Bishop Lavis Development Forum

In February 2011, Quentin Newman, Principal of John Ramsay High School and René Wright, from Sanlam, were connected as Partners through the Partners for Possibility initiative. John Ramsay High School is situated in Bishop Lavis, an area that is plagued with various social ills. This was, however, not a deterrent for this duo.  As a result of their Partnership, the Bishop Lavis Development Forum was established towards the end of 2011.

Community members were invited to attend workshop sessions that took place on Saturday mornings in August and October 2011. After three sessions the forum’s vision statement, mission statement and core values were established.  These sessions were attended by Principals, teachers, learners, community members, political party members, SAPS and NGOs. Attendance was not limited to members of the Bishop Lavis community, but included members from the surrounding communities as well.

Problems were first identified in order to find solutions. Participants were challenged to find out-of-the-box solutions to challenges that the community faced. A valuable contribution was made by all who attended, as each session was facilitated in such a way that topics were discussed and brainstormed in smaller groups, with each of the smaller groups giving feedback to the larger group.

Quentin is currently the acting chairperson of the forum. During his address at each of the above-mentioned sessions, he emphasised the importance of listening to each other. “By listening to a person intensely you empower the other person to grow and speak their own thoughts. The person with the question holds the answer to that problem”. He also stated that the aim of the forum was to create possibilities for Bishop Lavis, “Moving away from the past, building a strong community who takes ownership of their own environment!”

 He emphasized that this initiative did not belong to a single entity, but that it belonged to every person that is a part of the Bishop Lavis community, encouraging everyone to become Partners for Possibility in their community.

According to René, the issues addressed by these sessions come down to three questions:
1.    What are the challenges within your community?
2.    What would you like your community to look like?
3.    What are you willing to contribute to ensure that change is achieved?

She described being a part of this initiative as, a “wonderful experience and achievement”. The vision of the forum is for Bishop Lavis to be a community engaged in sustainable transformation, possibility, prosperity and harmony. With this sentiment at heart, the forum will undoubtedly reach its goal of being not only one of the leading communities in South Africa, but in the world.

**John Ramsay High School provides the forum with a lot of assistance. The school’s governing body has made an empty classroom available to the forum to use as an office and René has brought in a computer to be used by the secretary of the forum.

30 November -1, 00:00