Exploring Meaningful Transformation
“ Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
IseeU Hosts 2nd Annual “Connect Event”
After months of planning and preparation, the day had arrived – our second IseeU Connect Event. Generously sponsored by a grand old lady and icon in our city: The Vineyard Hotel; we were ready to receive our valued guests and much-anticipated speakers*.
The gathering of diverse communities and different professions had IseeU as the common thread. These were our friends, our partners, our cheerleaders, supporters and our mentees. Women who straddle the vastly different communities we live in, and those we work in.
All gathered on this sunny morning in Women’s Month to acknowledge the hard work of our mentees and to explore the somewhat thorny theme of “Meaningful Transformation”.
Transformation as a concept, seems to have lost its meaning and impact, and by some is regarded with suspicion and fatigue.
This is in part due to ill-conceived calls for “Radical Transformation” by politicians, as well as many South Africans not seeing the on-going need for it…it’s been 20 years after all”.
The existence of IseeU, and many other organisations like ours, bears witness to the need for transformation. An important aim of our Connect event was to create the space for women from diverse backgrounds to engage with the responsibility we all carry; to be involved in this weighty work. Whilst the work of transformation is never easy, it certainly is rewarding and the end product is beautiful. This was the message we wanted to convey.
The tone for the morning was set by a powerful presentation of some of our mentees’ stories. Beautifully captured by a professional photographer in a narrated slideshow. This presentation was the result of a photographic workshop our mentees attended. The photographic workshop is an example of a key component of our programme; explore. By providing access to opportunities they are not ordinarily exposed to, we hope to inspire our mentees to explore possibilities beyond their current frame of reference.
A common thread that ran through the morning was the reassurance that it does not require much to touch the life of another. Not everyone needs to start an organisation to ignite a wave of transformation. It all starts with“seeing”, as we were informed by our keynote speaker, Nadine Bowers-Du Toit.
Transformation starts with us looking into the mirror and seeing ourselves. Recognising what we have, and where we are at; acknowledging what we may need. We were urged to not stall at this stage because it is all too easy to fixate on our shortcomings and conclude that we have little to give.
A striking quote by John Mark Green reminded us: “Beautiful are those whose brokenness gives birth to transformation and wisdom”. Having looked into the mirror, we were then encouraged to look around and see the other; the one who will benefit from our skills, resources and networks.
Once we have seen, it is time to move on to the next step in the process of Transformation – to imagine…to dream of a different reality for those in our circle of influence, our community, our country. But we cannot leave it at dreaming we were cautioned; at some point we have to act. We have to get our hands dirty so to speak. Like the brave women who in 1956 marched for a cause they believed in, we must act to turn our dreams into reality.
Sometimes “acting” involves speaking out on behalf of those who are not heard. Holding leaders accountable to their public duty. This was the message that emerged with crisp clarity from our interview with Judith February. Political transformation is not an arena many feel comfortable participating in. In this era where politics primarily refers to “party politics”, we would rather leave this to the politicians. But if one adopts a slightly different definition of politics, the original meaning dating back to classical times provides a more helpful perspective; that of “good citizenship”.
In this construct it becomes the responsibility of ordinary citizens to promote the good of all; to seek justice for all. Instead of pointing fingers: “What are politicians, government, corporates, or the wealthy doing about social justice?” We take collective responsibility and ask: “How can I play a role in civic society for the good of all?” “How can I be a good citizen?” Powerful questions, which demand careful consideration.
After some heavy head and heart work, we were ready to do some exploring of a different kind. Whilst makeup should not have “transformation” as its goal, it is a powerful way to enhance your unique beauty that already exists. Two lucky guests participated in a live demo by professional makeup artists and we all benefitted from the clever tips.
The dream we had for this event was to inspire and empower ordinary women to create opportunities for transformation in their circles of influence. We hope we have achieved this and look forward to sharing their stories of transformation and growth with you.
* Our speaker line-up was impressive – a testimony to the generosity of spirit they all embody:
1. Dr Nadine Bowers-Du Toit, Associate Professor in the Department of Theology & Development at the University of Stellenbosch, and a regular speaker on international platforms.
2. Judith February, Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Security Studies, and a renowned political analyst and commentator.
3. Kelsey Lewin, Grade 11 IseeU Mentee at Cathkin High School, who showed incredible courage in sharing her story with women she only knew through her connection with IseeU.
4. Cheryl Parker, sought after make-up artist, ably assisted by Jené Thomas.
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