TFT On A Different Note By Michael Palmer (South Africa)

My name is Michael Palmer 23 years old from Bredasdorp, South Africa. I did the Training for Transformation (TFT) course in 2017/2018. Two years later I moved to Cape Town for better opportunities. I am currently working for Young Men Christian Association (YMCA)/ Cape flats (a sandy stretch of land on the outskirts of Cape Town where people of color were forcibly moved to by the Group Areas Act during Apartheid) in Mitchell’s Plain, working with ex – gangsters, drug addicts and homeless people. We work with them for a period of six months during which they stay on our premises at the Rotary Camp in Strandfontein. I am also making music for a living where I go to the hotspot areas – known for gangsterism and rap about social ills in our communities.

Sharing My Talents And Skills

After I did the TFT course, I went back to my community where I faced many challenges in my organization. I started to do fundraisers like talent shows to generate money and do projects at work and in my community using the tools and skills I gained at TFT. At work I used the case clinic from Organisational Development where I facilitated a consultation process to address some differences amongst my colleagues. However I cannot say that I had changed at that time. I was still drinking and smoking when I went home but I had a higher level of thinking as the week on spirituality had a big impact on me. Today I am a man of God, no more drinking and smoking for me. I am working with various churches; gospel rapping for the youth and telling stories of the Cape Flats. I use my talent as a tool to connect and bring people together and then I give motivational speeches and talk about gender-based violence and how the government and other structures contribute to our corrupted mindsets. People positively respond to my music. I was rapping in a hotspot area in Cape Town, when someone posted a video of me that was viewed by 350 000 people and still going, more than 12 000 shares and lots of positive comments.

New Organization, New Career

In Cape Town I was introduced to an organization called YMCA based in Mitchell’s Plain. They facilitate a process of rehabilitation for gangsters, addicts and homeless people and prepare them for a new life after the six-month program. They are helped with training and qualifications, employment and sometimes even a learner’s license to start their new journeys. I co – facilitate life skills and gender workshops for them and I introduced them to Adult and Popular Education My colleagues at YMCA say that this method is much more effective than what they used to do. People engage more, talk freely and get along better in their respective groups. From their engagements you can see they have a better understanding of the world and a deeper level of thinking at the end of the program.

Covid-19 and Other Challenges

With Covid-19 it became difficult to have events or travel. In TFT I learned that there are always options to explore so I ensured that I at least got other contract work to ensure that I had an income. Liaising with different organizations, I was introduced to more communities on the Cape Flats. Coming from a small town, I am used to crime and violence on weekends. Here it is an everyday occurrence – gangsterism, gun violence and extreme abuse. Sometimes we do awareness campaigns in areas where people were murdered the previous day and you can feel something is not right here. It is a lot to deal with. Fortunately we have check-ins on Mondays and Fridays where I get a chance to talk about how I feel. I also express my emotions by writing and putting them in my songs.

Thank You TFT!

I am moving forward with the experiences, knowledge, and theories I learned at TFT. I am glad that I could be part of this course to implement it in our poorer communities. TFT changed my thinking or let me say TFT changed my life. Thank you to all the facilitators that invested their knowledge in me because it is helpful and an amazing journey.