In pursuit of my African Dream – Ask and you shall receive . . .

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and my followers must be wondering what in the world has happened to me. Well, let me tell you.

 I’ve had a few topics these last few weeks which I’ve wanted to blog about but just never got around to doing so. The last week and a bit I’ve been extremely busy trying to find sponsorship and a venue for the workshop I have to facilitate before the end of August which forms part of my Portfolio of Evidence (PoE) for the Facilitators Training Course I’m doing for Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA).

 In my search for a sponsor for my event, I agonised at how easy it is for government departments to have events costing millions of rands (tax payers money – our money) and yet, when a little fish like me is looking for funding, we get every excuse in the book thrown at us.

 Here I am, trying to make a difference in my community, running training courses to empower disabled women, and all I get are doors shut in my face all the time. How does one stay calm and motivated to continue?

I hate asking anybody for money – I hate asking for anything for that matter. Even as a child, I used to hate asking my parents for money (or anything else for that matter). I would wait until they gave out of their own. If they did not give, I did not ask. My dad always used to tell people I’m “low maintenance” meaning that I don’t ask for much. I speak when I’m spoken to – otherwise you don’t hear me. If I’m not given, I remain without – why?

 Is it maybe because I grew up in a time when my parents did not have much to give and I was told, “we will give you what you need, when you need it” – I did not always get what I wanted, but got what I needed (or at least what my parents felt I needed). As a Psychology major (1st year), I still need to understand how and why this has affected me in my adult life. Why do I still, as an adult, find it difficult to ask for anything whether this is physical help, monetary help or any other kind of help?

 Is it maybe because it was drummed into me from a very young age that if you don’t ask for anything, you don’t owe anybody anything because people never give without expecting anything in return?

 On the rare occasions when I do pluck up the courage to ask, I ask for the bare minimum and do my best not to waste any of what I’ve been given. I will spend wisely and will feel guilty if I have any “change” because it would feel as if I’ve taken advantage of your generosity.

An ex-Manager of mine, on hearing that I was not able to find a sponsor for my event, generously offered to deposit some money into my account for my event. This was totally unexpected – not asked for but most definitely appreciated beyond words, yet, I still feel guilty. Why? This same person has also suggested that instead of trying to find a Corporate sponsor, to make use of my existing network of people – to start a list and ask everyone to contribute whatever they can afford to give towards my cause. I have very sheepishly written letters to a few prominent people I know and sent the letters off today, but I feel guilty for asking – why?

Whatever money I receive will be spent 100% on the workshop I am facilitating. Should there be any money left afterwards, I will separate this from my own money and keep it towards the next workshop I need to facilitate – so what do I have to feel guilty about?

Parents – do you realise what damage your words can do on the minds of innocent young children in your care? Please select your words carefully because once uttered, you have no idea how what you have said (or how you have said it) will affect your children later in life when they become adults.

In pursuit of my African Dream – my safety is @ risk!

“Convict freed early, now held for rape” by Zaa Nicholson (Cape Times, July 13, 2012)

According to this article today –

  • 71 of the 40,365 offenders released from prison have been re-arrested on charges of rape, attempted murder, robbery, assault, kidnapping, possession of stolen goods and housebreaking.
  • Correctional Services spokesperson Simphiwe Xako was quoted saying “as much as the Constitution provides for the department to be the custodian of offenders, they have to be released once they have been rehabilitated. We play  our role in the rehabilitation of offenders but there are various dynamics with human beings so some offenders do commit crimes again.”

As I sit and ponder about life and what’s going on in our beautiful country I have to ask: does Correctional Services actually have a long-term rehabilitation plan for offenders? If yes, what exactly is the plan and why is it not working? If there is a plan and it is not working, what is being done about it?

If there is no long-term rehabilitation plan in place for offenders, why not? Isn’t it time a plan is put in place? Surely you cannot remove an offender from society for however long the prison term is and expect him/her to just walk back into society as if he/she never left?

The offender has to learn to socialise and reintegrate with family and society as a whole again just as much as his/her family and society has to learn to accept this person back as part of the family or society. The offender would need help in finding suitable employment which is extremely difficult for those who have a good education and no criminal record – how much more difficult is it not for someone who has a criminal record?

Budget cuts – the latest buzz word these days on everyone’s lips. Yes, those in power always think they know best but do they realise that cutting budgets means that essential services are not provided? Surely skills development for an offender is just as important as it is for those who don’t offend and who don’t have a criminal record? We have people with undergraduate and even post graduate degrees working as waiters in eating establishments, yet we expect those with criminal records to just walk out of prison and straight back into life as if nothing happened since they left.

Aaah, but you say “there is Nicro and FAMSA (and others)”. Yes, they are doing the best they can to help, but with limited funding, there is only so much they can do.

According to our wonderful Constitution, South Africa belongs to all who live in it which might be true, but how can we feel safe and protected when offenders are just “let loose” on society with no thought (or very little thought) for the innocent ones living in the very same country.

I’m just saying . . .

 

Don’t forget to check out the website: http://www.womendemanddignity.co.za. This website was updated today. Don’t forget to tell your friends about the website as well.

In pursuit of my African Dream – please tell me why?

Today my post is going to be based on an article I read in one of our morning newspapers: The Cape Times, Thursday July 5, 2012 (page 9). The headline of this particular article was:  “A raped child is devastated and suffers unimaginable mental torment”: by Carmel Rickard

A few points in this article struck a cord or two in me . . .

I quote: The two high court judges saw fit to scrap the life sentence imposed on the attacker and reduced the punishment to 22 years on the grounds that . . .

  • The 30 year old rapist was a “first offender”
  • The 7 year old girl who “suffered serious mental anxiety” was not “physically harmed” other than the signs of “forced vaginal penetration” noted by a doctor”.

Mmmm  . . .”suffered serious mental anxiety” and was “not physically injured” other than the signs of “forced vaginal penetration” noted by a doctor. What could “serious mental anxiety” mean for a 7 year old?  The 7 year old could possibly:

 

  • Behave out of character? Not want to eat or sleep? Not speak to anybody (be withdrawn most of the time), at times be aggressive?
  • Walk about restlessly or aimlessly, constantly looking over her shoulder as if waiting for someone to come?
  • Be unable to sleep – refusing to answer when asked what’s the matter?
  • Fearful of all strangers (especially men)?
  • Wetting the bed and possibly even soiling herself – not wanting to be left alone (not even to go to the bathroom)?
  • Might insist that all doors and windows be kept closed at all times?
  • Be intensely distressed and deeply frightened?
  • Experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Be “hyper vigilant”, constantly monitoring her environment because of feeling afraid and unsafe?
  • Experience deep emotional pain manifested by “uncontrollable crying”?
  • Feel overwhelmed by fears and anxiety – could suffer from “severe insomnia and nightmares”?

I don’t know about you, but I cannot even begin to imagine what it must feel like to live like this as an adult, let alone as a 7 year old child. Just reading this article has made my stomach churn. Your childhood is supposed to be the best time of your life. You are supposed to be happy and carefree. Children should be able to trust ALL adults they come into contact with, no matter where they are.

I have a 4 year old niece and a 7 year old nephew.  I often sit and watch them while they are playing and try to imagine how I would react if anyone dared to violate either one of them in any way. I will probably have to be locked away in a mental institution for the rest of my life.

I must say that having a physical disability makes me feel as vulnerable as a child because it does not take much force to make me lose my balance which leaves me vulnerable to a whole myriad of possible violations. I could so easily be raped, sodomised, or violated in any other way and I would have very little chance of coming away unscathed physically. All this being said, I avoid going anywhere I’ve never been to before, I avoid clubs and any other “social” places, I avoid going out at night if at all possible and on the rare occasions that I do, I make sure I get home as early as I can. I don’t go to church at night anymore and I don’t even walk around my own neighbourhood for fear of being identified as a “soft target” by some unscrupulous opportunist out there.

I am “hyper vigilant” even when driving my own car. I am suspicious of anyone coming towards me, no matter where I am. Even when at home, doors and security gates are always closed and locked. I keep the curtains shut so nobody can monitor my movements inside the house. My house is so well burglar guarded that the only way in would be through the roof and through the trap-door. When I get up during the night to go to the bathroom I always glance up to make sure the trap-door is still shut and that there is no evidence of anyone trying to get into the house.

This is what it is like for me – a “nearly 50 year old “ adult with a disability, so what must it be like for a 7 year old child? Then again, 7 years of age is not the youngest to be targeted. Here in sunnySouth Africa, even babies of a few months are raped and sodomised by adult men. Babies, who have even less control over their bodies and environments.

My mind boggles at how an adult male can attach himself to a baby a few months old and yet it has happened – not once or twice but too often to mention.

Please tell me why? What happens inside the brain to make any male capable of something like this . . .  I cannot even find a word strong enough in my vocabulary to describe this act/deed.

What has gone wrong with the human race? Even dogs and animals in the wild nurture and protect their own. Have you watched a lioness with her cubs? The lion who provides for his family and protects them at all costs?

 When will this scourge of violence against women and children in our country end? Please tell me when?

Some of the perpetrators of violence will tell you they need help but cannot specify exactly what it is they need you to do in order to help them. I know poverty, hunger, overcrowded homes (in some cases no homes) have a part to play in all this but violence against women and children will not make this go away. After raping a woman or child you will still be hungry, homeless, unemployed etc. So what is the point?

Why do this at all?

 Please tell me why?

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