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CATCHING LIGHT- by Bukelwa Nzimande- South Africa

During an intense two-week International Sustainability School fellowship programme in Nepal, I had the privilege of sitting under the teachings of  inspiring and resourceful men and women, both in a formal and informal context.  Every single one of them a change-maker, ground-shaker and innovator in their immediate space. From social “behavioural change igniters” and campaigners, to grounded community leaders, small-scale farmers and social entrepreneurs, breaking grounds and changing the narrative in their local spaces, by finding solutions and answers to complex issues in their country. The commitment and optimism they carried, partnered with their positive wiring and resilience to push forward and “trek” unchartered grounds, was both encouraging and contagious.

“There is an amazingly functional and sustainable life outside and beyond our common spaces from which we can go to draw out inspiration”

During these charging sessions, and amidst intense moments of introspection and challenge, I realised that every country whether developed, developing or under-developed has these kinds of people. Individuals who are ambassadors of positive change and trailblazers for new and sometimes unconventional ideas. These sessions also confirmed for me, that everyone has the potential to do ‘outstanding things’ and that ‘outstanding things’require commitment, dedication and patience.

Beyond my personal development journey and the numerous discoveries I made during this trip, I also found a new sense of appreciation and respect for my people, upon the realisation that they too definitely have resources and solutions to contribute towards our nation’s sustainable future. As a matter of fact, there are people already doing amazing things within the sustainability, development and social justice space. I was again after a long apathetic season encouraged to sow into the resource and “strength-force” of my own country, and also to intentionally begin seeking out similarly aligned fellows and individual in South Africa to learn and grow from. From small-scale organic farmers in the midlands to the brainchild of a struggling yet resilient social entrepreneur fighting a whirlwind of challenges in their immediate space. Making moves and waves for the greater good and benefit of others and our planet.

Changemakers begin with choosing to be constantly inspired and mobilised beyond themselves to be responsible citizens and arrows of creatively relevant solutions. They stand in solidarity, joining hands with those who have long been fighting social, economic and environmental injustices and forms of inequality by contributing towards finding short and long-term sustainable solutions, particularly focusing on mitigating and buffering the impacts felt by the most vulnerable groups and people in our communities. Yes, the challenges which plague South Africa may be overwhelmingly daunting without reminders and sign posts of the goals we together seek to attain. But working together in ploughing the immediate land we find ourselves in, and realising that there are more people working towards the same visions and goals will see us rising above the paralysis and even seeing an impact and eventually change. Connectedness says, no matter where you are in the ocean, a ripple in the deep pacific will touch you…eventually.

Awareness, Connectedness, Consistency and Patience: my four magic words.

Awareness: As my perception of meaning and success evolve and my naivety lessens, I’m most certain now that our growth and learning processes take time, and have no upper limits, and that everything or person we encounter presents an opportunity of learning. We must therefore seize these endless opportunities of learning, and curiously inquire beyond our exposure. Connectedness: We certainly grow in community and thrive upon exposure to different environments and unfamiliar rhythms. We find our magic in unknown spaces. We should never shy from striking meaningful conversations with old men and women carrying depths of wisdom and knowledge or meeting new and inspiring 21st-century critical thinking individuals. Inquiring and engaging the young and old seeking to marry the beauty of the different worlds. Lastly, lets learn beyond our books, interests and desks and seek exchange opportunities outside our own small circles and continue to look outwards and upwards…and be intentional in developing ourselves. Consistency and Patience: Starting from the bottom and working upwards is never quick nor easy…and sometimes the challenge only ends when we get to the top. Things that are worthwhile take time and effort and we need to be prepared to pay our dues.

As a young girl, I had the privilege…or curse of having to sit and guard the process of refilling a water storage tank which once full, would be our family’s precious source of sustenance for months. Some of these tanks can have a carrying capacity of up to 20 000 Litres, and sitting and waiting for slow trickling water to make its way out of a tap, traverse upwards through a thin garden hose to enter the tank was certainly no fun. More so, when the neighbourhood kids were carelessly playing and singing merry tunes down the road having more fun than when you were around. I recall these moments because although basic, they taught me numerous life lessons like the fact that: most, if not all essential processes take time and require long periods of waiting while listening to never-ending tunes of monotony and ploughing the same grounds, sometimes till the hoe gets blunt. It’s a rather simple analogy, but I think its true what they say about the application of simple strokes and basic principles when solving challenges of varying complexities.

Bukelwa Nzimande

South Africa

This blog was taken from- https://kelwamindfields.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/catching-light.