THE TUNING INTO REALITY PROJECT
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
When Nelson Mandela was released from jail and became president of South Africa the world believed that apartheid was over. Unfortunately this is not the case. These are the facts:
Most black people in South Africa still suffer terrible poverty, living in shacks in the ghetto-like townships where they are often at the mercy of the ruthless, desperate criminals who rule the streets.
The most affected by the situation are the youth (18 -25 year olds) who are often referred to as just another lost generation, or the forgotten youth.
Victims of one of the world’s worst education systems, the unemployment rate sits at 70% for black youth.
With the situation as it is, it is understandable that young people suffer from feelings of hopelessness and despair and cannot see a way out of their situation. Feeling hopeless, they become vulnerable, often joining gangs, getting involved in crime and turning to alcohol and drugs just to try and fit in, seeing this as the only way they can belong and escape their misery.
Trying to support and encourage unemployed youth to find ways to change their situation is a difficult task. We don’t have the solutions to their very difficult problems of feeling worthless, hopeless, and that they will never be able to break out of the cycle of crime and poverty.
Due to this negative mindset we designed the Breaking Beliefs course, challenging youth to question their conditioned beliefs. In the training we use many techniques and teachings from Zen Coaching including listening, inquiry, allowing feelings, being present etc. We find that when participants are supported to tap into their inner resources they are able to see the solutions to their situation. The course has been an amazing success and has had a life changing impact on the participants.
Mbuyi working with Grade 8 learners from the Dunoon township and Lisa with "Tuning into reality" participants
There is a huge need for this work in South Africa right now. Young people are desperate to find another way to be, to make sense of their experience and get in touch with the true qualities they have developed as a direct result of surviving their difficult and challenging life conditions. Once they stop believing that things are hopeless they are able to tap into their strength, resilience, compassion, courage, connection etc. When this starts happening they are able to see that their experience has nourished them and made them strong and they can start to see that they do have power and can make choices instead of being defined by their circumstances. This is what we call Tuning into Reality.
Tuning into Reality kicked off with a bang in 2019. The feedback from the first 3 months of work has been phenomenal and allowed us to continue running more workshops, longer term training and offer much needed mentoring. In almost a year of operating we have worked with 325 people, with the majority being youth from disadvantaged situations or staff from the NGOs who support upliftment in township communities. The support from Kare Landfald and the Zen Coaching network has enabled this programme to kick off!
Tuning into Reality 2019
Here are some of the highlights from our first year of Tuning into Reality.
Philippi Community Youth
Philippi Community is one of the most impoverished communities in South Africa with the highest levels of crime in the country. We run Tuning into Reality workshops for young people every second weekend and attendance ranges from 10 -22 participants. Participants come voluntarily and most are referred to by friends. Some of the topics we covered were Byron Katie’s Work, Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and The Four Agreements. Deep listening is used as an exploration tool. Young people see the workshop as a platform to explore personal issues that they are facing daily.
After School Tutors (Worcester, Table View and Khayelitsha)
This has been an experiment; running Breaking Beliefs with a large group of 80 youth over 7 sessions spread throughout the year. We have also worked with the facilitators of this group – and have run 3 workshops with them. Subjects we have covered include: Domestication (Inquiry into belief systems), NVC, the power of not taking things personally, the power of not making assumptions and how when we always do our best we are present to our experience. Our participants have really loved the workshops, they say things like: “I couldn’t sleep last night, I was so excited that you guys were coming today” and “This has been a life-changing experience for me”, ‘Using NVC with my family has really shifted things”.
At the start of each session, we recap what we have covered previously and it is really amazing to notice how much they have retained. We can see that they are putting the tools into action.
Project codeX (Weekly workshops and one-on-one coaching)
Project codeX aims to solve Africa’s major challenges of youth unemployment and a critical programming skills gap by training and placing young developers in great entry level jobs. Next Step Coaching runs weekly workshops with 50 Project codeX students. The workshops serve as the personal development component of their course. Most of the students come from the townships around Cape Town and they love and appreciate the safe space that Next Step creates for them in the workshops. Mbuyi’s one-on-one coaching sessions include Zen Coaching tools and techniques and provides a space where the young people can wake up and tune in to what is really happening right now in their present reality.
Ladies in Tech (Khayelitsha and Guguletu)
Mbuyi ran a 3 hour workshop with 18 young women being being trained and empowered with tech skills so that they can be employable. In this workshop Mbuyi created a safe platform for the young women to explore their stressors, notice what strategies they employ to deal with stress and also looked into some of the strategies they find useful. The workshop landed well and feedback included participants wishing their parents could also attend as most experience stress at home as well as an awareness of coping strategies that they might have been using unconsciously.
Inkwenkwezi High School Grade 8 and 9 (Du Noon)
We ran two workshops focusing on negative thinking. The aim was to get learners to notice how when they are fully engaged in activities where they are doing their best and enjoying themselves, no matter how simple their experiences are, their minds are not going through negative thinking. Learners discovered that negative thinking brings about limiting beliefs which can affect self-confidence both inside and outside the classroom. The focus was on supporting them to find the resources that get them through their difficult times.
Ikamva Labantwana Bethu (Philippi Lower Crossroads)
ILB trains young unemployed youth who have just completed high school to serve as tutors in schools. Their tutors work towards improving the primary school learners’ academic performance and also serve as role models. Next Step Coaching has run the Breaking Beliefs course with the tutors once every week which has served as the tutors’ personal development component at ILB.
Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation Youth@Work
Mbuyi mentors 6 young people between the ages of 18 and 22 who are part of the Youth @Work programme which empowers young people to take control of their lives. The programme attracts young people from under-served areas in Cape Town. Mbuyi uses Mindfulness and Zen coaching tools in his weekly mentoring sessions with these youth.
Plans for 2020
Our 2019 work has been so successful and has invited so many shifts into the lives of the individuals we have worked with that there is a greater demand for our services than we are able to fulfill because we need more of us!! The plan in 2020 is to start building a small new team of coaches who will go through the official Zen Coaching training starting in December this year. They will work closely with Mbuyi and Lisa, assisting us in running the workshops and learning to coach and mentor. In this way we will able to spread our work to many more beneficiaries and invite people to a way of being that offers more ease, joy and contentment even though the external circumstances cannot change that much.
The large government department we have worked with has invited us to put together a programme offering support to youth who have connected to an opportunity but are unable to show up and attend because they find their external circumstances overwhelming. They have invited us to put together a package involving support through group and one-on-one coaching. We intend to pilot this project next year with the volunteer assistance of the new Zen Coaching trainees, and our plan is to build our team of coaches at the same time.
Any assistance from the Zen Coaching network will go towards paying these trainee coaches a small stipend so that they can commit to our work.
Mbuyi Yanta is 27 years old and lives in one of Cape Town, South Africa’s largest townships, Khayelitsha. When Mbuyi was 9 years old the crime rate was so bad that his mother, who was bringing up 3 children as a single mother in poverty-stricken circumstances, feared for his life or that he would get involved in a gang. Mbuyi was separated from her and sent to live with an aunt in a safer area in a smaller town where he managed to finish school. He studied hard and got good results. He was accepted into university, but there was no money for transport or accommodation and after 18 months of struggling to get there every day, often sleeping in the library or on the floor in his friends residence rooms, he was forced to drop out.
In 2016, while volunteering to get some working experience, Mbuyi met a coach from the Zen Coaching network and was deeply influenced by the work. He experienced massive shifts in how he viewed his experience and is now running workshops himself for young people living in the townships who are desperate to find meaning in their lives. Mbuyi has taken over 150 young people through Breaking Beliefs and other workshops designed to increase awareness.
In 2017 Mbuyi got a job as a Self-Development Officer and in 2018 was promoted to Self-Development Coordinator. He has now left his job to focus on getting “Tuning into Reality” to many more youth. Mbuyi completed a Fundamentals course in Organisational Relationship Systems Coaching in 2017, the foundation training in African Family Constellations and a certificate course in Alchemy – the Art and Science of Co-facilitation with CRR Global. Mbuyi has also won a full scholarship to participate in the first South African University-Based Certificate Training in Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) delivered by the Institute for Mindfulness South Africa, in collaboration with Stellenbosch University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in 2019. He has completed a fellowship in Organisational Innovation, and completed the ORSC training in 2019. He is a co-founder of Next Step Coaching and Training.