In pursuit of my African Dream – I’m dreaming of Psychology . . .

 

 

 

This past week and until 7 November my life has been and will be dominated by Psychology theories and learning skills for Law students.

 

As I prepare for and write exams, every waking moment has been and will be dominated by theories of Freud, Maslow, Bandura, Skinner, Watson and others. There are basic assumptions, personality structures, development, motivation and psychological adjustments which I need to know (and must know) for Psychology. From the legal side there is a combination of study skills, numeric, communication, research and reading skills which are important for those in the legal field.

 

The culmination of all this learning comes to a head when I have to sit for those final exams for the year which will tell me whether I qualify to move on to my second year of study or not.

 

Writing exams (whether mid term or final) has always been a huge challenge for me. It’s not that I don’t know how to study and therefore don’t know the work. I know the material (content) – I’m just never sure exactly what the examiner is asking and therefore never know whether I’ve answered the questions correctly and/or adequately to warrant a successful outcome. I fret and stress, don’t sleep or eat properly and all for a silly piece of paper to prove that I know what I know (or don’t).

 

Then again, I would much rather write a two or three hour paper than to stand in front of someone to do an oral presentation. I have hated oral presentations since junior school days – all those eyes fixed on your every move and every word just waiting for you to mess up. I think an oral exam would be a lot worse, having one person glare at you the entire time, probing and questioning you. No, I’d much prefer the written examination though I sometimes have trouble verbalising and expressing my thoughts and feelings – and knowledge.

 

Knowledge is power! It is the kind of power I long to have. Expert knowledge, to be a specialist in a particular field – to be able to offer a comment or an opinion because you have earned the right to – now that is the power I seek. To be able to use the knowledge wisely to make a difference in the community and ultimately in the world. To change the world one person at a time.

 

I once had a manager at work who lived by the principle of “each one, teach one” – reaching the world one person at a time. I think of this person often – she has become my invisible mentor who now lives very far away. She always supported my desire for knowledge and my “need to know”. Actually, even though she is now living overseas, she still supports and encourages me via e-mail and the poems she writes and shares with me. Technology enables us to keep in touch in this way.

 

Is it not wonderful to have certain special people in your life who are there to mentor and support you? The world is a much better place when you know you have “someone in your corner” who loves and supports you and what you do. Over the past few years, I have tried to leave some (people) and cleave to others. To leave those who always only take from you, zapping all your strength and energy and I have chosen to cleave to those who love, support and enrich my life. I’m glad they came along and loved me enough to stay.

 

Those who have left or whom I’ve chosen to leave – I don’t regret the time we’ve spent together because you still formed part of shaping me to being the person I am today. I’m also glad you came along but sorry you could not stay.

 

Life is a strange mixture of good and bad and it takes a combination of the good, the bad and the ugly to turn us into beautiful swans.

 

In the words of the songwriter Carole King:

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue

An everlasting vision of the ever changing view.

A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold

A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.

In pursuit of my African Dream – I am grateful . . .

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I’ve recently been inspired by another blogger to post more regularly (http://food.rumtumtiggs.co.za/dinner-divas) so I will endeavour to post at least once a week from now on.

Our country has recently come through the “strike” season starting with the Public Servants’ strike, followed by various other industries striking including truckers and miners. This brought to mind the “sense of entitlement” which some of our citizens have, and others, like me a “sense of gratitude” for what we have – grateful that we at least have a job which enables us to put food on the table. As the strike season drew to a close some journalists and/or opposition political parties raised the fact that some public servants who are being/have been rewarded for mediocre performance. Labour courts are taking strain under huge case-loads – there are only 10 labour court judges dealing with up to 15,000 cases per year. 200,000 cases referred to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) every year. There are also a limited number of court rooms to hear these cases. Police officials are being shot on a daily basis.

There is a need for shared sacrifice – we need to be grateful for what we have right now. I know it’s not easy to be grateful for what you have when you are unemployed and don’t know where your next meal is going to come from and how you are going to be able to pay your rent at the end of the month.

So what is gratitude really?

Gratitude (simple abundance) unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. Gratitude is making the best of what we have right now (thanks to my friend Google for this definition).

Oprah encouraged us to start a Gratitude Journal. She encouraged us to go to our journal (and write) five minutes a day. By acknowledging what you are grateful for in your journal, you will become a deliberate attractor of positive thoughts, feelings and actions. Appreciation, gratitude and love make it very difficult to be negative about your life and circumstances. We should get into the habit of appreciating things (http://www.oprah.com/spirit/The-Power-of-Gratitude).

A Gratitude Journal is a place to stay focused on what really matters (family, friends, loved ones) and promotes positive thinking. Focus on gratitude and you can shift in your way of thinking to the positive. Obstacles can be seen as opportunities. Opportunities to build character or to reaffirm how much you really want XYZ (your dream job, your dream holiday etc).

For example: If you are currently unemployed, you now have the time to search for that perfect job. Looking for work can take up a lot of your time – time which you will not have while you are working. If you have not updated your CV for a while, you now have the time to do so. Maybe you need to update your skills by enrolling for a course at a college or technicon. Now is the time to do it.

Then again, you may be in the same position I am at the moment. I am employed but under-utilised and not appreciated. I also do not earn what I think I am worth, but I am grateful that I have a job. Grateful that I am able to receive a cheque at the end of the month which enables me to put food on the table and pay the rent. Yes, it may be possible to earn more somewhere else, where I am valued and appreciated for my skills and for what I can offer the workplace, but this is where I need to be right now. I may not know the reason why and may not understand why, but this is where I need to be right now. I have made peace with that fact and am content to work on improving my skills and qualifications in the meantime while on this journey to find my place in the world.

I am grateful for non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) like Rape Crisis, Saartjie Baartman etc who are doing their best to help the abused in spite of a lack of monetary resources.

I am grateful for my family and friends and the support structure I have and can call on when I need to.

Coming back to the Gratitude Journal – each day, write down five things you are grateful for that day. Write down what matters to YOU and what YOU are grateful for. There are only two rules:

1)      Everything you write must be positive

2)      You can only list something you are grateful for once – no repeating entries

By keeping a Gratitude Journal you begin to focus on what you have and not on what you don’t have.

Life is all about choices. The choices we make today, determine our future.

What will you write in your Gratitude Journal? What are you grateful for?

In pursuit of my African Dream – How to report Sexual Assault

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An offence is identified (rape, sexual assault, etc)

  1. The offence is reported to the Police
  2. The matter goes to Court
  3. The offender is convicted
  4. The name of the offender is placed on the National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO)

 What is the reporting process?

¨       The Police have a duty to protect all people of our country whether able-bodied or disabled

¨       Therefore, children and people with all forms of disability (including mental disability) should feel safe to report any form of sexual offence to the Police and always alert an adult they trust if someone is touching them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable

¨       Anyone who knows about such behaviour against a child or person with disability must report the incident to the Police.

¨       If they do not report it, they could get a fine or go to jail.

Reporting an offence to the Police:

  1. Go to the Police – go to your nearest Police station. You could ask a friend or family member to go with you.
  2. Make a statement (Affidavit) – the Police will take down everything you tell them in the form of a statement. You are allowed to make changes to the statement.
  3. Get a Case Number – do not forget to get a Case Number from the Police Officer. This number      will be used to keep you informed of what’s happening regarding your case.
  4. Medical examination – when reporting to the Police, he/she may ask for a medical person to carry out an examination. The result of the medical examination will be included in your case file.
  5. Contact details – don’t forget to give the Police Officer all your contact details: address and telephone numbers. Even when you move, inform the Police Officer so that he/she can keep you informed regarding your case.

What will the Police do after a complaint is lodged?

¨       An Investigating Officer will be assigned to the case. The Investigating Officer will let you know:

–          When the suspect is arrested

–          If bail has been granted

–          Whether you need to attend an identification parade to identify the attacker in a line-up

–          The date of the trial

–          When you will have to give evidence

–          The outcome of the case

¨       Don’t be afraid to ask the Police Officer for his/her telephone number to check on the progress of the case.

¨       After the investigation (which is done free of charge), the Investigating Officer will hand the file to the State Attorney (Lawyer). This service is FREE!!!!

¨       The State Attorney (Lawyer) decides on whether the matter should go to Court or not.

 Child-friendly Sexual Offences Court:

¨       Special child-friendly Courts have been set up around the country with safety and comfort at the heart of justice.

¨       The Sexual Offences courts are built to strengthen and support children and survivors of sexual offences

¨       To make survivors feel safe, toys are provided, as well as a TV (one-way mirror) to get testimony in a manner that makes the child feel comfortable.

¨       In these Courts, there is a waiting area, so that the survivor of a sexual offence does not have to see the person accused of the crime.

¨       These courts also make it easier for survivors to lay a charge through the one-stop Thuthuzela Care Centres which may be found at a hospital.

What happens after a sexual offender is found guilty in Court?

¨       A   Court finding a person guilty of a sexual offence against a child or mentally disabled person, must put the details of the offender on the National Register for Sexual Offenders.

¨       The effects of the finding must be explained to the offender.

¨       The Registrar of the Court must, where possible, inform the employer of the person found guilty of a sexual offence about the finding, and ensure that the offender’s name is put on the National register.

¨       This responsibility also falls on the shoulders of the Clerk of the Court who has to complete an electronic NRSO notification that goes to the Office of the National Registrar for Sex Offenders.

Who has access to the register?

¨       The register IS NOT open to the general public and is kept confidential.

¨       Anyone found guilty of a sexual offence against children and mentally disabled people is put on the Register.

¨       Any employer in the public or private sector working with children or mentally disabled persons can apply for a certificate from the Registrar, these include:

–          Licensing authorities, courts, any organisation in which children are members, and an employee (whose name is on the register) can apply to see the register

¨       It can be accessed by an individual applying for a clearance certificate in terms of his/her own case.

The National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) aims to stop incidents against children and mentally challenged people

¨       The NRSO was established by an Act of Parliament in 2007

¨       It is a record of names of those found guilty of sexual offences against children and mentally disabled people

¨       The Register gives employers in the public and private sectors such as schools, crèches and hospitals the right to check that the persons being hired is fit to work with children or mentally disabled people

¨       Being found guilty of any crime against a child or mentally disabled person will result in one’s name being put on the National Register

¨       The aim of the Register is to ensure that offenders do not work with children or mentally disabled people

¨       Also, offenders are not allowed to apply for foster care or adoption, or to work with children

¨       Employers can find out whether the people they put in charge of their children have not been found guilty of Sexual Offences in terms of the law

What is Sexual Assault?

¨       A Sexual Assault is when someone touches another person without their permission

¨       A sexual act involves penetration or an act of sexual violation. Having sex without permission is known as rape.

¨       Assault involves:

–          touching, rubbing or poking at someone’s private parts

–          showing your private parts to a child or mentally disabled person

–          showing children and mentally disabled people pornographic material

–          sexual exploitation and sexual grooming of children

Our country’s laws protect children and mentally disabled people from such behaviour.

¨       All sexual offences against a child and people who are mentally disabled are placed in the National Register for Sex Offenders.

Don’t forget to visit: http://www.womendemanddignity.co.za

Facebook Group: Women Demand Dignity

In pursuit of my African Dream – I strive for significance!

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It’s time to move beyond a search for success, it’s time to strive for significance

–                      Mamphela Ramphele

 

Why do we turn criminals into celebrities? An opinion piece written by Mosibudi Mangena (Cape Times, Wed 10 October 2012, pg 9) – hits the nail right on the head when he points out that in order to be a “star” in South Africa, for the media to follow you everywhere you go and have your pictures in the newspaper and your face and voice to get into every household in the country through television, you should try your hand at corruption, fraud, theft of public money, money laundering and associated pursuits.

We see this happening in our country daily. Streets are blocked off because of protests or demonstrations by various sectors of our communities. Nothing is said about patients in hospitals suffering because there is no money to buy much needed equipment and life-saving medication. Children are without text books, millions of people are unemployed, I could go on. The corruption and fraud at the heart of all these ills just does not matter.

Where has the shame gone, the writer of this article asks? I agree when the writer says “shame makes us human.” Not too long ago it used to be part of our social interaction and behaviour. Like the writer of this article, I remember the time when none of us wanted to shame ourselves, our families and our communities. We always worried about “what would people say?”  Conscience and shame kept most of us in line more than the criminal justice system. We worried more about what our friends, family and society as a whole would say rather than worry about what the police would say.

We feared being arrested and going to jail. We feared the stigma of being branded a criminal or a thief. We did everything possible to stay out of jail or at least not to be caught if we did anything illegal. Our society has changed but unfortunately not for the better. What are we teaching our children? That being a criminal is cool? That being involved in criminal activities will elevate your status in society? Why should our children even bother to go to school when it is more profitable and cool to commit crime? The message in South Africa at the moment is that crime pays.

Coming back to my quote at the beginning of this blog, how do I move beyond a search for success and strive for significance?

I’ve been gainfully employed for just on 30 years now. Besides being unemployed for short periods of time during these 30 years, my average time at any company averaged at around 6 years before moving on to the next job (in my current position for the last 10 years).

Over the last 30 years I’ve completed my Matric through correspondence college, registered at Unisa for a degree and various short courses. I was unable to complete my degree 12 years ago so last year I re-registered with Unisa for another degree to replace the one I could not finish. At work, I’ve taken advantage of completing every short course available that would help me do better at work and advance my career and yet, I have received no recognition, no accolades, no “well done” for my efforts no matter how hard I worked. I’ve been overlooked so many times for higher level positions purely because I don’t have a degree (something I’m working hard to fix). In spite of all this and doing voluntary work, I’ve never been interviewed by the media for my life story, I’ve never been followed by the paparazzi – I’ve never had a rose (or any other flower) named after me. Without a degree, my 30 years working experience means absolutely nothing and is not recognised or acknowledged.

I’ve never been arrested (not even for political unrest), never been to jail, never stolen money (not even from my parents) so going into politics is not going to benefit me either.

The question therefore is: How do I become a celebrity, an international best seller? How do I get people hanging onto my every word watching my every move? How do I move beyond my search for success and strive for significance?

No, I don’t want to be a celebrity; I don’t want to be followed by the media and have my face and voice in every household through radio or TV coverage. What do I want?

I want the corruption, fraud and all related illegal activities to stop. I want “jobs for pals (and family)” to stop. I want recognition for my skills and tenacity, for trying to improve my skills and qualifications. I want to be called on for my “expert opinion” on subject matter learnt over the last 30 years of work. I want to be SEEN. At the moment I’m invisible. I need to move from being invisible to being visible. All my learning and working has not done anything for me.

I’m searching for my significance – how do I find my significance? Where do I find my significance? Will I recognise it when I see it? Will it come to me naked or will it have clothes on?

Significance – I’ve been searching for you and have yet to find you. Can you see me? Can you find me? Please don’t stop looking for me because I will not stop looking for you.