An introduction to the Social Development Officer
The Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in the Northern Cape, South Africa recently employed a Social Development Officer (SDO). The key role of the SDO is to set up projects and programs for all the parishes in the Diocese and promote the mission of the church in their respective communities. This mission is to feed people spiritually, provide guidance, empower, build capacity as well as advance the work of God.
My name is Heather Steenkamp (the new SDO). I am married to William and we have three children: daughter, Thandeka (27) and two sons, William (18) and Terence (15).
I started with this new responsibility on the 1st of January 2014. This important task involves spreading God’s Word, expressing and embracing love and compassion, building individual congregants’ and parishes’ capacities and in so doing growing the church.
Since starting work in the Diocese I focused on existing projects. We are in the process of reviewing short, medium and long terms goals for some of the projects as well as re-launching a few stagnant projects. The greatest need together with support for projects is building human capacity.
Members from parishes are invited to attend various training – using the slogan “each one teach one”. Some parishes already have edible gardens and are also initiating home edible gardens. Father Mhuriro of St Francis of Assisi Parish in Roodepan, Kimberley has extensive knowledge in the field of edible gardens and he offered to start an edible garden training program. We will be setting up a model/pilot garden where he will train members from various parishes in the Kimberley area once all the “ingredients” for the gardens are sourced and delivered to his parish. This garden is part of the “Hope for the Living” projects. The training will include soil preparation, planting, caring for the plants and harvesting. We will be producing training manuals in the English, Afrikaans and Setswana languages.
St Matthews, Barkly Road in Kimberley has very enthusiastic men and womenwho have a sewing project which needs re-ignition. To ensure the sustainability of the project, we are using the philosophy: The “wealth of the poor”. It is an exciting project where training in Market Research, Marketing as well as Basic Bookkeeping will be run to build capacity.
Caregivers who tend to the very ill and elderly in communities have expressed a need for training and spiritual guidance to enhance their work and lives.
We are busy with Sunday school training for teachers and are developing training material for them in the Kimberley area, where we also invite priests such as Father Reggie Leeuw.
An exciting career development project is to be launched with St Cyprian’s Grammar School, a project of St Cyprian’s Cathedral. It’s a very exciting, intensive, practical career guidance program involving a range of external partners to ensure its success and sustainability.
My philosophy is: Projects must breed sustainability through ongoing human development because there are many skills sitting in the pews of parishes which can be utilized to glorify the work of God in all the Diocese.