Mahadi Ntsoko

I am Mahadi Ntsoke, a facilitator and mentor at Phaphama Initiatives, working hand in hand with my community young and old.

I love serving my community, especially at the schools where I’m doing after school programmes during the week and on Saturdays.  During school holidays we use my yard.

I meet up with kids and create a safe space where they will be able to connect and share everything that’s happening in their day to day life.

Some days I meet up with their parents to do sessions in order to connect with them, especially those who are dealing with teenagers (adolescents), in their homes. I’m very passionate about helping and creating a safe space in my community as I was a victim of sexual abuse when I was still a minor and I was intimidated not to tell a soul.

These are the skills I learned from Phaphama.

Tumelo Tau

Hi, I'm Tumelo Tau co-founder and director of training and development organisation Sebata Bahurutsi as well as innovations and brand management company Myriad Vanguard.

I am going to share a little about my beginning/s to personal as well as entrepreneurial growth. I will also share to you the role Phaphama Initiatives played in the development of that growth.

Growing up I have always been an independent young boy with a strong entrepreneurial mind, starting from selling sweets and snacks in primary school to informally owning a hair and cosmetics shop by the time I was in high school, before being on multiple boards of various organisations including that of non profits.

Throughout my successful youthful journey, I still had a lot of personal challenges I faced within myself that spawned the angry and rebellious teenager in me, up until my concerned mother introduced me to Phaphama Initiatives via the Alternatives to Violence Programme. My life has never been the same after being a member and part the Phaphama family, from being a participant to becoming a facilitator of their various programmes like Gender Reconciliation, which also played a huge role in my personal growth as a young man. Through Phaphama my quest to becoming a professional workshop facilitator opened up other doors I could never have imagined, like Life, Relationships, organisational and Systems Coaching amongst many other programmes including mentorship from within and other partner organisations of Phaphama.

I can boldly say I am a self and socially aware/considerate human being through Phaphama learnings. Thank you.

Keith Vermeulen (Former Director, Parliamentary Office of South African Council of Churches)

This work is absolutely relevant for South Africa. It is the only practical tool I have experienced that has a realistic potential to heal and transform gender relations.

Nozizwe Madlala Routledge (former Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Deputy Minister of Health)

I’ve been looking for a long time to find a way to bring healing and reconciliation between women and men here in South Africa.  This work is the answer.  We need much more of this work in South Africa.

Hollard Life Assurance Company

The language learning experience has had a powerful influence on the organisation culture in opening communications between members of staff from diverse backgrounds in terms of language, culture and positions in the organisation.

The methodology of pairing language learners with mother tongue speakers within Hollard was especially effective, and has provided a strong foundation for ongoing language learning and (perhaps more importantly) communication.

Warwick Bloom, Hollard Life Assurance Company

Sheila Mudau

I’m Sheila Mudau, from Tshikudini Village, Thohoyandou Limpopo.  I met Phaphama while attending a TVC [The Victorious Community] programme, I was reported there for being a bad child and not behaving well. They introduced Phaphama to me.

With Phaphama I first did the Making a Living Programme, which included conflict resolution, we learned how to handle conflicts in a non-violent way.  We also got the opportunity to learn about the gardening. We also were given an opportunity to be a mentor, mentoring children at school to show them good behaviour, also non-violent ways to act at school and prevent bullying at schools.

This programme has helped me a lot, because I’m a better person now.  I used to be a violent person, I used to react [violently] to everything that happened.  But since I attended this programme, I’m a calm person, I have better words to resolve conflict with those around me.  

This programme also helped me to make a garden for myself.  I get food from that garden and sell the surplus.  I planted ground nuts.

It also helped me to gain confidence, because while I was attending that programme and going to schools, I was able to speak to children, and this gave me confidence.  I even got a job [as a teacher assistant], I used what I learnt in the programme and applied it during my interview, and they were impressed and I was hired.

So now I’m a mentor at school also, because of that programme.

It changed my life, I’m a better person today because of that programme, thank you.

As told to Thamsanqa Mzaku in Tshikudini Village, Limpopo, 8 March 2023.

Thuli Ndlovu

When I joined AVP I had issues and emotional conflict within myself and was facing the challenge of how to resolve them.  I grew up in KwaZulu-Natal and when I entered primary school that was where I had my first taste of violence. The older kids at school used to bully me and took my pocket money and when I reported this at home my mother would beat me and say that I must learn to stand up for myself.  I ended up beating other kids and resolving conflicts with my fists.  Whenever there was violence directed at me I retaliated with violence. So when I attended AVP for the first time in 2002 I came to the realisation, with the help from other participants and facilitators that even before trying to solve your problems you need to identify the root cause of it. It was a challenge that I needed to face and overcome without pressure from anyone and at my own pace.

The second challenge was very hard for me even to talk about to other people. I was full of hate, anger and bitterness. At the age of 14 I joined one of the political parties and my school was mostly influenced by that party. As the youth we were not taught that other youths from other parties are not enemies because we were all fighting for the same thing: freedom in our country.  So when I came to Gauteng in the 90’s it was a different thing from what I experienced back at home. Now we were fighting with so much anger, hate and death wished onto other people. It was a shocking change for me. I was there in City Library Gardens where people were killed by anonymous gunmen and I was unharmed but it fuelled my anger and hate towards other people who were in opposite parties to mine. When I saw someone wearing a political t-shirt or saying something about other political parties I would see a red flag. I have bottled up a lot of emotion in my heart and when the media reported that someone has been shot or burned from opposite parties I was smiling and saying that is my revenge, not thinking that behind that t-shirt there is a human being, a sister, a brother, a father, a mother who are being loved by their families.

The real test for me was when I attended an AVP Advanced workshop because that was the time to deal with my challenges like why am I bitter, where does it come from and who do I blame or I direct my hate to.  Am I on a path to self destruction? That was the time that I realised that pointing fingers at each other is just a waste of precious time.  With the space which was created in that workshop of being safe and comfortable it was easy for me to point to the root causes of my anger, violence and hate and which way to take to healing, step by step.Thuli wrote the testimony in 2007 when she was still an AVP participant in Phaphama.