My Life Skill Journey
“What an amazing, positive, scary, real, and exciting up, down and in circles roller coaster of a journey these last two years have been. I could never have imagined what was in store for me.”
- Monet Bruwer
We asked Monet some questions about her experience in the Preparation Year as well as the Skills Development program the year after that. Here is what she had to say in her own words.
Why did you decide to join the Preparation Year?
When I started with the Preparation Year, I was 21 years old. I matriculated in 2016. I was in a turbulent relationship the year before I got involved with Just Africa Life Skills. As I was struggling in the relationship, many issues popped up and this was one of the things that made me realize - I needed time for myself, to grow as a person.
I felt like a dead fish drifting around in the sea, with no sense of direction or motivation. Neither did I have any future plans or any idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was in a very negative space at that time, with a lot of uncertainties and doubts about myself. I found the Just Africa Life Skills Preparation Year online and decided, on my own, to join the program. So far it has proved to be the best decision I have made in my life.
Receiving their Just Africa Life Skills certificate.
From the left: Monet, Marius, and Anri.
Why did you decide to join the Skills Development year after that?
The Preparation Year was a wonderful platform to start with. Then, in the Skills Development Year, you have a safe environment to practice what you have learned in the previous year. I decided to take another year to invest in myself and continue to grow. This year is about expanding your skills on many different levels especially getting work experience.
What were some of your highlights throughout these 2 years?
2020 Preparation Year Highlights:
I was privileged to go on all the tours and breakaways, which is a highlight for me. The Drakensberg was the first tour, it was an amazing and positive experience. I became more at ease and comfortable with everyone and felt safe to open up about myself and my experiences. This was mainly a hiking tour and we all achieved personal bests and mini victories mentally and physically. It taught me to push through, even when you’re tired, and to look back and see how far you've come.
At the end of the year, we did a road trip to Protea Banks, Durban. On our way there, all the girls decided to bungee off the highest bridge in South Africa, namely the Bloukrans Bridge. I really thought that there’s no way I would be able to do that. But, I did it and ended up with a massive smile on my face. Another great achievement for me.
One of my biggest achievements was learning to scuba dive. This was another thing I thought I would never be able to do. I was reluctant to put my head under the water and realized I had a fear of water, but this was the time to overcome it. It was not easy for me at all, but my mentor Marius had a lot of patience. I am very glad I took the chance and discovered a new and amazing world underwater.
I learned to speak in front of people doing various presentations. This was something that used to cause a lot of anxiety for me.
2021 Skills Development Year Highlights:
There were fun assignments I had to do like one about how I see myself. I presented myself as a mini garden. I also loved doing research about marine animals. The reward for my assignment was a 7-day work experience at the Two Oceans Aquarium. It was an amazing opportunity and was fun to see what happens behind the scenes.
Swimming with dolphins
One of my dreams come true was to be in the water with dolphins. This happened on the Sardine Run trip. It was an amazing experience to see all the marine life from the boat and be in the water with them.
I enjoyed learning to create designs and making something look good. There was a lot of work I did which I was proud of. Another highlight was to grow in my interpersonal relationships with staff members, which is an ongoing process, but it is important.
What would you say are some of the biggest lessons you learned?
To be real and true with everyone and towards yourself.
To be yourself.
What it is to lie and also lie to yourself.
To communicate properly.
Your actions speak much louder than the words you say.
What you put into life is what you will get out. You need to do your part.
It is okay to differ from someone else and to have different opinions.
Something very important I learned is to be adaptable.
Looking back at the person you were before starting your Prep-Year up to now, two years later, what are some of the things that have changed?
There was a whole list of things I never thought I could've done, that I am not capable to do. But I have proven myself and many others wrong.
I was very uncertain of myself, shy and withdrawn. Now I can live and function more on my own than before. I’m able to manage my time better. I can cook for myself and do my own washing. I can speak in front of people now.
There have been ups and downs during this time, what helped you to succeed?
I have received a lot of support and love from the staff members which I am very thankful for. I also got support from my parents. There were times I needed some advice or getting different perspectives or to look at the bigger picture where the staff members helped a lot.
I kept thinking about how on earth I will function on my own someday, how will I survive, that idea got me going.
I can be strong-willed which helps me to not give up.