters. In feedback to Dlalanathi youth workers, he said he joined the youth group (mentored by Dlalanathi) because he was sitting at home, not doing anything. Initially, he didn’t have a goal, or know what he wanted in life. However, things started to change when Dlalanathi introduced the group to PACSA to embark on the small business training, and this young man responded with enthusiasm and passion to all he was being taught. He has stuck with it and his business is starting to pick up and he is now he is a mentor to other young people who are starting businesses.
He said: “Had I not utilised this platform, I don’t know where I would be. I appreciate the fact that I have had focus, I know where I am going and how I am going to get there.”

In the Field Ibhayi Lengane

ib1Ibhayi Lengane: The Child’s Blanket

“When someone loves you, it’s like having a blanket all around your heart.” Helen Fielding (author)
At dlalanathi, when we develop a process that will promote the psychological and social care of individuals and families, we like to have an image on which to frame that process. When you think about a blanket what comes to mind?
A blanket is many things to different people;
  • It is used for Traditional African attire
  • It’s how we warm ourselves on a winter’s evening sitting in front of the fire
  • We sleep with them
  • They are given as a present for a new-born baby
  • Blankets are essential
  • Feel cosy
  • Used for Umembeso (the giving of blankets in the stages of a Zulu wedding)
  • It communicates comfort
  • And many of us can remember carrying or babies blanket around with us though the early years of our childhood
………..and there are as many adjectives to describe a blanket as there are actual uses!
ib2One of our newest and most exciting processes is the First 1000 Days process. This focuses on mother, child and family from pregnancy right through to when the child is 2 years of age. The themes running through this process are “Love, Play and Talk”. What better image to portray the essence of these foundational relationship building concepts than a blanket!
In the Ibhayi Lengane home visiting programme, the home visitor meets a number of times with mom at different stages of pregnancy up until the baby is 2 and in some of these meetings her family is invited to participate. The home visitor says “as you are your unborn baby’s blanket of support, I am your blanket of support”. This introductory message is communicated in word and practice as home visitor begins this journey of support with mom. In the first visit with the whole family, the home visitor brings along a blanket to give them in preparation for the birth of the baby. They are invited to sew something on to the blanket as decoration. Many have chosen to write the name of the imminent arrival. Here is a brief but powerful story on the impact of the blanket on one family.
Told by a homevisitor “In the family session the pregnant mom decided that she should write ‘Xolisile’ meaning I am sorry, for the baby’s name on the blanket as this was an unplanned pregnancy, being born into an already impoverished family. After discussion with the family they asked that instead, they call the baby ‘Siphosethu’ – meaning ‘Our Gift’. Acceptance, healing and love came from this simple and yet profound interaction, inspired by the baby’s blanket.
What do you think of when you hear the word blanket? What does a blanket mean to you right now at your stage of life? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories about what the word blanket conjures up for you!
Please see our website for more on Ibhayi Lengane, under the ‘Our Programmes’ tab, or contact Robyn Hemmens at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more info.

Professional Practice: World Social Work Day

Each year in March the International Federation of Social Workers promotes ‘World Social Work Day’.
“It is the key day in the year that social workers worldwide stand together to celebrate the achievements of the profession and take the theme message into their communities, workplaces and to their governments to raise awareness of the social work contributions and need for further action.” (from the Federation website www.ifsw.org)
The theme message for this year is ‘Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability’, this is the second and final year of the theme set by the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.
In 2016 and 2017 dlalanathi had the pleasure of facilitating get-togethers for Social Workers and Social Service Practitioners to celebrate Social Work and Community Development across our region. We took the opportunity to have fun, engage in a creative activity and network as Social Workers and Practitioners in the field of Community Development. Each year we have emphasised the importance of self-care and having fun in order to sustain and care for yourself. A highlight of the time has always been a live interview with practitioners in the field, to hear their views, experiences and stories.
In 2016 the response was so positive and the feedback on the need for ongoing creative learning so strong, that we decide to continue offering get-togethers for Social Service Practitioners in the shape of Professional Practice workshops. These now take place every two months at the dlalanathi offices. The next one coming up will be on the 22 March from 9 – 11am and will focus on how to work with resistance in children and young people. If you are in the area and are interested in participating do be in touch with Linda at 033 345 3729.
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Pictured here are participants working on their ‘Me Badge’ at last year’s event.
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Celebrate a social worker or social service practitioner in your life this March!!

Introducing the Team: Dumisa Zondi

nathi 10Introducing the Team is a monthly post in which we will introduce one member of the Dlalanathi team. Every member of our team is highly skilled with lots of incredible stories to tell, so don’t miss these!
Name: Dumisa Zondi
Job title: Youth Team Manager
What is a ‘typical’ day in your working life? I am responsible for the overall management of the youth team, balancing the administration tasks and community work that needs to be done. I ensure that our team has plans and clarity about what to do on a daily basis.
I ensure the environment is conducive to our work, for example by communicating and building relationship with Indunas (traditional leaders) in the community who are gatekeepers in the community for our work. I work with the Pillars of the Youth Process, namely the Youth Network, and provide support to them. I also keep my eye on the ground in terms of other NGOs and what they’re doing in the youth sector. I also work with local government through structures such as War Rooms to ensure we are engaging with issues that impact youth.
Overall, I give support to the team and to local structures.
I also deal with individual cases where youth are in need of referral, support and follow up for a wide variety of issues.
What has been a memorable moment in your work in the past month? Leading the two evaluation camps (evaluation of the 2017 youth process) with “out of school youth” this past month. These camps gave us a full picture of how youth have received our inputs; many say they have been discovering who they are and they have been able to take action in their own lives. Many told powerful stories of impact. I loved that they could voice their appreciation of themselves, to themselves. The feedback on where they were compared to where they are right now was encouraging.
For example, hearing a young person say that they did not know what they wanted to do in life, only that that they wanted to be successful, but they didn’t have a plan. Then, attending trainings gave them the focus and now they have a career goal. Through the trainings and process they were able to decide what they wanted to do, it has helped them to take a step and knock at the door, and they now have access, whereas before they didn’t even think it was a possibility.
They have built social connections with others, initially they thought about themselves only, but began to see the importance of connecting with others, including their families and friends. This makes it really feel like our process is completely worthwhile.
We may not feel like we are where we want to be in terms of the whole of society, but we are being a light where we are.
What is one challenge you have had to contend with in this role? We really want to provide a caring environment, but at times we also have to deal with issues of conflict. We have to try to get that balance between being caring and also being firm with young people when they are negatively impacting themselves or others in the process. For example, if somebody becomes overly arrogant and this is starting to affect the rest of the group and brings in conflict in the rest of the group. You want to take a neutral position but you also want to be firm about what is it that needs to be brought into this space so that there is a workable solution.
One comes with such passion to see things change and to transform in a positive way, but it’s not a once-off thing. It has to take certain processes, it’s going to take you to become firm and honest with your own beliefs. And also, to think about how to deal with issues in a way that is developmental rather than top down discipline that will possibly disengage people in the process.
Please share a story from the field… I’ll share just one, there are many!
There is one young guy, very shy, from Sweetwaters community who gave a reflection at the camp. In his feedback he said he joined the group because he was at home and he was not doing anything. He liked attending camps because that was the time when he had a lot of fun with other people. Initially, he didn’t know what his goal was, or what he wanted in life. But when Dlalanathi introduced the group to PACSA* to do the business training, that’s where he became impassioned. He has stuck with it and his business is starting to pick up. But more than that, he’s stuck to it to the point that now he is a mentor to other young people who are starting businesses. He said: “Had I not utilised this platform, I don’t know where I would be. I appreciate the fact that I have had focus, I know where I am going and how I am going to get there.”
The critical part of our work is that people have dreams, but they’re stuck. How do they unlock them? Through the support that we give them and other opportunities they are given. Business skills are not our area of expertise but we know who to refer young people to for those skills. So, in this story, this young man is a very resourceful person and a support for other young people who would like to start businesses.
What motivated you to go into community work/youth work? When I was at school, I was a very naughty guy. I am now a polished diamond but I used to be a very rough one! There are key people in my school life that gave me mentorship and supported me when they realised I have potential but was just going in the wrong direction. I had the chance to become a class rep, I began to take responsibility from then on. It shifted the way that I was thinking about things and gave me a reason to start supporting other people. I started reflecting on my own life and thought “If I can change, and I was supported to change then I can also support other people towards change.” This became my passion in life. I love working with people, even with all its challenges.
Dumisa on CampAnd what keeps you going? If I look at the context of our country, and of our community, I always say the problems are big, or may look big, but the solutions are simple. And that is what keeps me going.
In youth development you don’t have to do a whole big task or programme. What you do is inspire confidence in young people, you stand aside and that is enough to help them do something because the confidence brings energy, the energy transforms into actions that they take, and those actions you support, acknowledge and celebrate with them. And in youth development, that is what we need to do so that people begin to realise their own potential, and become light to others in their own communities.
And that is always what we have done in this youth project. We don’t tell people what to do, but it happens like it’s a miracle!
What three words describe you when you’re not at work? Fun, analytical, relaxed!
*PACSA is Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action. Find more info on www.pacsa.org.za