Roy, right, with Freddy, left, one of the Paradigm Shift students, at the course graduation ceremony
Full name: Roy Mayers
Congregation: Common Ground South
Occupation: Finance and Admin Manager (Retired)
How long have you been a volunteer at Paradigm Shift? This is my second year.
When do you go and for how long? I spend an hour one evening a week with a little extra time for set-up and prayer. A normal course is 18 weeks, but we alternate volunteers as needed.
Can you explain what you do while you’re there? I teach business skills and discipleship training as a table facilitator with up to six aspiring entrepreneurs.
Facilitators who are normally six in number take it in turns to lead a 30 minute business skills or discipleship training session and can be involved with mentoring or micro-loan family meetings.
Can you tell us a bit about Paradigm Shift? The mission of Paradigm Shift is to train churches in South Africa to provide business training, discipleship, micro-credit and mentoring to those living in poverty in urban areas.
Common Ground is presently the only church in Cape Town assisting Paradigm Shift in meeting the spiritual and economic needs of the poor in their communities in our city through this excellent program.
The aim is to provide long-term solutions to the poverty surrounding mainly unemployed people in urban areas where needs of the working poor in neighbouring communities are tremendous, especially for women and children.
Why did you decide to volunteer at Paradigm Shift? On hearing of Common Good’s involvement I immediately identified with the need and wanted to make a difference in a practical way. I had previously been involved as a volunteer teaching woodwork skills to young men at the Westlake United Church Trust Community Centre. The opportunities to share life’s experiences in a meaningful way seemed tremendous.
Did you have any concerns about volunteering? I had no experience of formal teaching and lacked confidence in this area. It seemed harder to me as for many years my wife had lectured at UCT and run Lifeline courses, while my son was a school teacher and Radio CCFM broadcaster. Needless to say I soon discovered a very supportive group environment and quickly found my confidence in the small “up-front teaching” part of my commitment.
The business trainer and life coach manuals provide a wealth of material in addition to the information in the entrepreneurs manuals. This made it immediately easy.
What are some of the challenges you face in volunteering? A little time is required weekly to familiarise myself with the course material which is always excellent and relevant to the needs of our entrepreneurs.
It can be hard work winning the trust and friendship of people who have such different challenges in their lives, and to accept that they have unique skills and opportunities to overcome problems in life and faith with which I have seldom had to cope.
What keeps you going? I gave my life to Christ more than 50 years ago, but every day brings opportunities to learn more of the mind of Christ and His love and His practical way of leading and guiding by His Spirit and through His word, which are powerful in meeting the needs of ordinary men and women.
What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer experience? The end of course graduation is an amazing event where graduates and past graduates share how much they have benefited in their business, in their confidence in facing life’s difficulties, and in their daily walk with Christ. It is like seeing a miracle where a “few loaves and fishes are used to feed a multitude”. Helping men and women recognise their gifts and God-given abilities despite material poverty, remains an awesome experience.
– Would you like to find out more about volunteering with Paradigm Shift? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.