Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Learners sharing stories
April 2013 - Eastern Cape

JBay - It is natural to associate a place like Jeffreys Bay as a laid-back holiday town.  The waves are plentiful; people relaxed...a small community closely knit in peaceful bliss.
Sadly though, as we have many times (re)discovered: Loss and life-changing events does not discriminate when it comes to financial status, location, religion or race. Loss affects us all - at some stage in our lives.

It is for this very reason that we as facingUP Support Services - fUSS for short - make a fUSS about equipping our young people and those who spend the most time with them, the teachers, with knowledge and skills to not only cope when facing a life-changing event, but also support and enable them to grow stronger and more resilient through the process. 

Educators during EAT Session

During the past three weeks of presenting Emotional Awareness Training (EAT) sessions with Educators in various schools in the Eastern Cape, we have realised that Educators who are (still) struggling to terms with negative life-changing events in their own lives, often find it very difficult to relate to learners who might have a similar loss in their lives. "Whenever Justin is sad in class, I know it is because of his mother who is no longer there.  But what do I say to him? I'm still trying to figure out how I'm feeling..." said an Educator who recently loss her mother.

In most cases, we have found that, when assisting young people through the process of growing through a challenging time in their lives, it's not as much a matter of "knowing what to say", but rather knowing how to listen.  If you can 'hear' the pain in the story someone is telling you, then your response to that emotion will be a natural, genuine response.  'Giving advice' might feel like the right thing to do, however, the best thing to do is to listen and think how you would have felt in that situation.  Should you feel that you can share a little bit of encouragement from your own life and own journey through a similar experience, then share your encouragement for their journey, by celebrating your own growth.

If you are currently in a position of supporting someone who is going through a challenging time in their life and would like some help as you are going through that process with them, feel free to make contact with fUSS. Through our range of partnerships in South Africa, as well as our relationship with This Way Up Youth Project (UK) we'd be happy to help!