Matt’s story

Matt* (16) and his brothers live in a flat with their mother. None of the boys’ fathers are involved in their lives. Their mother is often absent and the boys are left alone without parental care, support or supervision. At times the community provides food and transport for them.   He referred himself for feeling depressed. He often had anger outbursts, was very shy and withdrawn and felt awkward in social settings.

With the help of therapy, he discovered his gifts and talents and became progressively more confident. He even competed in a talent show at his school, something he would never have done in the past. He has discovered healthy ways to cope with his anger and to begin forgiving his mother for all the things that she is not.

“I have learnt more about my emotional mental state. I have also learnt to go a little beyond my limitations, slowly. I have noticed that what I see in myself isn’t always what other people see. I feel mostly happy now, and hopeful about my future.”

Sammy’s story

Sammy* (16) is a bright young woman who was referred to CK by the local hospital after being raped when she went to visit family friends.

She showed classic signs of post-traumatic stress and, among other things, struggled to concentrate, had flashbacks, was more reserved, refused to go out alone and was more prone to outbursts of anger. Her sleeping pattern was very disturbed due to flashbacks, fears and nightmares. The lights had to stay on at night and she didn’t want to sleep on a bed or alone in her room. From her body narrative she was clearly still trapped in a freezing reaction and initially showed little movement or emotional expression.

At CK, Sammy felt safe in finding her balance again and releasing excessive trauma energy. We have worked on ways to better regulate her emotions and energy so that she can stay within her optimal zone of functioning without having to go into a defensive response physiologically during the times when she is in fact, safe.

Any sexual abuse often causes problems with regards to personal boundaries and we have worked to strengthen her inner sense of what is safe and unsafe. Over time, Sammy felt ready to sleep on her bed in her own room without fear. She feels comfortable and safe with a soft light on during the night.

“Not only was she able to sleep in her own bed at night without fear, but she again showed a relaxed spontaneity at home and at school”.

A story about grief

A nine-year-old boy was referred to CK following the death of his friend. He suffered from situational depression, showed symptoms of irritability and a decline in his academic performance.

His teacher reports that he is back to his old self again. The depressed mood has lifted, his schoolwork is back up to his usual standard and he had good interactions with his classmates. He was able to work through his grief and find his centre of gravity again.

The client’s mother reported back that after the therapeutic process her son was not caught up in his own world any more. The mother continued to say that she can see that Community Keepers really makes a difference in children’s lives that need help.

Lucy’s story

Lucy* came to CK for guidance regarding a romantic relationship and her future plans. This all sounded fairly simple, until she mentioned that she is in a relationship with a gang member. Her parents are divorced and she is struggling to make a decision as to who she wants to live with after her matric year.

She desperately needed help with ending the romantic relationship. Throughout therapy we worked on her self-esteem, the person she is now, who she was before and who she would like to be. We came to the conclusion that she will not reach her personal or academic goals if she continues her relationship. She mentioned that he does not support her goals for her future and expects her to be under his control. She was tired of the verbal and physical abuse and distanced herself from him, started taking a different route to school and asked him to please leave her alone.

She learned to communicate her needs to both her parents and became more relaxed with the fact that her parents love her, regardless of their disagreements and despite the fact that they had both remarried. Unfortunately, the client decided too late that she wanted to become a police woman, as the date for admission had already expired, but she was motivated and adamant to complete her matric year regardless.

Soon after the matric results were released, Lucy reached out to me to thank me for the services and the support she received at CK. She was so proud to say that she passed her matric year, that she is looking for work and that she will be applying to the police later this year.

“Thank you so much for being the one person I can talk to. Thanks for never leaving my side through the tough and ugly times. Thank you for being my rock. Thank you for being understanding. Thank you for being patient, kind, and friendly. Thank you for accepting me for who I was, and looking on the inside, not the outside. Most of all, thank you for loving me when it seemed like nobody cared. Thank you, Community Keepers. You know, after failing so many times in life, I have come to realize that I wouldn’t be successful if I gave up. Never give up, keep your head up, whatever challenges you face”

*All stories have been printed with permission, but names have been changed for reasons of confidentiality.