Effective Activism and Self Care

If you feel compelled to make a difference in the world, a meaningful, impactful contribution, how do you do this and still take care of yourself, remain healthy and be effective?

I offer sessions to activists already engaged in causes, and also new and aspiring activists. My experience in this field has shown me many aspects of activism, and the importance of maintaining kindness (to oneself and others), community, good boundaries, integrity and a razor sharp inner radar that reads the body and heart’s signals to maintain presence.

Events in our world can be incredibly overwhelming, traumatising and devastating, and if you choose to step into the field where you exercise your intention to make a difference, it is a good idea to have a strong relationship with yourself, as you will be tossed about the waves of chaos and uncertainty. There is tremendous learning and evolution to be had as an activist; an opportunity to grow in ways you would not otherwise. 

In our sessions we might look into: 

  • Strategies around self-care – kindness, integrity, nourishment and love alongside the roles of anger, self-responsibility and victimhood.  
  • How does one build resilience?
  • How do we find our people, our tribe when confronting systemic injustice? 
  • How do we deal with conflicting philosophies with our fellow activists? 
  • How does one locate oneself in a group, when the group mind becomes overbearing?
  •  How do we effectively use our time and effort to make a difference? 
  • How do we find allies? 
  • How do we exercise good boundaries? 
  • Are we making good use of existing structures and processes in our legislature and institutions that can give momentum to our cause?
  • Are we listening to our instinct, our gut feeling?
  • Are we being mindful of our impact?
  • Are we being wise around when to advance, when to pivot, when to retreat?
  • How are we dealing with the unrelenting flow of emotional and intellectual traffic?

Since being back in South Africa, I have chosen to work in with organisations that impact the world positively.

I am the founder and director of Zingela Ulwazi Trust (Hunt for Wisdom), a non-profit social and environmental impact organisation. Our flagship project is Permaculture Explorers which provides training in business development and permaculture skills to women in a local village who find themselves way below the international poverty line. You can read more about our work (and the goals we’re kicking!) here.

For 3 years, from 2015 to 2018, I ran the Civil Society Support Initiative for AWARD (Association for Water and Rural Development), where I brought together over 150 rural civil society organisations (CSOs), grassroots and larger NGOs, for a series of 18 Indabas (meetings) to help advance their causes. From 2016 to 2018 I was a facilitator on Changing Practice, an 18 month training for environmental activists, which saw 7 CSOs develop their cases, their resilience, their networks and support structures and make a big difference in their world. You can read about these cases here.  

Civil Society Support Initiative in the Olifants River Catchment, Groblersdal, South Africa, 2017

I came across Andrew Harvey’s Sacred Activism in 2011 and was deeply inspired by his philosophy, which I draw on in my work today. 

“A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism.”– Andrew Harvey

With Lillian Marule and the children of RDP village in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, where we have done a lot of our work.