Arms Wide Open: strengthening communities and culture through mothers, children and youth
My purpose and personal mission is to strengthen communities by supporting mothers, children and youth to break the chain of their parents’ past prejudices, to embrace and preserve their cultures while supporting them to think, act and make decisions for themselves empowering their families and their communities.---Warren Te Brugge, Founder, My Arms Wide Open
As the principal of Manzimvula (Man-zim-vu-la), Te Brugge’s passion is people. He has been fortunate to have the opportunities to work with organizations large and small, learning and growing through collaborations and experiences. This life experience enabled him to gather knowledge, understand cultures, adapt and bring the principles and programs embodied in Manzimvula’s Integrative Strategy Approach (ISA) into communities through My Arms Wide Open®.
What makes the Integrative Strategy Approach unique is the productive and sustainable environment it creates. The implementation of the core principles are anchored in two basic tenants, create no dependencies and ask only questions.
Manzimvula’s ISA processes and techniques work to align the values and objectives of individuals, teams, organizations and even entire communities. Through an adaption of the Manzimvula Mindful Action Program™, called Iziko Labahlali (E-zee-ko La-ba-la-li – Hearth of the Community), members of the community are supported to create a mindset that becomes second-nature, supporting individuals and groups to naturally act in alignment with their new, shared belief system. And, once focused on a common vision, implementing strategies to achieve long-term, sustainable development and growth becomes possible.
The Integrative Strategy Approach even works in environments where there has been a total breakdown of communication, synergy and growth at all levels. The proof? Our success in using ISA to empower rural South African communities through our work with the My Arms Wide Open ® Foundation.
The situation in many rural South African communities is extreme; communications between community members is fractured and productivity is at an all-time low. Although the skills to generate revenue exist, the lack of shared values and the inability to work as a team (either as a family unit or as a community) have created a downward spiral. These communities are, for all intents and purposes, stuck in their past – like many low-productivity organizations.
In rural South Africa, the Iziko Labahlali program supports families to look past their individual circumstances; to identify opportunities to work as a team to attain community outcomes that they all can rally around with strong and common beliefs. Families participating in the My Arms Wide Open® program have become community change agents.
‘The most valuable part of the program for me was the affirmations and how you need to set goals step by step in order to achieve them. I also enjoyed working on my River of Life and expanding on what I can bring to my community, challenging my fears and building on my hopes and dreams.’
By embracing their indigenous culture and establishing a shared vision for their future, the whole community can effectively and sustainably manage scarce resources. In owning and accepting their past and being able to see their successes, individuals and entire communities are moving forward to create the changes and growth they both want and deserve.
By identifying common values and objectives – based on each individual participant’s mindset, life path and skills – implementing services and creating products that have been identified as community needs becomes possible. The result is generating growth and employment. And, as the original group of individuals share the ISA principles and techniques more broadly in their communities, more opportunities are being realized.
‘My experience with the program was an eye opener. It some how helped me to look at life differently. It was more of motivational and improving self-esteem, challenging oneself to strive on becoming a better individual. I believe that, all those that participated had a different approach to life after attending the program.’
The bottom line is that by tapping into individual’s skills and desires, and by creating alignment between personal and group values and vision, the My Arms Wide Open programs have facilitated growth, skills transfer and sustainable operations in an extreme environment. We are now working in other communities and duplicating these results.
The Manzimvula programs apply equally well in both corporate and organizational environments: we identify current perceptions and reality at an individual, team and organizational level to develop and implement