On the first day of the program, 22 people arrived. The group was a diverse group ranging in age from a 16-year-old young lady to mothers and grandmothers in their 60’s eager to get started and find out what we are all about. There was an air of anticipation in the room. Members of the original Iziko Labahlali group from August in 2010 had referred a number of the group in. They were aware of what the first group and individuals had already accomplished and were currently doing.
We started our day with the Community Circle, all facing each other in a circle as each person introduced themselves a little nervously. Two or three people in the group knew each other but for the most part they were all new to each other. Facilitating this session with me were Lionel and Nini, both graduates of the original session. Their confidence and sense of calm helped settled the new members as we described the journey we would embark on over the course of the next four days.
We began our journey getting to know each other, learning little facts about each other. The activities are designed to establish a mindset from which we can all communicate and grow from as we journey through Iziko Labahlali
together.We start the day in small groups and then progress, combining the groups into larger and larger groups ultimately having all of the participants back in the Community Circle sharing and learning about each person. The laughter and excitement that comes from within spurs the groups on and they quickly create new relationships. They lower their guards and begin trusting each of the other people a little more as the sharing continues.
We then moved into the initial stages of the River of Life, drawing a picture of our lives based on whom we had grown and become through our life’s journey and experiences. What is always so remarkable to me is how quickly the individuals bond and support each other. It surprises each of them too, that they can collaborate and support each after such a short time together. The key understanding and realization being that this is a personal, real and focused time with each other.
We ended our first day with a sense of achievement, unity and hope. The walls are adorned with passionate artwork of real journeys and our hearts are full from the stories and experiences shared. There is a real inquisitiveness as we say good evening and bid each other well until the morning. What if…?
The group left for home with new friends and a sense of belonging. Belonging to their new My Arms Wide Open family.
Watch for our next posting Iziko Labahlali 2 – Day 2