Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the category “Volunteer Q&A”

Volunteer Q&A: Hospital Ministry

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Name: Dean Kietzmann

Congregation: Rondebosch PM

Occupation: Assistance Compliance Officer at an investment company

What sparked your interest or drew you to this initiative?

I was drawn to the concept of Hospital or Hospice Ministry towards the end of 2011 while watching Di and Nathan Gernetzsky’s journey through Di’s terminal cancer. While it must have been an incredibly painful time for them and their family, I couldn’t help but notice how blessed they both were to know Jesus, and for the love and support they received as the community rallied around them. As Rigby Wallace put it in one of the meetings, “We are helping a young woman walk her final road to be with God.” I began to reflect on how many people facing death don’t know Jesus, or don’t have someone to walk this final road with them. After chatting it through with a few elders and friends, “Hospital Ministry”, for want of a better name, was born early last year.

Can you tell us a bit about how you serve in Hospital Ministry?

A group of us meet every Thursday at Booth Memorial Hospital in Oranjezicht, Cape Town. We then split up and go and meet patients in various wards. We try spend at least 20 minutes or so with each patient we see, chatting to them, sharing the gospel, praying for them if they allow and generally trying to love them the way Jesus does. We try see the same patients from week to week to build relationships with them. We pray for the staff too.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your experience?

To pick one particular experience is very difficult. A constant theme, though, that everyone who has done Hospital Ministry has picked up on, is that we always seem to walk out more blessed than when we walked in. Our intention is to pour ourselves spiritually into the patients we see, and yet we regularly emerge more spiritually filled than when we walked in. We have seen countless miracles, broken lives made new, the sick healed, and the wandering and lost reunited to the Father.

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Volunteer Q&A: U-turn

One Common Grounder shares her experience of volunteering at U-turn, a Common Good partner organisation which works alongside people living on the streets.

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Full name: Catherine Hannington

Congregation: Rondebosch PM

Occupation: I have just finished studying law and I am taking a gap year to do volunteer work.

Tell us a bit about what you do at U-turn.

U-turn runs a weekly Bible study for women who live on the street.  I meet with a group of about eight women and we have a time of fellowship, worship and teaching.

When do you go and for how long?

The Bible study takes place every Thursday at 11am and runs for about an hour and a half.  I meet with two women who work for U-turn to prepare on a Wednesday.

What drew you towards volunteering in this specific way?

If one looks at Jesus’ ministry on earth He was always found amongst the broken and hurting people.  In Luke 4 v 18 Jesus reads out the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed”.  1 John 2 v 6 says that “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”.  I really just felt as I read the Bible that if I wanted to draw closer to Jesus, I needed to spend time with the poor.  I really felt that God wanted me to make it a regular part of my life.  I chose to help people living on the street specifically as I drive past them every day and I wanted the opportunity to make a difference in their lives.

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Volunteer Q&A – Paradigm Shift

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Full name: Rose Reddy

Congregation: Rondebosch AM

Occupation: Order Facilitation Manager

How long have you been a volunteer at Paradigm Shift? Since February 2012

When do you go and for how long? Thursdays for about 1 ½ hours

Can you explain what you do while you’re there? I assist with setting up for the Discipleship and Business Training Sessions. This entails putting out the training material on the tables, writing out the key learning areas on the board and putting up the visual aids. You either assist as one of the table trainers or one of the facilitators of the training. Table trainers assist with facilitating discussions and group activities at a table of about 5 to 6 entrepreneurs – very interesting and stimulating!

Can you tell us a bit about Paradigm Shift? The Paradigm Shift programme is a highly interactive training course designed to empower entrepreneurs with business skills at whatever level of education one is at and even those who do not speak English as a first language. It is designed in a way that encourages and challenges entrepreneurs to apply learnt skills through daily application, group discussions and written work in the workbooks and weekly challenges they do on their own.

Did you have any concerns about volunteering? I cannot say I had any concerns as I took comfort in the knowledge that God would be right there with me and he would give me the courage and confidence I needed to stand in front of people and facilitate. I always invited the Holy Spirit to be with me. It was also a great help to prepare thoroughly to ensure that you knew the material well. Prayer during my quiet times, before and after each session, was a great comfort for me.

What are  some of the challenges you face in volunteering? The difference in language is a challenge one faces when engaging with entrepreneurs, as many of the students are foreign nationals. It does get better when you start to engage one-on-one and you are able to explain concepts slowly and in simple language. What keeps me going is the belief that this work is God’s purpose and that he has chosen me to be part of it and I consider it a privilege to be used in such a manner. I always felt God’s presence with me while I was in the front facilitating a lesson. Every time I started feeling a little nervous, I was reminded that God was speaking through me and that he would always give me the words to speak to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer experience? My most fulfilling experience as a volunteer was seeing the entrepreneurs grow in their business, grow in their confidence and their spiritual growth. Their enthusiasm and willingness to participate in all aspects of the lessons was also really encouraging. I enjoyed engaging with the entrepreneurs and the other volunteers and the team spirit was amazing. To be part of this initiative is an amazing blessing to me. I just feel so encouraged by this programme. God  IS at work! In  us and through us,  and I ask the Holy Spirit to continue to show me where opportunities to serve present themselves and step up. I feel so privileged!

– If you would like to find out more about volunteering with Paradigm Shift, please email info@commongood.org.za. The next course is starting in March so you can sign up until the end of February. 

Volunteer Q&A – Izandla Zethemba Fun Days

Full name: Jessica Granger

Congregation: Rondebosch PM

Occupation: Graphic designer/ photographer

How long have you been a volunteer at Izandla Zethemba? About seven months

When do you go and for how long? We have a kids or teens fun day on a Saturday, every six to eight weeks from 9-3pm.

Can you explain what you do while you’re there? We take some time before to prepare what has to be done (e.g. making sure the food for the day is sorted, transport sorted, there are enough volunteers etc) Then on the actual day, we take the kids or teens out somewhere fun. A few months ago, we took the kids to the aquarium, which was really nice. Last week, we also combined the kids and teens and took them to Muizenberg beach. We played games with them, built sand castles, played soccer, swam in the sea and had loads of fun! I also help take some of the photos for the fun days. (Click here for pics from the latest one!)

Can you tell us a bit about IZ? Izandla Zethemba is an organization that has various initiatives to help kids, teens and adults who have been affected or infected by HIV/Aids. Its based in Thambo Village (near Gugalethu). IZ runs quite a few different projects including the Izandla Zethemba AIDS project, a second hand clothing store, educational projects and also the kids and teens fun days. They are an amazing organization to work with and are very committed to reaching out to poorer communities. They bring hope and joy to many people in these communities. (I have seen this especially  in the lives of the children and teens.)

Many of the children in the programme come from very different, and often difficult, backgrounds. How do you connect with them? I think that by just showing them that you love them (building friendships with them) and care is a good way to connect with them. I try to be very enthusiastic and energetic during the activities (many of the activities involve teams/ groups) and encourage them to work together. It helps to build self-confidence and feeling like they are part of a team. By chatting to them and encouraging them to take part and work together, they feel more connected and more motivated to realize they can achieve things and be successful.

What are some of the challenges you face in volunteering? What keeps you going? I think sometimes the fact that some of the kids/ teens come from very difficult upbringings/ home situations, which makes it tough to really connect with some of them at times. For example, if some of the kids misbehave, its difficult to know how to handle those situations. Just knowing that I can be a part of making a difference in their lives by showing them love and care, and building friendships with them keeps me going, I would say. And also because this is what Jesus calls us to. Jesus said: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10).

What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer experience? I think that realising my call to “live social justice” and responding to it, by volunteering for IZ, has been very fulfilling. Also realising that even though I am volunteering to be an influence in the lives of the kids at IZ, I myself have learnt so much, and they in fact, have influenced me as well. By being part of something bigger than myself where God is so evidently at work has been very fulfilling.

Why not share your feedback or encouragement with Jessica by posting a comment to her below?

-To find out when the next Izandla Zethemba Fun Day is taking place, email info@commongood.org.za

Volunteer Q&A: Paradigm Shift Business Course

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 info@commongood.org.za

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