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Relocating….

December 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for following me.

Please note that due to some formatting issues that I have been having, I have now relocated to http://thebook.mylifemyafrica.org

I look forward to continuing the Journey with you.

Much love and gratitude,

Philén

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There Are No Coincidences

October 23, 2012 in Chapter 1

A sneak preview into Chapter 1…

It was just after dusk, when the sun seems eager to sleep and moves quickly out of sight, that I stopped at the junction with Kloof Street. As I stared blankly at the traffic light – almost willing it to turn green – in the top left corner of my vision, a neon sign flicked on.

Café Bardeli.

From that moment forward it felt as though I was being carried along the crest of a wave – fully aware, yet not in control. The traffic light turned green, I crossed over the road, parked right below the sign, climbed the stairs and walked straight into the coffee shop.

 “Welcome to Bardeli! Table for one?”

I was greeted by a short, plump, warm and infectiously friendly girl named Carla, with dark hair, heavy makeup around her eyes, and chewed fingernails.

No, thank you. I’m actually looking for work.”

As I opened my mouth to speak, my whole story came tumbling out. In a weirdly inexplicable way, I felt as if Carla was actually waiting for me and that our meeting was a pre-arranged appointment.

 “That’s cool.” she said. “We actually need more hands on the floor. Grab a seat at the bar, have some coffee and I’ll call Andrew.”

I was enjoying both my coffee and the vibe of the place when the owner came and seated himself beside me. It was an informal affair – again feeling as if it had all been staged and that we were long-time friends – and when my coffee finished, our conversation ended and I left.

I was late for the movie and never made it to the Labia that night, but I was intentionally early the next morning for my new job.

Café Bardeli. It was more than a job. It was the light on my understanding that I am more than the sum of my thoughts, five senses, and all the information I have been selectively fed throughout my life. It was the beginning of my realisation that somewhere within a hidden and sacred space a greater force is at work – a force connecting me to a bigger story in which I am not alone.

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100 Signed Copies Available to Order

October 18, 2012 in How to Order

My Life My Africa

ORDER YOUR PERSONALLY SIGNED COPY TODAY

As a small token of my gratitude for all your support along the way, I have decided to print a limited edition of 100 copies that I will sign with a personalized message for you or whoever you wish to buy the book for.

 

The price of this First Paperback Edition is R110-00 (delivery costs will be additional and dependent on your location)

 

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please email philen@mylifemyafrica.org and supply your postal address, I will then provide you with the banking details for the book so that you can make payment to secure your signed copy.

 

THIS OFFER IS ONLY VALID FOR THE FIRST 100 COPIES OR UNTIL OUR INTERNATIONAL ONLINE DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS GO LIVE IN NOVEMBER. THEREAFTER, ALL COPIES WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE VIA THESE CHANNELS AND AT THEIR NEW PRICE.

 

I wish each of you an abundance of joy and a deep sense of peace.

With much gratitude,

Philén

 

I am the possibility of Africa releasing her voice and reclaiming her identity”

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Into The Unknown…

October 12, 2012 in Chapter 2

My Life My Africa

An excerpt from Chapter 2…

Choosing to walk an untrodden path in pursuit of Love, guided by the voice of my heart was a beautifully romantic idea until the Journey actually started and I was faced with the uncertainty of it all.

Was I going to a place with cities or was it all rural African mud huts?
Would I find electricity and running water?
Was it a peaceful place like I hoped for, or was it full of violence and corruption, like Zimbabwe?

The truth is that I had moved on a whim and was both clueless and unprepared.

What I did have though, was my trusted 25-litre backpack, a 15-year-old Swiss army knife, seven pens, 576 empty pages to journal my story in, thirteen thousand rand’s worth of traveller’s cheques and a childlike belief in an unseen Voice only I could hear.

I opened my journal and began reading, as a way to encourage myself.

 “True beauty is terror. When we find ourselves in front of something truly beautiful, then we are filled with terror; but if we are strong enough in our souls, we can rip away the veil and stare at the naked, terrible beauty in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones and then spit us out … reborn.”

Throughout my Journey, I have battled against fear, and the unknown has been home to most of it. It is the unknown that terrified me from the start, but it is also the unknown that has seduced and drawn me into the adventure, every step of the way.

In the unknown, I have feared my worst failures, yet it is within the unknown that my greatest possibilities lay waiting. Every day was a battle in my soul of whether I would resign myself to a life of safety and mediocrity, or whether I would challenge my fears and step into the possibility of a fulfilled life, where my potential was released in greater amounts. And then if I did step forward to face my fears, could I be sure that I would not fail?

I could never know unless I tried, and the unknowing is what ate at my heart, so all I could do was just keep walking…

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My Life My Africa – The Book

September 30, 2012 in Book Intro

 My Life My Africa

So it appears that I have not died and disappeared … even though my lengthy absence might have indicated otherwise. And I do need to apologise for my rudeness, because I did leave very abruptly and without any explanation.

So I am sorry.

Anyway, I hope that this post clears the air between us and gives you some insight into whats been going on, and what you can expect.

So by now, I guess you’ve seen the picture on the left… yes, that’s me walking down the road … and yes, that is my name at the bottom … and yes, that is a book cover. So that is the reason why I have been absent.

I started the Journey in April 2000, I have been working on the actual writing of the story since about 2008/2009, and it is only this year – after one heck of a learning curve – that I have reached that place where I can finally stand with a smile on my face – confident in who I am and extremely grateful for the life I have been given – to declare:

It Is Finished!

And so I am expecting the release of the first edition to be available from October 27.

There is much more for me to say … but if I say it all now then what will I write on this blog over the next few weeks? ;)

Anyway, I just wanted to update you and get you back into the loop. I will be updating you continuously from here on, directing you to my new website, giving you little snippets and teasers from the book, and trying to engage with you as honestly as I can, as we all continue striving to reclaim our identities and to release our voices.

It’s good to be back and I look forward to many chats.

Namasté

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Youth Education Through Soccer

October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

You ever notice how – when you follow the path of least resistance…
accept where you are as being exactly where you’re supposed to be…
and then apply your whole mind to what’s in front of you rather than distract yourself with thoughts of what is not…
that amazing things begin to happen…

as if we’re all inter-connected by some super-intelligence that is intent on bringing us a deep and fulfilling joy?

Check this out…

And there’s some stuff that’s not on the flyer…

  • School classes will hold not more than 15 students
  • A 60% aggregate is set for children and they will be pulled from the field of play if they are underachieving
  • The soccer academy is run by Lloyd Tuffney – a UEFA A Certified Coach – and is endorsed by Ryan Maye, the Head of Academy Analysis at West Bromwich Albion and who has previously worked with Glasgow Rangers and Chelsea Football Clubs.

This is not just Soccer – This is Youth Education through soccer!

And here’s where it all links together by that Super-Intelligence I mentioned earlier…

Lloyd Tuffney and his Education Through Soccer (E.T.S) Management Organization manages all the soccer programs at Panorama Football Club… who just happen to be our partners in Zandspruit Youth Development since the beginning of this year. And…
Lloyd has asked us for 2 of our Under-13 boys from our Zandspruit Youth Development Football Club  – Singcono Masisonke FC – to be selected for this incredible Academy that starts in 2012.

That’s right. Two Grade 8 boys from the impoverished squatter camp of Zandspruit will have the opportunity to attend a private school from next year and be trained in a professional soccer academy that has strong links with professional clubs in the U.K
And sponsorship for one of these boys has already been secured, thanks to E.T.S
We just need another R72’000-00 to secure sponsorship for the other one of our boys. And I have no doubt that funding will come because as I pay more attention, my eyes begin to see how I am a part of a much bigger work of art that is being carved and sculpted by a Super-Intelligence that operates far above my highest thought or emotion, and whose intentions are thoroughly good!

“Everything I have held in my hands has passed away, but everything I placed in God’s hands still stands today.”Martin Luther King Jr.


May you be richly blessed with eyes to see beyond your perceived ‘lack’, and into the great abundance that surrounds you on every side.

The spirit of holy in me gives honor to the spirit of holy in you.
Namasté

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I’m into the tent on Thursday for an extended fasting, meditating, cleansing, balancing, visioning and prayer session… so I’ll see you in 2 week’s time!
Adios…

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Necessary Endings

October 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

“Growth Depends on Getting Rid of the Unwanted or the Superfluous”


So I’m chopping Facebook – not completely, but hugely. My 700+ ‘friends’ are being downsized to about 50. Truth is that I struggle to build any meaningful relationship with status updates. And I struggle to invest any genuine interest into a person’s life when my brain is overwhelmed by the sheer number of ‘friends’ – in fact I find myself becoming very disconnected. And then I start using Facebook as a tool for my own agenda.

But I don’t want to be that person.

It feels so shallow to spend hours each day trying to stay ‘friends’ with people I don’t truly know. What exactly am I looking for? Am I placing my hope in my Facebook ‘relationships’? Do I rely on Facebook for my own self-image? Am I trying to market myself? What is it? Is it worth it? Is it adding value to my life – true sustainable, meaningful value? Are my relationships growing? Am I increasing in knowledge and wisdom and love?

How much of my worldview has shifted to believe that if I don’t engage well on Facebook, that I run the risk of failing in my life, my work…?

When I was a baby, I used to poop in my pants and walk on my hands and knees. Before I could move on to childhood, where I could experience the joys of walking to my own potty before pooping, I needed to completely let go of my old habits.  

The old needed to die before the new could take place.

The same goes for every area of my life.

I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my mutton curry if I did not leave behind the habit of suckling my mother’s breast.

I would not be married to my beautiful wife if I did not end my obsession over that ‘first love’.

I would not be living this new and fresh life as a servant to the poor, if I did not end my greed for money in the business world.

And so it goes on……..

“For there to be anything new, old things have to come to an end, and we have to let go of them.”

And we see this in nature – winter comes along to prune and cull so that spring follows with fresh newness. And those who look after the most beautiful and admirable gardens, spend most of their time walking around pruning and trimming, bringing about the necessary endings that must take place before the new beginnings can flourish. For example, I have this Capsicum tree in my garden that my wife bought me and it is FULL of buds and flowers at the moment. I have no doubt, and am very excited to reap the harvest of this tree and to use the fruits in many meals and pickles over the next few months…

But to reach a stage of such abundance, much pruning was needed.

And I’m feeling this in my life right now – not just with Facebook. I’m feeling a frustratingly deep desire for change. For newness and freshness. I’ve been feeling it for most of this year actually, and it has annoyed me that I haven’t been able to make the changes that are needed. And then I was nudged awake by Dr. Henry Cloud and his book “Necessary Endings” – which is where all my quotes are taken from, and on which I base this blog post. Truth is that I can expect nothing new until I bring to an end some of the old that takes up space in my life.


So I’m starting with Facebook and Twitter – to spend less time on social media so that I can invest more time into real relationship building.

And then I need to bring an end to my laptop usage at night, so that I can invest more time into my relationship with my wife.

And then I need to bring an end to my meat-gorging eating habits, so I can reduce my dangerously high risk of heart attack.

And then there’s mindless television programs, uninspiring conversations, energy-sapping relationships……..

The list goes on quite long.

Primarily because I have allowed it to. But if I want to experience change, then I need to start pruning so that new life may spring from the space of previously dead weight.

This is my life lesson that I am being drawn through. And I share it because that’s what I do – I hope that as I learn and grow that my experiences would encourage your growth. And I don’t post this as a command, but rather as an offering – maybe you relate to this, maybe you don’t. If it speaks to your heart, then may you be encouraged along your own path of Necessary Endings and New Beginnings. If it does not, please ignore it. And if you feel that there is someone you care for who would benefit from this, please would you share it.

Thank you for choosing to journey with me – I appreciate you.

With Love,
Philén

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What is Community Development – ‘Help’ vs ‘Support’

October 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

As I ponder the question “What is Community Development, and what makes it truly sustainable?” – I am constantly challenged by how small, seemingly arbitrary changes in our daily language can hugely affect our outlook on life and the Path we find ourselves walking.
Most recently I have been made aware of my use of the words “Help” and “Support”.

For much of my life I have had “Help” in my head and on my tongue…

“My life is devoted to helping the poor…”
“My organization is in the business of helping people…”
“How can I help you…?”

These have all been a central part of my identity, and many people have commended me for my selfless service to others.
Yet I have not been happy.
In fact, I’ve felt a growing discontent this year and it has been evident in my leadership, as I have felt that those I lead have not moved as easily as I had hoped for. How could that be when I was doing so much to ‘help’ them? Isn’t that what Jesus asks from us? Is this not the way of the great men and women who have walked before us – the Madiba’s, Mother Theresa’s, Ghandi’s, Luther King’s etc?…they all ‘helped’ those in need.

Or did they?

I have recently discovered otherwise, and I am both humbled and overjoyed by the correction that slammed into my consciousness through conversations with friend and Educational Kinesiologist -Susan Peel.

‘Helping’ people projects an attitude of ‘helplessness’ onto those we try to ‘help’. It sets up the idea that makes the ‘help-ee’ feel inadequate. It sets the ‘helper’ up as their savior and sends the message that without the ‘helper’, the ‘help-ee’ is unfit to progress.


Ouch!

Have I been doing that?
Sadly, I think I have.

Ouch again!

However I am so grateful that my mind has been re-directed to rather ponder the idea of ‘Support’ as an alternative…

‘Support’ acknowledges the person/people/community for who they are. ‘Support’ recognizes that whoever we meet was there before we reached them, and will remain once we have left.
‘Support’ projects the attitude that everyone is beautiful and capable just as they are, and that the ‘supporters’ role is purely to come alongside and lend a hand.
Without the ‘supporter’, life continues.
With the ‘supporter’, a few burdens are slightly less.

No more.


I like that.
I like the idea of ‘Support’ rather than ‘Help’.
I like the humility of the ‘Supporter’ over the pride of the ‘Helper’.
I like how the ‘Supporter’ empowers rather than controls.
And most of all, I like that I have been made aware of the ‘helper’ in me, so that I can remove and replace his obsolete role in my life.

Would you please forgive me for those moments in my life when I placed myself above others; when I looked on a fellow human being as being ‘less’ than me; when I placed myself on a throne as somebody’s savior; when I stole hope from a person because they believed in me rather than themselves…
would you forgive me please.
I did not know what I was doing. I honestly thought it was good to ‘help’ others, and I am truly sorry.

But I am excited at the same time.
I am excited about the changes that lie ahead.
I am excited about a new language from my mouth that empowers others.
I am excited about the positive changes I will see in my relationships
And I am so very excited about the changes that will be made to the My Life My Africa Children’s Foundation as a result – stay posted for more on this, because there will be radical and positively empowering changes.

Thank you for supporting me. May I continue to grow and be a positive voice in your life, may you learn from my mistakes and be protected from them in your own life, and may you continue to hold me accountable.

The spirit of holy in me gives honor to the spirit of holy in you.
Namasté

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One Giant Leap For Youth Soccer

September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

It started with 14 teenage and preteen boys, 1 soccer ball, a local pastor with a passion for community development, and 2 Grade-12 failures in their early twenties, who were wasting their lives away on the streets of an informal settlement.
Read on to see how INCREDIBLY this has developed since August 2009.

In 2011 the Panorama Football Club – under the leadership of Chairperson Karen Keylock – partnered with the My Life My Africa Children’s Foundation to adopt our Zandspruit Youth Development’s Under 17 Soccer Team. It was always a dream for our Youth Soccer boys to play in a league, but the costs associated with entering the league together with a lack of facilities kept this dream far from being a reality. Thanks to Panorama, in 2011 our Under 17 team was entered into the Rand Central League Football Association U-17 First Division, and they were offered Panorama facilities as their ‘Home Ground’, together with sponsored kit.

However, the great blessing was immediately overshadowed by the daunting prospect of it all. Our ‘Boys’ have only ever experienced life in the horribly neglected and impoverished community of Zandspruit. This means that most of them

  • come from broken homes
  • have access to pitiful education
  • have limited access to clean water, sanitation and electricity
  • survive on a single meal per day
  • have no access to a proper Sports Ground
  • have no kit and no soccer boots, no training resources and no qualified coaches
  • have no experience of playing outside the context of townships and informal settlements
  • have no relationships or understanding of cultures other than their own

To add to all of this deeply-rooted insecurity and low self-esteem, our ‘Boys’ were set to play against the likes of Sporting, Wits, Sandton, Old Parktonians, Panorama and the likes.

“How can we compete with these guys who have everything? These guys have the best boots and kit and coaches and fields and food and energy drinks… and everything! How can we compete against all these ‘A’ teams when we are just Panorama’s ‘C’ team?”

This was the unspoken voice of fear that tormented each of our ‘Boys’ as they ran out onto the field to play their first match. And the fear showed as they struggled with a string of disappointing results. But faith and a tenacious spirit kept our ‘Boys’ alive and they scraped through to the Top 6 Knockout Round by the skin of their teeth. And then something turned within them; a belief in themselves – that they were more than the environment they were born into; a belief in the God they had been crying 3 years to, pleading for help and support. And their next 4 matches were comfortably won to send them through to the League Finals against the Mondeor Meteors.

Now this is not a Hollywood movie, this is reality so – I am sorry to disappoint you – there was no amazing victory in the Finals, supported with a fireworks-ending :)
But that was not needed.
It was a fantastic game that we lost 2-3 to a Mondeor Team that played excellent and well-disciplined soccer. Truth is that our ‘Boys’ allowed excitement to creep into their minds and trap them with an over-confidence that was their downfall. And within that is a great lesson I am glad they are learning.
But that this young “team from the squatter camp” rose above very able, well-funded, well-coached, well-resourced, well-nourished and well-equipped teams to reach the Finals of the First Division in their first year of League competition says more than I can express in words.

THE YOUTH OF ZANDSPRUIT ARE ON THE MAP, and it is because of a giant effort of these ‘Boys’ of the Zandspruit Youth Development Football Club.

As we look ahead to 2012…..


We dream of sending our Under 13’s and Under 15’s to join our Under 17’s in the League.

We dream of having the support to transport these teams to their matches.

We dream of decent soccer boots and training kit.

We dream of nutrient-enriched energy drinks.

We dream of adequate training for the amazing Volunteer-Leader/Coaches who serve these children and youth 7 days a week

We dream of a life for these Young Men that they have shown they deserve.

We dream of a Club Sponsor that will help us develop adequate facilities within Zandspruit for us to continue the great work that has been started


If your heart is united with ours, please would you consider reading through the list below and earnestly searching your heart to see which of these you might be able to assist us with. Though some might seem trivial, please be assured that each of them are greatly important and appreciated.


THE LIST

  • Share this article with your social network and email contacts
  • Leave a comment to encourage, test and/or challenge us in our growth
  • Contact Us for more information on anything we have failed to communicate clearly
  • Make a financial contribution – no matter how ‘small’ you might think it is. Each little penny adds up :)
  • Put us in contact with a friend or colleague who works in the Social Responsibility department of any company and who might be interested to learn more about us
  • Encourage friends and family to Subscribe to our Weekly Updates so that the conversataion may spread across the world to nurture a greater awareness of our amazing African Youth who are rising above atrociously difficult circumstances
  • Add us and the cries of our Youth to your prayers

Once again, I would like to thank you for being part of the Journey. Thank you for your readership. Thank you for the conversations you are having. Thank you for your heart.

The spirit of holy in me gives honor to the spirit of holy in you.
Namasté

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Here’s to the “Little People”

September 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

As I grow in my South African citizenship, I become increasingly amazed by the diversity of our people and the thread of unity that runs between us all. This week I wish to give honor to those who live with no intention of ever receiving honor or acknowledgment from mankind.

Marietjie Steyn [photo intentionally not displayed] has no training, experience or qualifications to run a nonprofit organization; she has no qualifications in social development, poverty alleviation, child and youth development, Community Outreach – nothing. In fact she studied psychology and was in a position to live a normal and wealthy life in South Africa, until one day back in 2002 when she found it on her heart to take a tray of sandwiches into the Zandspruit Informal Settlement to feed some hungry children.

I am often guilty of snubbing such acts because I feel they make no attempt to address the heart of the problem, but rather focus on appeasing our own guilty consciences.

But God has a way of using small people with small offerings for great things beyond the reach of human understanding…

She reached the Emthonjeni Community Centre and was bowled over in a few short seconds by a group of hungry little children.

From a human perspective, it was surely a waste of time.

But Marietjie came back the very next day with 2 trays of sandwiches – and the story repeated itself. 2 Trays became 4, became 8, became 16…. and Marietjie was joined by others whose hearts were softened by both the children and her perseverance.

A small, timid, “white”, privileged Afrikaans woman continued going back to the community of Zandspruit to love the little children who came running to her for sandwiches. Relationships grew, barriers crumbled, and the Golang Education Outreach organization was formed.

Today Golang has 21 staff that look after proximately 350 children from Grade RR to Grade 7 in the most successful aftercare initiative the community of Zandspruit has ever seen – equipping and empowering the “Little People” of Zandspruit, emotionally, spiritually, educationally and physically. The majority of Golang’s staff were unemployed and uneducated before Golang but many have since been trained, equipped and skilled and are now able to sustain their families through this organization.

And all of this from a tray of sandwiches, a soft heart, tenacious spirit and faith in the God of Love.

I am in awe of the Marietjie Steyn’s of South Africa.

I am in awe of how she and others like her embrace the African in themselves without shame.

I am in awe of how the spirit of Ubuntu works beyond race, culture, social standing, financial status etc.

I am in awe of how unity through a love for each other always prevails over efforts of division and segregation.

And I am in awe of the power that works within the “Little People”.

I pray that as we move forward into our democratic freedom, that we would recognize the beauty of each other regardless of race, social status, income etc. I pray that we would revive the spirit of Ubuntu that Africa is built on; that we would embrace each other with gratitude. I pray that many more Marietjie Steyn’s would rise up – black, white, rich, poor…whatever – because the truth is that Africa needs them, their hearts, and their love. And – if nothing else – I pray that you would be inspired to start from right where you are with the little that you’ve got, trusting that the God of Love is sufficiently able to use your “little” to do great things.

South Africa is in a fantastic place and we are growing stronger each day. I am proud to call myself a citizen, not because of who I am but because of those around me.

The spirit of holy in me gives honor to the spirit of holy in you.

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