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Over the start of this year, Amava’s team went through a surprisingly challenging journey of personal and collective visioning with Michele Twomey. Throughout the experience, Michele guided us in reflection on our goals, boundaries, and where we (personally and as Amava Oluntu) fit in with our system.

Every Wednesday, we met to discuss our thoughts and tasks given to us during the previous week. It was an invaluable way to hear the opinions of our team members, how we viewed each other and ourselves, and it even allowed for constructive friction to take place.

We ended off our gatherings surrounded by the gentle energy of fynbos in the Silvermine Nature Reserve. It was a beautiful conclusion to our sessions with Michele. Snacking on the mountainside while taking in everyone’s individual sentiments was a perfect way to round it off.

Although, it seemed that we couldn’t stay away from Silvermine. The team met up once more to discuss our ten-year goals as we meandered around the Silvermine dam. It was there that each member described their experience of the journey and what it meant to them. Below are the opinions shared by each person.

Amava Oluntu core team sitting under a rock talking at Silvermine.

The core team spent a morning at Silvermine, discussing our personal visioning and opinions on the process.

I really enjoyed the whole process. It wasn’t just a once-off workshop, it was a carefully curated time where Michele engaged with us and helped us process our thoughts and think about our personal interests and visions. It helped me clarify my own milestones for this year and also beyond that. It was done in a very gentle way. I really enjoyed the last session when we shared our visions; that was quite deep for me because it helped me understand the visions and intentions of my team. – Teresa Boulle

Teresa sitting on a rock at silvermine looking into the distance.

Teresa thinking about her personal vision.

For me, the sessions were good, but there was a time when I felt like I’m repeating some stuff every now and then. The conversation was kind of around just one topic. For me, it was kind of hard because when I have to write something down, I’ve been asked to do something; but then it’s related to something I did a few weeks ago – and now I’m doing it again. So, then I’m like, “Okay, what then? We will do this, and there’s talk of having more sessions…Okay, what else are we going to do in those sessions?” So, I was kind of frustrated. But once I started writing, finished it, and shared it, it didn’t feel that way. Instead, when I go home, I tend to think more and more of the ways of improving my goals or my plans on what I just spoke about. It took some time for me to find the reason or positive side of what we were been doing. – Elona Mteto

Amava Oluntu core team sitting on the banks of silvermine dam discussing.

Amava’s core team at the Silvermine Dam, chatting about our 10-year plans.

For me, it was really, really, really helpful. For many reasons. One is, we get so busy, and then we often forget to stop and take stock of what we’re doing. It’s not something you prioritise often enough, keeping your vision very crisp and clear in front of you, especially in the current state of the world. It feels like survival a lot of the time. You’re just constantly responding to things that are happening around you. At the end of the day, you don’t have much time or energy left to think about the big picture. So, it was super helpful to have someone encourage you to take the time to do that, to stop and actually think about that. Also, the way that she did it, where it wasn’t like, “now let’s all sit down and talk about our vision”, but she actually gently forced us to take the proper time to do it. Those exercises that we did where we had to go into nature and sit and reflect and write, when I read the first one I was like, “Geeze man, this is going to take hours. How am I supposed to do this before Wednesday?” But how important that is, and how we actually need people outside of our centre to help us to see that and to acknowledge the importance of doing that. It’s that thing where you can’t see the woods for the trees, so we never see ourselves as individuals. I guess that also applies as an entity or an organisation; we can never see ourselves. We’re so in it, we can’t see it. So, to have someone on the outside who can see you and help you to see yourselves, for me that was very helpful.

There’s always this confusion of identity – am I Amava or am I Theresa? And these conflicts come up all the time, especially when you start engaging with other entities and individuals. Identities get created when you work inside of an entity. This process really helped to differentiate between the two and also see the commonality between the two. What are my personal goals and visions, and what do I envision for Amava? While they’re very similar and there’s a lot of overlap, I think it was really important to recognise that they are two different things and at the end of the day I think we are all Amava, but none of us individually are Amava. We are ourselves. We’re not Amava, we’re individuals. Amava is its own entity that we work within. And this process has been helpful to show that. – Theresa Wigley

Theresa's visual representation of her visioning process.

Theresa’s visual description of the system she is a part of at Amava. 

I think it was great just to have someone who can give us a space to be able to speak, and also hear the visioning’s of the team. It was good. In terms of me personally, when you ask questions like you’re interrogating me, I may react to it. I was not feeling good about it. But the purpose of it was good, which was to be able to build this team and work well together. So, I’m learning to do this, to let my emotions down. And to be able to give someone who’s speaking to me the chance to be able to say something and then I don’t take it too personally, or don’t take offense to someone who is saying something to me. – Sandile Fanana

Personally, I thought it was very difficult. I thought going into it, I know my goals and I know what I want to do, but when it actually came to putting pen to paper it gets very difficult to convey your goals and your thoughts and what you’re thinking. So, it was a good kind of difficult; it was a challenge. During the process, I was quite frustrated. But afterward, talking about it with everyone was really nice, because I could share my thoughts, get some feedback, and also listen to everyone else’s opinions, their limits and their boundaries, their goals, and how they see themselves. That was really lovely.

To end, I really appreciated the sentiment as shared by Theresa Wigley concerning the work-life balance in that places of work should not draw everything out of you. Instead, it should work both ways in where you get something in return.

“Hearing everyone’s individual visions and seeing how the Amava collective vision can support everyone’s individual vision was very helpful because it reaffirms that it can work like that; we each use the system to get where we each want to go. It’s not that we have to sacrifice our own vision to work towards a collective vision, but that the collective vision itself supports where everyone wants to go individually.”

Joanne du Randt

After earning her Postgrad in Public Health, Joanne was thrilled to join Amava Oluntu as a Public Health intern to explore her passion for health and social equality.