We asked Ubunye Foundation’s Director, Katy Pepper and Bulelwa Ganca, Kwandwe Wellness Programme Coordinator, who attended Eduweek 2018, to give us feedback on how Bulelwa’s attendance of Eduweek 2018 had impacted the Kwandwe wellness programme in the last 12 months.
By way of introduction, the Ubunye Foundation was established by the founders of Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in 2002 as an integral part of their commitment to the local area. Ubunye has grown to become an independent non-profit organisation with a reputation for work that is innovative and rooted in a genuinely developmental approach to supporting and empowering local communities.
Ubunye is committed to the idea that our wellbeing as human beings is interconnected. The Foundation’s programmes focus on community leadership, savings and financial education and livelihoods; as well as early childhood development and health. While the Foundation initially worked with people living within Kwandwe’s boundaries the work has expanded to include almost 30 communities in the Makana and Ngqushwa Municipal Districts of the Eastern Cape. Through Ubunye over 200 people from rural communities are directly employed, at least half of whom are women. On average every employee supports five additional family members. Programmes include a dedicated Wellness Programme providing primary healthcare support and counselling for staff and families.
Our question and answer session with Katy Pepper and Bulelwa Ganca revealed the following:
A: The EAPA-SA Eduweek is known for being one of the few top events for bringing Health and Wellness people together. Our programme coordinator, working out in the far corners of the Eastern Cape, doesn’t have the opportunity of meeting with others working in the field and EAPA-SA Eduweek 2018 offered her that golden opportunity.
Q: How has the information and learning that Bulelwa brought back to Ubunye Foundation made a difference to Kwandwe’s Wellness Programmes?
A: EAPA-SA gave Bulelwa more confidence in the work that she is doing. Finding out what others do, especially in difficult scenarios such as drug and alcohol abuse challenges amongst employees, was a key learning experience for her. Rather than feeling she had no similar situations to compare her support to, she found others in similar situations whom she could talk to and discuss these issues. A major change I have seen is, therefore, a new confidence and clarity in Bulelwa’s work. A change that has made a real difference to both the programme and n turn the staff community and family members with whom she works.
Q: How did attending the EAPA-SA Eduweek 2018 open your eyes to what the Employee Assistance industry is all about?
A: Eduweek confirmed to me that EAP is a rewarding or fulfilling profession, because once you help a person to gain strength, explore and achieve goals you, in turn, feel good. The fact is that helping a person is not about me as a counsellor but, the clients and his or her needs and goals. There was also a presentation that encouraged EAPs to engage with employees so that they can feel the EAP presence which makes it easy for them as well to utilise the service. I have ensured that I engage with them, give them information and encourage them to ask questions. I get positive responses, some telling me that they appreciate the information on wellness, especially financial wellness.
Q: What was your favourite presentation at Eduweek and why?
A: The presentation that captured me was ‘Integrating spirituality into multicultural counselling: A call for indigenization of EAP and counselling services in Africa.’ which was presented by Nombuyiselo Kahla-Ntshangase from HPS. It made me think deeply about myself and my clients and the service I provide and to think about my values and understanding that my client has unique values as well. Given a Cultural Competency Model I am able to assess:-
- Myself in terms of my own values belief systems, behaviours etc. (Whom am I?), (Cultural awareness).
- What knowledge do I need in order to meet my client’s needs? What can I change within me as a counsellor? (Cultural knowledge).
- Am I accepting and respecting other people or my client’s values etc.? Am I not judging other people’s cultural values and belief systems? (Cultural sensitivity).
- What do I have to change so that I can be able to help my client who has different cultural values and beliefs than myself as a client? (Cultural competence).
This model helped me to be cautious and try by all means to respect my clients.
Q: What was the most important thing that you learnt at Eduweek?
A: The importance of attending to self as a counsellor (Self-care). I need to take time off and relax, think about issues and how best can I do my job, keep myself healthy and try to have a support system etc. As helpers we tend to focus more on others than ourselves, forgetting that you cannot give what you don’t have. Physical activities, diet and switching off phones and TVs at some point, so as to relax and switch off, is important.
Q: How has what you learned at Eduweek made a difference to your role as Kwandwe Wellness Programme Coordinator?
A: First and foremost I would say I came back from the EAPA-SA Eduweek with more passion for what I do, enthusiasm and more information both to share with my colleagues and implement. I’m a little bit stuck, though, when I think what would be the role of Employee Assistant Professionals in the emerging Fourth Industrial revolution. I am interested to see what is going to happen. I work hard on engaging with the employees and it has built good relationships with myself as an EAP practitioner and Kwandwe employees.