A response to my last blog from an ex Manager who now lives overseas

Maldivian Island(free_1051670)
Hi Natalie
I hope this mail finds you well on Human Rights Day. In my heart of hearts I hope that this long weekend in SA will not end up in human rights (abuse) day(s).

I read your blog post for this week and I somehow feel that I want to help you find some kind of process or peace in this situation you feel stifled by.

We have come a long way and even before you joined us in Comms (at that time) I used to admire (and still do) the patience, dedication and energy to bring to your job even under the worst management and when people are just absolutely rude and disrespectful. You survived when so many others gave up or was pushed aside. The list of names is endless in your organisation when I think about it.

So many moved on and passed away and yet you are there giving it your best shot and offering not only your best but the energy to search and find the best out there.

And so… as we sometimes say this my bit for the baking…

1. Continue to believe in yourself — you are a strong woman and you will succeed in finding that change you so much desire.
2. Grow your skills and experience every day — this is something you already do with so much energy and enthusiasm (Unisa, sign language, blogging, church life etc)
3. Forget the NO-SAYERS — they will cry the day you pull the door shut behind you…. then their institutions will suffer and they will not have someone like you to pick up their pieces ALL THE TIME. It also says more about them and nothing about you, because they are not brave enough to give you a chance!
4. Collect your salary and give your 8-hours…. keep your impeccable record and only do what is necessary to keep the bonus coming in… we can all do with the little extra!
5. It is the other 16 hours that you buy with the albeit ‘un-stimulating’ 8 hours… this it the time where you can be free to do as you please and this is where you will make the connections to take you to a better place.
6.Nothing stops you from starting something new… (a) Register your company (use your mother’s name if you have to … how you trade is not so important as to what you trade (it is easy and cheap to do apparently) (b) advertise your services and test the waters (c) continue to build your contact base.
7. Continue to volunteer, but only focus on the activities with real buy-in and some returns…
8. Focus on your emotional and spiritual growth — focus on your health (since you have to have some surgery done… take the time out and do it! Do not delay…. the weather will do what it wants to do anyway!)
9. Give yourself a break! This is a very difficult one and something I think we all struggle with….
10. Know that there are many people out there who loves you! WE care and we know that to have you in our lives is a wonderful blessing… the strangers at work will never give us their all and working with someone a long time does not mean that they have our best intentions at heart or that they are keen for us to outgrow them…. Work on your ‘escape plan’ and the best is to think about saving as much as you can every month so that you can build up a buffer for 1 – year kind of like a gap year and this might include being 100% debt free etc…. then you work back from there….

So this is what i have to offer…. Another idea I just thought about… you and your sister can complement each other when it comes to her catering business and your organising skills…. think about that too…

Love you lots
Hugs and greetings to all.

I hope you will have a blessed weekend

My African Dream – The price of freedom . . .

On Freedom day this year (27 April 2012) the President of our country announced that 14,651 sentenced offenders would be released conditionally or unconditionally and approximately 20,855 probationers and parolees would be freed. The final 3,800 prisoners in theWestern   Capewere released today.

Since the release of the first batch of prisoners, 47 prisoners (nationally) have already re-offended and are back behind bars for violating the conditions of their remission of sentences.

One woman admitted that she deliberately re-offended so she could go back to prison because she had no support system at home and without a job and a home to go to, she felt she would be better off if she went back to prison.

What a shame – why did Correctional Services not prepare these prisoners for release? Why did they not do home visits to ensure that the home environments they were sending these prisoners to would be enable them to reintegrate into society and family life with the minimum amount of stress? Did Correctional Services even bother to ask the prisoners if their support structures at home were adequate and would it enable them to reintegrate into family life?

Did our President stop for one moment to think about the consequences of his actions? Did our President expect the Correctional Services officials to blindly execute his instruction or did he expect them to say “hold on, Mr President. Releasing these prisoners is not that simple”.

With the high unemployment rate in our country, was it wise to release all these prisoners into a society and community which cannot even provide jobs for those without criminal records and matriculants?

What has happened to our planning skills? Don’t we know how to plan anymore? Infrastructure is falling apart because regular maintenance has not been factored into our planning and budgeting. Health care and our Education system has fallen apart because no Succession Plan was put in place when our knowledgeable and senior skilled people were retrenched or put into “early retirement”. 

For the last number of years, people have chosen to work in silos, so when somebody is off work for whatever reason, there is nobody to step in and fill the gap until that person returns. Everyone wants to be an “expert” and a Manager – nobody wants to get their hands dirty anymore. Even our matriculants have said on national television, “I did not get my Matric certificate to clean toilets”. In some overseas countries cleaning toilets and sweeping the streets are the highest paying jobs you can find. InSouth Africa, however, it is the complete opposite.

Some people have left the country out of sheer frustration of having the knowledge and skills and not receiving any recognition for it.

Coming back to our prisoners recently released (pardoned) – do they have marketable skills? Have they learnt a trade while in prison? Do they know how to prepare a CV and how to market themselves? Do they even know where to start looking for a job? Have they thought about what they want to do once they are released? Did they have time to think through all these questions before being released?

So many unanswered questions, yet so few (if any) questions are asked. Why?

Where are we going as a country? As individuals? Do we only live for today and forget to dream about tomorrow?

In the words of the late John Lennon:

You, may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world



The rocky road to my African Dream . . .

It’s a strange, strange world we’re living in master Jack . . . (so the song goes sung by a group called “Four Jacks and a Jill” many years ago)

As I sit in the sun on my stoep and read my newspaper(s), I’m shocked (but not surprised) by what I read . . .

Service delivery by our government:

• 520 civil servants convicted for embezzling R28million

• the number of parliamentary questions asked last year has increased by nearly 12% over 2010 – from 3,879 questions to 4,333 questions – according to our current Deputy President.

• 6 provinces running short of drugs (HIV/AIDS)

The ANC successfully organises a march in protest of a “painting” . . .

• A 17 year old mentally challenged girl was gang raped and the video went viral. NO ONE MARCHED.

• An 8 year old girl was raped by a 15 year old boy and her eyes gourged out. NO ONE MARCHED.

• Entire provinces are without school text books – it’s almost June. NO ONE MARCHED.

• A man convicted of raping, drugging and intimidating a girl has had his conviction and sentencing set aside because a magistrate had not followed proper procedure in taking the girl’s oath. NO ONE MARCHED.

. . . and still no one is marching . . .

A report compiled by the Department of Basic Education, released earlier this month called “The Annual Surveys for Ordinary Schools for 2009-2010” states that:

• In grade 3 alone, about 109 pupils fell pregnant in 2009 – as opposed to “only” 17 in the same grade in 2008. In grade 4, the number increased to 107 from 69 in 2008, and in grade 5, 297 girls fell pregnant in 2009.

• The highest concentration of pregnant pupils was in high schools, from grade 7 – 9. In 2009, a total of 45,276 girls became pregnant.

• As many as a million children grow up without a father, and many others depend on the extensive social grant network for financial support.

According to Professor Kobus Maree, a lecturer in educational psychology at the University of Pretoria, the grade 3 pregnancy rate is “appalling” and “deeply upsetting”. A large number of these children become pregnant because of rape and abuse.

For all the children who fall pregnant in grade 3, how many rapists are actually prosecuted, charged and sentenced?

Prof Maree continued to say that teachers he spoke to felt that the teaching of Life Orientation has been dumped on them without adequate training. He said that pupils in the higher grades often got pregnant to qualify for social grants. The 2,813,976 children receiving grants in 2009 increased to 3,110,688 a year later.

Although government has to take much of the blame for this, parents are also responsible for not giving children sufficient support at home.

Prof Maree also said that although the government had allocated a large chunk of its budget to education, incompetent and complacent public officials were not delivering educational infrastructure and other resources.

What has happened to my African Dream?

Is it all “pie in the sky” that will all only happen after I die?

Am I dreaming an impossible dream and fighting the unbeatable foe?