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10 ways to give back this Festive Season

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love” – Hamilton Wright Mabie.

The festive season is all about giving, and what better gift than your time? Now is a good time to start thinking about helping other people – reflect on what is important to you, and how you can use your own talents to help others out.

You can also use this time of year to challenge your friends, family and colleagues to organise a goods donation drive. Here are some ideas for simple ways to make a big difference.

These ideas are very specific, and ways to help Non-profit organisations with exactly what they need. You can use these as guidelines and find an organisation near you to work with over the Festive Season.

Forgood – a website where you can connect with good Causes in your area – have put together a selection of ways to help an organisation with exactly what they need. For more information take a look at

  1. Grab your loved ones and join CEEP Hospital Painting project when they go and paint murals in hospitals, to spread the holiday cheer to little ones stuck in the bare walls of a hospital ward.
  2. Donate left over food from holiday festivities to a good Cause. One such an organisation is Pikkewyntjies / Penguinkids Preschool in Betty’s Bay
  3. Donate presents to a place looking after Orphans and Vulnerable Children. When you buy your own children gifts, add a couple of toys to your shopping cart and make these holidays a happy time for these children.
  4. Put your gift wrapping skills to good use! How about going with Reach for a Dream Foundation to malls around Johannesburg. Wrap a few special items and put a smile on someone’s face!
  5. Imagine spending the holidays in a hospital ward, all alone. You can bring joy to people with serious mental illnesses staying in Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital over the Christmas period. This Christmas programme brings joy to a tough time in life, helping people stay connected to their communities and offering opportunities for socializing.
  6. Want to make a more long-term impact? Use your resources and help find 3 orphaned girls opportunities for internships or jobs after they matriculate at the end of 2017.
  7. When you clear out your office desk and lock up for the holidays, collect all your unused pens, leftover paper and other unused stationary and donate these to iThemba Projects. They can use these for their Early Childhood Development programmes and mentoring work.
  8. Need some packaging to sort out your festive shopping? Maybe you’re doing some home organising over the holidays? Slovo Centre of Excellence has a solution for you – and you’ll be helping a good Cause!
  9. Collect dog & cat food and other pet-care items. Take your kids and go and visit an animal shelter in your area. Those fur-friends also deserve some happiness!
  10. If you can’t see a Giving Opportunity you’d like to help with, you can create an Offer. What this means, is you can say exactly how you’d like to volunteer, or what you’d like to donate. Your message gets sent to Causes in your area, and they get back to you if they can use your help. Then you can choose which Cause/Causes to work with.

Whether you have a lot of time on your hands this December, or even if you’d like to just drop off a few goodies with a good Cause – there is a way to help which will leave you feeling like you have shared the gift of love. And nothing beats that!

 

Nerissa works as a community manager at forgood – a social startup which connects Causes with people who want to help. She has 2 children – Ezra is 6 and Calista a very mature 1.5 year old. In her free time she helps at the Haemophilia Foundation, and tries to stay sane by still making time for herself

10 Tips to Help Stressed Moms Relax

If I were to ask any of my mom friends what their biggest “stress” is – I think, no, I know – the answer would be TIME. Juggling work, kids, personal life, household chores, kids and more kids is exhausting and I think we all would love to have more time so that we can get everything done with less stress. Alongside the worry about not having enough time to get everything done, is the ever-present Mommy-guilt. The more time we spend making sure our households run smoothly, the more guilty we feel about time we are NOT spending with the kids. It’s an everlasting, exhausting spinning circle.  And at some stage something has to give. The hamster will eventually fall off it’s wheel, and then who will pick up the pieces?

When I was pregnant with my first-born – who is now a 6-year-old boy – a wise old nurse gave me some advice. “Happy mom – happy home” she said. Meaning that as long as the mother is happy, the household would be happy. And I would often dish out this advice to mom-friends. “Friend – you’re feeling bad about leaving your baby with your mom so you can have a day for yourself? Remember – happy mom, happy home”. But those who give advice hardly ever take it. So what happened? I forgot about me. Not mom-me, not working woman-me, not wife-me. ME.

My second baby is now 1.5 years old. To say the last few years have been chaotic is putting it mildly. Baby #2 is one of those clingy babies. She’s gorgeous, but a clinger for sure. Baby #1 who is now a fully-grown pre-schooler has a bleeding disorder. And a very strong will, which makes for interesting stories. A month ago, it dawned on me. I’ve lost ME. Yes, my identity as a mother is important. But it doesn’t define me. And trying to be the perfect mother, wife and employee is not working for me. You know how they say you can’t pour from an empty cup? Well this cup was dry as a bone.

So, I woke up one day and decided to go back to gym. Something I always enjoyed, but in putting myself last, I had sacrifices this little bit of joy. And what a difference it has made! I feel better about myself – physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m less irritated with my kids, I don’t answer e-mails in the middle of the night, and my poor husband is no longer treading on egg-shells.

I realised making time for myself is absolutely vital for me and for my family. This got me thinking. Why are the first things we stop doing the things that give us joy? We often hear that we have to make time for ourselves. But I always thought this mean a day at the spa. And let’s be honest. Who has the time (or money!) for such luxurious spoils?

I made a little list of things I MUST do – to take care of myself. Easy, little things which bring me joy. And even though time is limited and there are needy little hands wanting my attention, I make a point now to do one of these things daily. Here’s my list. I challenge you to make one for yourself, and to stick to doing something on your list every day.

  1. Go to gym. If gymming is not your thing – do something else that gets the blood circulating. Walk around the block (NOT with a pram – by yourself!) Do 10 sit-ups or jumping jacks. Run with your dog!
  2. Sit outside with a cup of tea. Don’t look at your phone, don’t do a chore. Just sit. Listen. Breath. Be…..
  3. Read a magazine. Ok who am I kidding. Read an article in a magazine.
  4. Write a blog. See – now I can tick this from my list today!
  5. Write a letter to a friend. Not an e-mail. An actual old-fashioned letter.
  6. Start a journal.
  7. Phone someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
  8. Have a good giggle. You know when you just laugh at nothing in particular? Do that!
  9. Try on something silly from yonks ago. Take a selfie and send it to someone who won’t expect it.
  10. Paint your toe-nails.

These aren’t activities which would take a long time or cost a lot of money. They are do-able. So do them! You will thank yourself, and your family will too!

 

Nerissa works as a community manager at forgood – a social startup which connects Causes with people who want to help. She has 2 children – Ezra is 6 and Calista a very mature 1.5 year old. In her free time she helps at the Haemophilia Foundation, and tries to stay sane by still making time for herself

Unyoke Peace Building Retreat

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Unyoke Peacebuilding retreat hosted by Nomfundo Walaza and Chris Spies at Volmoed in Hermanus. Read our Tales of Turning blog for a glimpse into my life-changing experience.

Unyoke created a breathing space, a hiatus from the constant motion of everyday life. A chance to pause, reflect and piece together my story. It was a process of deep internal journeying with interludes of tranquil walks, delicious meals and art classes.

The thoughtfulness of the facilitators, as well as the caring of the retreat participants, held a safe space that was alive with the joy and pain of life. Our reflections enabled me to go deeper into the values that have shaped my journey thus far and that shine a light along future pathways. Unearthing the threads of my life and making them visible has given me the courage to leap into the future with open arms.

Unyoke was an opportunity for me to work on my internal processes, to create a solid foundation for my work. It strengthened my belief that transformation needs to take place within ourselves in order to carry out meaningful Peacebuilding and community work. This strong foundation allows me to make aligned decisions as I go forward.

The Peacebuilders, who joined together at Unyoke, carried with them the histories and stories of destinations from across the globe as well as their personal experiences. As they spoke it transported me to different places and times. Our meaningful conversations and connections offer me sustenance as I step forward into the next phase of my life and work. As we stay connected after the retreat, it brings me hope that I am not alone on my journey.

Unyoke is a precious gift that I cherish as part of the evolution of myself and Tales of Turning.

Help Support Vulnerable Mothers

Help support vulnerable mothers and their children by donating to the Tales of Turning Different.org campaign. Here is how your contribution will help:

This project will empower 30 mothers with the skills that they need to help their children reach their full potential.

The basis for a healthy society starts in the early years of childhood.  Children who feel safe and loved at home are more likely to complete their education and become productive members of our society. The Tales of Turning project runs support groups for vulnerable mothers in Durban. This includes teaching parenting skills and showing the mothers how to make educational toys for their children out of recyclable materials. We teach the mothers how to develop self-esteem and empathy in their children. A vital part of the Tales of Turning project is connecting the mothers to resources within the community.

Click here to show your support for vulnerable mothers and their children: Tales of Turning Campaign

Ambrosia Corner Café Supports Vulnerable Mothers

Tales of Turning is excited to announce that Ambrosia Corner Café has joined our Cup of Hope Campaign. We would like to thank Ambrosia Corner Café for uniting with Tales of Turning to help support vulnerable mothers and their children. You can get involved by keeping an eye out for the Cup of Hope Campaign date, visiting Ambrosia Corner Café, buying a cup of coffee and donating R5 to the Tales of Turning Project. If you want to find out more, here is what the campaign is all about.

Looking for a cup of Hope…

The Tales of Turning project unites and empowers vulnerable mothers. If you empower a mother, you empower her entire family. Your donation will not only help teach mothers parenting skills but also educate them on ways they can support their children’s education. You will be opening doors for the mothers, allowing them to have strengthened relationships with each other and their community.

The Tales of Turning project so far has manged to help an incredible 75 mothers and 150 children of Cato Manor, Durban. Determined to raise the funds needed to continue our work, the Tales of Turning team is on the search for a little support, asking all the local coffee shops for a cup of hope. Coffee is defined by many as a cup of hope or the ultimate survival juice. It’s one of the few things that people just get. It’s an unspoken mutual understanding between everyone in the world. We are asking all the local coffee shops of Durban to dedicate one day and help us raise awareness and valuable funds.

Donate to Empower Mothers

We are proud to announce that Tales of Turning has been selected for the different.org crowdfunding platform. The funds from this campaign will enable 30 mothers to complete the Tales of Turning program. You can help to empower vulnerable mothers by donating to the project – just click on the following link: https://different.org/projects/empowering-vulnerable-mothers/

Different.org aims to change South Africa by helping to fundraise for selected projects that are making a difference in our communities. The crowdfunding platform is sponsored by DifferentGroup so all of the money goes directly to the project without any deductions. Their rigorous selection process ensures that only outstanding projects are included on their crowdfunding platform.

4 Ways for Mothers to Self-Nurture

What does it mean to be a mother? It is important to discuss the meaning attached to motherhood in our communities. This includes both your personal views on motherhood and the wider cultural beliefs. Mothers face many pressures and challenges. This is especially true for women who have been further marginalized by their race and class. Last week during a mothers’ support group the women who gathered together expressed how society makes them feel that they are not “good enough” mothers. They shared how they feel the need to me superhuman and to never make mistakes. Other challenges that mothers are facing include unemployment and violence.

It is important to remember that motherhood is an individual experience that is unique to each woman. How we choose to be a mother is a personal choice. Mothers come in different forms and women may decide to adopt either by choice or out of necessity. Whatever your ideas about motherhood are, taking care of children is often challenging and it is important to take time out for yourself. Here are 4 ways that you can self-nurture.

Take some time every week to do something that recharges and revitalises you.

What helps you relax? What hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing? By scheduling some time every week that is just for you, you can make it a habit to take care of yourself. As everyone is different it is important to choose a way to spend your downtime that is best for you. You could choose to go for a run or cuddle up in front of TV to watch your favourite movie. You may want to spend time with friends or to set aside some alone time. The important thing is that you take some time to focus on yourself and to do what you enjoy.

Know where to go for comfort

Where do you get your emotional support from? It is important to have people around you that love you unconditionally for who you really are. Friendship satisfaction plays a vital role in self-care. Knowing where to go for comfort is also important. This could be a friend, family member or partner. Having someone who values you for more than just your role as a mother is vital to your emotional well-being. In addition to making you feel valued as a person these people also offer you a safe space to discuss your feelings. Sometimes just taking time out to talk everything through can offer great emotional release.

Rediscover your hopes and dreams

What are your hopes and dreams? The hopes and dreams of mothers often get pushed aside. It can be helpful to revisit your dreams and identify the skills that you have to make your dreams a reality. This can be a useful reminder of what is important to you. You may want to start working towards your dreams or you may choose to put them somewhere safe so that you can start working towards them at a time that is right for you.

Evaluate your beliefs about motherhood

It is important to evaluate your beliefs about motherhood. The beliefs and ways of thinking which feel supportive are good ones to keep. The beliefs that are causing you anxiety or making you feel pressurised need to be examined further. Ask yourself where this belief comes from? Sometimes finding out the root of the belief can help you to analyse it and break it down. Is it a belief that was passed down from your own mother? Sometimes the stories told to us by society are so powerful that we believe that they are true without questioning them. By questioning the authenticity of these beliefs you can create a space to be a mother in a way that feels right to you.

It is important to remember that you are the expert of your own life. Everyone is different so some methods of self-nurture may work for you while others may not be a good fit. These suggestions are to get you started on the journey of self-care so you can start adding your own to the list.

Parent Effectiveness Training

This week Tales of Turning was privileged to host a Parent Effectiveness Training workshop by Lome Cronje. Lome is a trained social worker and play therapist who has been practicing for 20 years. She also trains adults to council children. In 2015 she completed the Parent Effectiveness Instructors Training so she can offer these skills to other parents. P.E.T was developed by DR. Thomas Gordon. Dr. Thomas Gordon is a licenced clinical psychologist who has achieved international acclaim for his work including three Nobel Peace Prize Nominations. He is the author of numerous publications and books. His Parent Effectiveness Training has helped millions of parents across the globe. In Lome’s two hour workshop the mothers learnt how to communicate with their children more effectively. An important part of the workshop was teaching the mothers how to effectively support their children when their children are facing challenging situations. Not only did the mothers learn useful skills they also had an opportunity to share their worries and fears about motherhood. One wonderful activity saw the mothers blowing all their fears into a balloon and releasing them together as a group. When we were enjoying juice and cake after the workshop the mothers had an opportunity to share with me what they thought of the session. One mother summed up the groups thoughts “We are excited about what we learnt today. We feel that we have learnt so much to go home and use with our children”

 

Tales of Turning Celebration

Tales of Turning hosted a celebration to honour the mothers in the Cato Manor community. Being a mother can be challenging and we wanted to acknowledge the hard work that mothers are doing to raise their children in challenging circumstances. The dedicated members of our mothers group received certificates for participating in our seven week program which includes parenting effectiveness training. The program teaches the mothers how to make educational activities for their children out of recyclable materials that they can find around the house. The mothers also learnt how to develop empathy and self-esteem in their children. The awards ceremony featured speeches by Bongiwe Mthembu and Project Manager Jenna-Lee Strugnell. Phelo Muyanga gave an inspirational speech to the mothers and handed out the certificates. One of our group participants, Gcwalisile Mcineka, told the audience more about her experience participating in the mothers’ group program. Our group participants were encouraged to invite other mothers from the community and we were pleased to see lots of new faces. The media were there to document our event and other members of the public joined in to show their support. The event was an opportunity for people to learn more about the program that the Tales of Turning project runs. Guests were given the opportunity to view an exhibition which featured photos by Matthew Willman (sponsored by Vodacom), Vincent Strugnell and Preston Kyd. The mothers enjoyed a guest performance by singer Linda Gcwensa. A highlight of the day was a performance by our youth dancing group which was led by by Njongo Capoeira. We were fortunate enough to have Ranga Media at the event to document this special occasion. After lots of hard work by the Tales of Turning team we were pleased that the event was such a success.

 

Youth Program: Capoeira

If you are wandering what Capoeira is all about read this informative article which was shared by Tales of turning volunteer, George Mthembu, who is one of our Capoeira instructors for the Tales of Turning youth program.

“Capoeira is an AfroBrazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African slaves with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. Under suppression, Capoeira was outlawed under Penal code around the 1890s eventually being admittedly recognized as a national sport only much later. Today, Capoeira is practiced throughout the world. In South Africa under the mentorship of Mestre Evaldo Bogado de Almeida and other cultural leaders of Rio de Janeiro, the Durban Contemporary groups have been growing from strength to strength in sharing the position change that Capoeira brings communities. Celebrating the African and Brazilian culture in a dynamic mutual exchange.”

“Tales of Turning works with NJONGO CAPOEIRA which was founded in 2011 by Patrick and Natasha Mkhize. The Njongo Capoeira initiative is a movement that seeks to use the art as a medium for community skills development and self help. The isiZulu term “injongo” means purpose or aim. Social mobility being one of the main principles. Activities include music, movements and team building exercises. A sustainable healthy lifestyle for the young and old alike.”