Friday, March 17, 2017

A New Challenge

Source: Tutorrise
A conversation with my sister yesterday gave me a fresh appreciation for mothers who work outside the home.

My sister, who has two boys under the age of 10, has a demanding job as a project administrator for an IT company and one of her boys is struggling with schoolwork.

She was trying to work out a possible plan to assist him but she doesn't have the time, as she leaves for work just after five in the morning and arrives home just before dinner.

Anyhoo, I couldn't see how she could manage  to change her schedule and still deliver what her job demands. Her schedule is hideous, in my book. I was fortunate that my own work could be flexible and I was able to go freelance when Baby was still young and needed me. Sure, the lack of  regular salary affected us, but I was still able to work and be there for her. My sister's job requires her to be at the office during working hours and her responsibilities require a few extra hours. So she has less opportunity to be flexible. Sadly, this is the challenge many working mothers have to face.

So trying to lighten her load a little bit, I volunteered to tutor Nephew4 with subjects he struggles with if my own schedule allows. I don't know whether I'm an appropriate solution for the problem, but having worked in educational publishing for so long and developed educational material for the current CAPS curriculum, I thought I could apply some of the principles I learnt along the way. Also, my university training included Education methodologies, though it's been so long since those days I don't know if I still remember the stuff.

Anyhoo, today I have some planning to do so Nephew4 and I start work on Monday.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Don’t get mad, get pretty!

Christelle Du Toit, indepedent consultant and former SABC journo
When Christelle Du Toit contacted me to tell me about her idea to help empower women who are looking for work, I jumped at the opportunity.

I'm always happy to take part in initiatives that empower people to live more rewarding lives. Christelle can best explain the campaign in her post below. .................................................................................................
There are thousands, if not millions of women in our communities who struggle every day to survive. They don’t have money and are generally dependent on their partners to get money. If they do get money, it is spent on food, and nappies, and basic necessities – they are fighting for survival every day. They don’t have jobs, or much support, or much hope.

The conditions that lead to women being trapped in these circumstances are complex – is links to our country’s history, our socio economic situation, as well as the very base of gender discrimination that women face every day. I can’t fix all those problems, but to a woman in that situation I can say: Don’t get mad, get pretty!

Something like make-up might seem frivolous to some, but to a woman who is looking for a job, and by the very nature of situation doesn’t have anything, make-up can make a massive difference. It is, in fact, the difference between getting a job or not, because it can give her self-confidence, help her to hold her head just a bit higher, and help restore her dignity and humanity. A pretty necklace or nice handbag might seem like a luxury to some, but it can literally change a woman’s life – as well as the lives of everyone she is caring and providing for.

Most of the women reading this all have a bracelet in their cupboard that they never wear, but that is too nice to throw away – I know there is a woman out there who will love that bracelet and for whom it will mean the world. Those “buy 2 get 2 free” specials? They are amazing, but seriously, what are you going to do with three mascaras? There is definitely a woman out there who either doesn’t have mascara, or who has been trying to stretch hers as far as humanly possible! That make-up bag you got with the magazine you bought? You know you are never going to use it to it’s full potential, but there is a woman out there who will – especially if she actually has something to put in it!

The things we want and need as women are the things other women want and need, so the extra eye shadow you have that you never use will in fact be perfect for someone out there!

Don’t get mad, get pretty! Is a social upliftment campaign aimed at women like us, but who are falling through the cracks and just need a bit of help to feel fabulous again. We need all your extra “nice stuff”, and the sky is the limit, but herewith some ideas:

  • Make-up – all kinds, all colours, for all races, skin types and complexions, but preferably unused (due to hygiene considerations). Also useful make-up stuff, like eye pencil sharpeners, make-up bags, make-up remover, skin products, brushes/applicators/sponges, nail varnish and nail art.
  • Toiletries – soap/body wash, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, hair relaxer, face wash, face cream, roll-on/deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bubble bath/bath salts.
  • Sanitary ware/female hygiene products – pads, tampons (all sizes), liners, wipes, toilet paper (2-ply would be great!), tissues.
  • Pretty things – jewellery, bags, scarves, belts, shoes, perfume, watches.
  • Practical things – nail varnish remover, cotton wool, sewing kits, ear buds, sun block, notebooks and pens, nail brushes, hair brushes and combs, hairbands and hairpins, razors, nail clippers and files, pumice stones, tweezers.
Your goodie bags can be sent to:

Christelle du Toit

138 8th Avenue

Highlands North


Don’t get mad, get pretty! Is in the process of being registered as an official NPO and in the interim existing NPOs will be used to distribute the goods received. Please do NOT send any monetary contributions.

About the founder of Don’t get mad, get pretty!

Christelle du Toit is an award-winning journalist and communications expert with more than a decade’s experience in the media industry.  She has worked for a number of national media houses, including the SABC and The Citizen, as well as for the Free State government, and the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN). She co-authored an ebook on How to get quoted in the Media with Damaria Senne Media and is currently working on a second ebook on job-hunting skills and strategies, called The job-hunt…IS ON!.

Contact details:

Christelle du Toit


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Approaching a Potentially Difficult Project

I spent the morning working on a bid for a government project that sounds interesting and potentially lucrative. The challenge is that my potential partner in the project sometimes flakes when she gets stressed out ( I hesitate to judge her for it because people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones) and well, I've usually found working with government officials to sometimes be very time-consuming and frustrating. So the cautious part of me is whispering that we run to the hills, but my practical side says I know what the potential problems could be and could build systems in place to deal with them by.

Here are some of the things I hope will help smooth over the process:

1. Sign a contract outlining the duties and privileges of all parties

I will not start work on the project until a contract has been signed and an order voucher provided.

2. Plan for when interview subjects don't keep to schedules, potentially messing up the content creation schedule

My plan is to build in reasonable timelines for myself to nail down the interviews. If they can't meet due to their busy schedules, we can do telephone or Skype interviews at whatever time works for them, even if it's lunch or dinner. I also plan to record the interviews so that if I have queries, I can refer back to the audios instead of having to chase down the subjects for answers.

3.  Plan for a protracted approval process

Usually you walk into a project thinking that the people hiring you have the final word on content, but working with government, you can never count on that. Pretty soon, they tell you that they have sent the manuscript to the executive for approval; with said executive having a very different idea from the initial brief agreed upon. And I don't expect them to muster the balls to tell the executive that they are not using an appropriate yardstick to judge the content.

4. Create content plan and schedule officially approved and signed so that everyone knows what is expected

I will make sure that the content plan is officially approved in writing. Also, all editorial changes should be communicated in writing, as part of the tracked changes in the manuscript, not by telephone call. Taking editorial critiques by telephone would just open me to a world of hurt, because the potential for misunderstanding or for something to fall into the cracks is huge. I dislike the he said/she said client discussion so much! It never ends well for either party.

5. Make sure I get paid

I don't really want to spend the rest of the year chasing payment for the project. I've done too much of that in the past, having given the client initial leeway and them seeing that as permission to take their time paying me. So my standard provision to require a deposit before the project starts will stand, to ensure that all my initial project costs are covered if they fail to pay me on time.

So yes, I'm approaching this project with a very cautious attitude, but I'm also looking forward to it because it's a project that adds value to our society. Wish me luck.

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With the exception of entries specifically credited to individual authors, the content on this blog is copyrighted by Damaria Senne and may not be reprinted without permission.