Volunteering: You at your Best

Volunteering: Part 2

With our Volunteer induction having just happened on Monday 2 October, it felt fitting to post another article on volunteering well.

In eThekwini we have about 3500 registered NPO’s.  That is not including all the charities that are not registered as they are going on quite nicely without the paperwork.  There is a wide variety of services that are offered in various locations.  Choosing an organisation that would bring out your best or benefit from you the most can be quite daunting. But just like you (generally) do not get married on your first date, you should not pick an organisation because it is the first one you heard of.  To make the most of your volunteer time do some research before you marry yourself to an organisation.  Here are some questions to help guide you:

  • What is being done in my community? Most people cannot go off on extended volunteer trips, and when you have to travel an hour to where you are going to give your time, you probably will not last that long. Look local, local to your office so you can pop in on your way to or from work, or even during your lunch hour, or look close to home so that it is just a short trip on a weekend or during your free time.
  • Match up with what you want to do. You may have to do some real digging. Not all organisations have web presence, use your networks.
  • Prioritise your top 4 and interview them. Make a site visit and ask them questions.  You know you, they do not, find out if you are going to be a good fit in their space.  Is your heart aligned to their vision?  Is there something you can do (within your limited capacity) to help them reach their potential?
  • What are the organisations expectations of volunteers? Some organisations are very structured, you submit paperwork, you are inducted, you sign your code of conduct, and you are given a task, you are monitored. Others you can literally could do anything. If you are going to have contact with minors, you are going to be checked on the sexual offenders list and you will be required to submit a police clearance certificate.
  • What cultural boundaries am I crossing? Most of us don’t think of our own culture too much.  It’s just the way we are; the normal way we do things.  Here in Durban, we have a literal melting pot of cultures.  Where this question is only often pertinent is in foreign volunteering,  here is Durban it is relevant all the time! Be mindful that not all people you will volunteer with will react the same way you do when you work together.
  • Does the organisation have the capacity to handle a volunteer? It may seem a strange question, but volunteers take a lot of time and manpower to prepare for. Some NPO’s can cope with volunteers and others cannot.  If you feel like you going to the organisation is a burden on them, it probably is. Respect that and move on to another organisation who has the capacity to host you.  Organisations cope on minimal budget and are stretched to capacity on their human resource if you are taking someone away from their usual job or if you do not do your work to the exact standard that is required you are wasting someone’s time and sometimes the organisation’s resources.

The more knowledge you have of the organisations in your area the more you are able to help and the more likely your volunteering experience is going to add value to the community and be enjoyable for you. If you would like information on some organisations in your area, please ask us and ask one of the organisations in your area as they generally know who else is operating nearby.  Enjoy your time giving back to making Durban all it was meant to be!

We have another volunteer induction happening on 13 November.  If you would like to hear about some organisations that you would be able to serve in, in eThekwini, this will be your last chance this year! Email volunteer@wearedurban.com for more information.

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It’s Time to Grow Up

Being a mom of three I have read the same books numerous times, but there is a firm favourite (so much so that I can recite the entire book!). It is called “Cave baby”, by Julia Donaldson.  In it, the cave baby paints on two sets of cave walls; his parent’s and a grey woolly mammoth’s.  Both exclaim, “Look what he’s done!”, one furious and one with pure joy.  Both are the same pictures, but they are received differently by the parents and the mammoths.  So too is the work of NPO’s, businesses and government.  We need to find the correct context and partners so that we receive the excited, “Look what he’s done!”

In reflecting on the “Aligning perspectives panel”, it reinforced the marriage analogy that Nationbuilder has developed over this past year in the collabs. I believe many of the panelists were talking about it inadvertently.  Even in their conclusions they alluded to long term partnerships being the solution to seeing sustainable social change. However, I want to lay the challenge to each partner. What was described as struggles in the partnerships between the role players in the form of problems in dealing with NPO’s, the power struggle and even in working with the government is immaturity.  The key to a great partnership is not finding the right “one”, or good chemistry between donor and funder, or great M&E structures, or even trust.  These things are wonderful but tend to be a symptom of something else, something far deeper.  I would suggest the key to beautiful, sustainable long term change in partnership is in identity.  Umemulo.   If we are truly serious about seeing complete social dignity, social health, in SA, I think we need to grow up.   We need to know who we are and what we have been called to do.  No one organization, business or system is going to bring dignity to all those who are suffering. We need to become mature in what we do and no longer play childish games.  The games we play indicate our immaturity, in the corporate world, government world and the NPO sector. The games we play are the begging game, the changing game, the blaming game, the hiding game and so many more that are unbecoming of adulthood.

Umemulo.  The person is ready to marry. They are an adult.  They know who they are, what they are doing and where they are going in life.  If a person knows their true identity, they are attractive to all around them, they accomplish much in their short years, they are focused and we are in awe of them.  Expectations are clear, and communication is easy – there are no games.  Their “yes” is yes and their “no” is no.  The same for business, government and NPO’s. Being an adult does not mean you are free of flaws and you do not make mistakes, it means that you know who you are. We are all still growing and learning, but if you know who you are, you are able to be responsible and powerful in your decision making processes.

There can be no power playing when a mature business enters into a relationship with a mature NPO. The two are partners. One may be the “breadwinner” the other is the “helpmeet”, the goal is the extension of the gospel through giving dignity to those in need, to the helpless and the hopeless of our time.  The breadwinner is created for the purpose of funding; the helpmeet is created with the purpose of meeting the need but they both have the same ultimate goal in the relationship.

Trust, they say, is earned, but there are definitely some who are more trustworthy. A mature business and NPO are much easier to trust – communication seems easier, there is no need to hide or blame as there is active growing in both.  Both develop together in a way that is healthy and beautiful and they are better at what they do because of their relationship with each other.  M&E flows freely when it comes from a mature helpmeet.  It is a minor technicality versus the focus of their effort.

What they achieve together is always way more than what each would have done on their own.  If, in Cave Baby, the mom had painted with her baby, the artwork would have been enjoyable to both and would be enriched by the experience. Let us look at who and what we are, stay focused on those things, and build partnerships that will last a lifetime as we tackle the issues that we are faced with together.

This is a blog Linda Morrison wrote for Nation Builder, after their In Good Company Conference last month.  It is a commentary on one of the sessions held there and will be worth your while reading some of the other posts around the session as well as their marriage analogy in order to fully grasp what has been said here. http://www.proudnationbuilder.co.za/single-post/2017/09/15/It%E2%80%99s-time-we-grew-up

Considering myself a Volunteer…

VOLUNTEERISM: Part 1

There is a certain amount of joy that comes from giving.  Whether it is financially or of your time and effort.  When we invest in someone and they succeed there is a deep feeling of satisfaction that comes over us.  On the other hand, when we invest and they do not succeed we get angry and hurt and it often ruins us from trying again.  I want to encourage these people to try again, and do it wisely.  The beauty of living in South Africa in a time such as this is we have plenty opportunity to engage and bring about positive change.  If every one of us saw the opportunity to be a community changer in some small way, we would definitely see a society that the world would look towards for guidance.

Working in We are Durban has given me plenty of opportunity to work with volunteers.  I have seen pitfalls and victories and I would like to share some guidance to make your volunteer experience beneficial for all parties involved; you, the beneficiaries and the organisation you partner with.

Before you engage do some soul searching.  Ask yourself the following questions and be honest with your answers;

  • Why do I want to volunteer? It may be that you want to give back to society, or you have some spare time to fill, you may be lonely and want to meet other people, you may think you are so fantastic at everything you do so you could solve the problems that everyone is having, or you are being forced to by work or school, there might be any number of reasons. Be aware that whatever your reason for volunteering is, it will come out in the quality of service you offer and the relationships you form there.
  • How much time do I have to give? This is important to know upfront otherwise you or someone is going be disappointed and struggle with you. Is it one hour a week, a morning, a month or is it full time, be clear.
  • What do you have to give? Everyone has talents and abilities. Sometime these are just what the organisation needs and sometimes they just need an extra responsible person around.  One of the best ways you can serve a need is by knowing what you have to offer up front and essentially telling the organisation you want to come in and offer this or that service and these will be the benefits of that.  In a way that will not drain the organisation and will not require the organisation to raise funds to cover you.
  • Am I able to be consistent? There is a reason you go into work every day, your employer needs a job done.  If you volunteer you will be given a task that needs to be done, if you are inconsistent or unreliable you will be given tasks that do not actually matter.  This will be demoralising and you will eventually stop.
  • What would I like to see changed in the world? We are all wired differently, some of us love children, some of us are angry with human trafficking or prostitution, some have the grace to bring some dignity to the homeless person and others wish drugs had a face so that they could punch it… there are so many issues that could be tackled. What does your heart bleed for? If I cannot post a picture of me doing this on social media would I still want to do it? Do this thing and it will make your work you do in that field so much sweeter, your victories greater and your asks of others way easier.
  • Am I a starter, a worker or a finisher? Most people are naturally one of these. If you realise what part in the process you best fit, you can suggest to the organisation that this is where you would best serve.  I know for me I like to start things, give a vision and a system and let someone else finish it.  It is hard for me to maintain my energy and focus to the end, but when it is complete I get very excited.

Volunteering should be an extension of who you are.  It should be natural and freeing and not something in which you have to study to fill a position.  If you are volunteering out of your capacity, you will find it difficult and a slog and it you will eventually quit. You are a solution to an organisation’s problem, you need to be true to who you are to fill their need.  Take the time to know you, before you try to fix someone else.

Written by: Linda Morrison

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June Volunteer Induction

One of We are Durban’s goals for 2017 is to link more qualified professionals with heads of NPO’s to help encourage and develop their organisations to reach their full potential.  Regular conferences are hosted for Durban organisations and they are given the opportunity to request assistance in areas they believe are most pertinent for them and their continued success.  From the briefs received we are then able to connect a volunteer with them.

 

The latest Volunteer Induction evening was held on Monday, 12th June, at Olive Tree Church.  This was our second one this year, with our first batch of volunteers already impacting Durban. The aim of the event is to provide as much information as possible regarding the volunteering process and provide an opportunity to for interested individuals to see which organisation they feel most connected with.  Over 30 prospective volunteers attended the informative evening of how their involvement could make an impact within Durban’s NPO’s.

 

Information was provided on the various organisations requesting assistance and their specific need.  The most requested are for qualified marketers, financial advisors, legal consultants, business strategists and human resource agents.

 

Volunteers spent the evening learning about how to volunteer in a way that helps and not hurts, and the parameters in which a We are Durban volunteer serves.

 

At the end of the presentation there was an opportunity to sign up to an organisation, but the beauty of the induction evening was that no commitment was expected.  Some signed up immediately, others wanted to go home and think about it and others felt that this wasn’t what they expected and would prefer to donate their time in another capacity.

 

The evening was a success and we thank all those involved in setting up, serving and most importantly you, the enthusiastic volunteers, for attending and wanting to be a part of making Durban better, together.

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On Target

Our second NPO Conference was hosted on 26 May 2017, with a great success. Forty different NPO’s from the Durban area came together for a day of mutual learning and networking around the topic of Marketing.  The conference was TARGET themed, creating an environment which helped the NPO leaders to start figuring out what their own “targets” are in their fundraising efforts.

We were fortunate to hear from actual donors; Norman Dorkin (who gives of his personal money into NPO efforts), David Gould (a director of three companies who give into registered PBO’s), and Kudzai Mqingwana (the CSI Manager for Sibaya Development Trust).  They shed light on what they donate toward, how you can attract their funding and what they want in return.

Other insightful speakers offered their expertise in the field of marketing.  Mia Ludick delivered a great introduction setting us up for thinking about our different targets.  Yasmin Kathoria from Innate Motion delved deeper into where companies, and especially fortune 500 companies, are going with their marketing strategies and what marketing is going to look like in five years.  This creates great opportunities for NPO’s to present campaigns and gain funding from these companies. Natalie Hopkins, Large Architects Marketing manager, and Michelle Govender, Bright Spark Communications founder, spent the most part of the afternoon attempting the mammoth task of sharing the basics of marketing so that the NPO’s could pick their next approach.

All-in-all the day was well received and we have had many organisations send their letters of appreciation.  A big thank you to our sponsors who made the day a success, Style Eyes of California and VUM.  We really appreciate what your companies are doing in the effort to make Durban all it is meant to be! 

Our next conference will be mid-August and focusing on the Organisational Structure and Administration aspects.  Sadly, in our rush of service delivery we forget the importance of our behind the scenes work and this inhibits our ability to attract great long term partners. We hope this conference will shed some light on simple, effective ways of making sure you achieve sustainability.

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Together Towards Tomorrow

On Friday, 11 November 2016, We are Durban partnered with 10 organisations from Durban to present the Together Towards Tomorrow conference.  The heart behind the conference was to bring hope and life to the heads of organisations that Durban desperately needs to function to capacity.  We have so much need in Durban but we also have the organisations and infrastructure in place to deal with that need.  Capacity needs to be built within the organisations so that more people benefit from their services.

In the 6 years of We are Durban serving the servants of Durban a pattern has developed in what the NPO’s have been asking for assistance in.  We decided that the best way we can serve these NPO heads was to bring them together and input into their lives through professional culture shifters.  These professionals were the very talented Simon Kozlowski (thirtyseven), Mthoko Shange (Imbizo Foundation) and Abonga Nkwelo (Apple Tree Culture Catalysts) who spoke into Organisational Structure, The Courage to take my organisation forward and Brand Identity respectively.

We had filmed case studies of organisations getting these topics right.  These examples were iThemba Lethu, Buyisithemba and uMinathi.  We also allowed the audience to ask tough questions of all these people and also some very large and well known organisations, namely: LIV-Village, Hillcrest Aids Centre, and Domino Business.  To encourage making the learning personal, we held table discussions which were facilitated by volunteer Social Workers arranged by UNISA’s Bright Site (who place social work students in the final year of their studies).

76 people attended representing in excess of 50 organisations.

The event was manned by volunteers and co-ordinated by Jet Events and Teraza Blaire.  A big thank you to our Amashova team whose sponsorships went towards this event and to Style Eyes for the donation that paid for half of the costs!

We look forward to our next one, as this was, from all the feedback we received, a great success!

Heritage Day Potjie Competition

We Are Durban held their annual Potjie Competition on Heritage Day, 24the September. The competition was hosted in partnership with Buyisithemba GD  community Development, a Non-Profit Organisation in KwaMashu, Durban.

 

Teams started arriving from 08:00 and it wasn’t long before gazebos were up, deck chairs were out and 21 potjies were on the go all over the venue.

 

There was a festive atmosphere as friends, family and colleagues all joined in celebrating Heritage Day and experienced a taste of township life while building relationships with the local community.

 

During the event we were privileged to be entertained with some dancing from the children of the community.

 

Whilst the judges were deliberating  over  which potjie was the winner of the competition, we lined up the potjies and started serving the food to the eagerly awaiting local community.

 

There was more than enough for everyone, we estimated that approximately 250 people were fed.

 

Once the judges had completed their task and all the scores collated the winner was announced.  Well done to the defending champion, Warren Gedye and his team for taking first prize again this year.

 

A big thank you to all our participants, volunteers and sponsors for making this event a great success.

To love a heroin addict

I have been meeting with a person who is homeless and a heroin addict for the past 3 months, twice a week, every week.  The man is my cousin.  He is 28 years old and either sleeps on the streets or in a shelter when he can afford it.  My purpose in meeting with him is to write his story to try to find some real solutions to this problem our beautiful city is facing.

This is a real problem.  We only have about 34 people injecting heroin in Central Durban, but a large percentage of our homeless community are smoking it – either as heroin or woonga.  It is a problem.  The problem affects us deeply.  Even if we choose to ignore it, it will continue to be there.  Ignoring these people is so much of the problem.  They need love, and lots of it.  I asked my cousin to describe what it feels like to be high.  His answer shocked me.  I was expecting that it made him forget his problems, that it probably gave him some visions, took away the pain.  I never expected his true answer.  He said; “it feels like someone has placed a warm coal inside of you and you feel loved and accepted”. You see my cousin comes from a broken home, parents divorced when he was 5, mom battled cancer and died when he was 11, dad was not a factor and he was dumped from one family to the next.  I am not excusing his choices, but if this is a way he can feel loved, can we as society really blame him? Haven’t we all done crazy things just to feel loved?

Sadly, that sensation does not last.  Sadly, as you build a tolerance to the drug you reach a point where you no longer get that sensation and all you are doing is self-medicating to prevent withdrawal. Oh, and withdrawal is bad! Imagine the worst possible stomach bug but lasting three weeks with intense muscular pain.  Literally bile pouring out of you. And you feel abandoned and lonely and unloved.  And the drug is whispering to you, “all you need is a little shot and you will feel so much better, nobody will know.” I spoke to a guy yesterday who has been clean for 18 years and he said he still hears that voice every now and then.  Then you get the other side where they push the envelope a bit far and overdose.  We lost a 23 year old mom this last week, on Mahatma Gandhi Rd. Apparently they know when it has happened the minute they inject.  There is no high, just intense pain, heat and blackness.  If there is too much they don’t wake up.  A real waste of a life.

Many of these addicts are really functional.  You have probably been served by one at a restaurant and never even realised it. Inevitably they get greedy.  They need more drug and they will do anything to get it. So they end up stealing, and they lose their jobs.  This is where life becomes dangerous for them and society, this is where we need to engage and not disengage.

On the streets they have three choices to earn money to pay for their drugs.  The first is the hustle.  This usually goes on the line of “I am not a drug addict. I have landed on the streets due to some misfortune and need shelter money or money for food.” “Or I am selling this object to raise shelter money or support my baby”.  We have all heard the story. Sometimes we give to get rid of the person, sometimes out of guilt, sometimes out of religious obligation, and sometimes because we believe their story and genuinely want to help them. But the hustle works.  They earn between R100 and R1500 a day doing this, depending on the day and the season.  The second is the route many of the girl’s land up taking, prostitution.  Either online sales, manning a street corner or working a strip.  Almost all of them land up being used by the drug lords.  Handing over every cent made so that they can get their next fix or keep a roof over their head. The third option is crime. Muggings, shoplifting, and theft out of motor vehicles are the most common, but it lands them up in a cycle of going in and out of prison and mixing with worse and worse people.

What is the solution?  To be honest, I do not know.  What I do know is that these people are hugely vulnerable.  They need love and to be shown that people care. Not by giving them stuff, those things are likely to be sold to buy more drugs, but by engaging the individuals. Until they choose to make the decision for themselves that they no longer want that lifestyle there is no point in offering them a way out. If the choice is not theirs, they will return to the lifestyle the first opportunity they have.  If the choice is not truly theirs they will resent you for “helping”.  Only they can answer the question if they are ready to change.  They may have told you they are, but it really was another hustle, and they will return the minute the pain strikes.  On the streets they need just enough money to self-medicate.  They are okay to not sleep in a shelter, to go without food as long as they do not go into withdrawal.  But that is the base. If no one ever gives we are going to land up with a crime situation. It is such a precarious space.  You do not want to give because you are fuelling an addiction, but if you do not give where will they find the money for the heroin?  They will make sure they have it.  The beauty of the don’t give campaigns is that it has been effective.  The addicts have been forced to take less, but the minute they “hit a luck” they are at risk of overdosing.

Once the addict decides that he wants to give up he has a major problem.  If he doesn’t have a wealthy family that can pay for a fancy rehabilitation facility that offers detoxing there are not many options. Most addicts have burnt that bridge long ago. The government hospitals will not take them.  These people need constant support and attention in this space – they cannot do it on the street.  This situation is creating another barrier to them being healed.  I applaud the efforts of the Denis Hurley Centre and Hope 4 All in investigating and initiating efforts to start free facilities.  Please people, get behind them.  Our City needs these services.

I am busy writing my cousin’s full story and we hope that it will help pre-teens, teens, young adults and families make wise choices around drugs.  We hope that it could prevent even one person landing up in the same situation.  These are people who are filling a need to be loved with something that ends up destroying their potential to be loved.

Mandela Day Market

On Saturday, 16 July 2016, we at our offices in Windermere to celebrate Mandela Day.  We asked the community to get involved by either donating their good quality second hand clothes, or books, bake something delicious and donate that, volunteer time to sort, set up or sell on the day.  Huge piles of clothes were donated.  We had plenty of baked goods and fudge for those with a sweet tooth. There was coffee, bacon and egg rolls and homemade lemonade to keep people happy and full.  Twelve other regular market stalls were booked to sell their own wares on the day, and there was even a fun photobooth.  A raffle was held where there was a night stay in an executive suite at the Suncoast Towers, including breakfast and a R500 voucher for dinner sponsored by Tsogo Sun, which Bruce Jackson won, much to his delight.  The money raised from the day will be going towards a project we are working on with the municipality to supply a new pre-primary school facility for the children in the Dalton Heights area.  Just under R15,000.00 was raised.  A big thank you goes out to all who supported us on the day.

Cupboards for Bridges of Hope for Children

Bridges of Hope for Children gives a home to vulnerable children in foster care.  Sharon who run’s it has made a real home for the children in her care including 2 special needs boys.  They recently moved from the Midland’s to Cato Ridge and have rented a very rundown farm.  The previous tenants had stripped the place of plumbing and electrics and left it in a horrendous situation.

A group of friends have assisted by sorting out, and giving a face-lift to the kids playroom, art room and schoolroom as well as raising R15,000.00 from EBH which will go a long way to assist the upgrades.

WE are Durban has been donated plenty kitchen cupboard doors which allowed us the opportunity to spend time with the family and assist in making their kitchen functional.  With the assistance of a team of volunteers and intern we have been able to make a difference there.  Plenty more needs doing but little by little a change can be made.  A big thanks to Chris Lyle, Chris Gill and our interns for the hard work they put in.  We need to return soon to complete more work.

Grace aid is sending a electrician to rewire the building and a team of volunteers to clear out the garden on the 16 July.

This project is really showing the power of working together to assist those in need.