The second Aura women’s circle was born in spring this year: welcome Aura Valley! Emerging in the Dwarsrivier Valley, Stellenbosch, there is now a group of ten single mothers, two local midwives, and one international midwife. Our circle ranges from unemployed to creche worker, from part-time cleaner to office co-ordinator, from tourist company manager to health pharmacy assistant, from beginning a local cooking business to full time cleaner. All now are working in group mentorships in deep body work including massage, and TRE (tension, stress and trauma release). Indigenous herbs, plants and oils from the kitchen for complimentary medicine and healing.
Individual mentorship includes:
Unfolding the Self - ancestral roots and heritage
Working with what’s here and now
Building my dream
In the challenges of daily life as a single mother, in communities known for deep familial bonding and also the ravages of alcohol, drugs and poverty, Aura Valley is just at the beginning of building the trust and capacity from within this circle for women to begin changing their lives.
Reflections on our first Aura Valley circle by Ayanda Nyoka
Ayanda is a social transformation specialist; her work focuses on racial healing and social justice in South Africa. She is a facilitator of dialogue and storytelling circles, and currently a midwife of the Aura Valley women’s circle. She holds an Mphil in Religion and Culture (Cum laude) from Stellenbosch University, her thesis explores the intersection of trauma recovery and spirituality in black women’s lived experiences.
Our first Aura Valley circle reminded me of that warm and delightful feeling of kinship I felt as a little girl whenever my dad would take us to visit his family in his rural homestead of Cata in Keiskammahoek. Upon our arrival, we would park our car and proceed to the rondavel where we would find the family sitting around the fire, awaiting to welcome us. Along the cow dung plastered walls there would be a backless bench for some to sit and my grandmother would hasten my aunt to get mielies from a stockpile of harvest from entsimini - the family smallholder farm. The smoky aroma of the mielies roasting in the fire was tantalizing and one by one the mielies would be turned round and round. We would gather, around the fire, enjoying our charcoaled crusty braai mielies, conversations circling back and forth between the old and the young and swaying back to intimate, generational circles until the burning eye would summon us to sleep.
Back to our circle, we had set our intention as Aura Valley midwives, my yearnings were for a meeting of hearts, that feeling of kinship, proximity and familiarity - a transcendence of the many categories that define and divide us as human beings. Fourteen of us, we gathered in a circle under the blue luminous skies, encircled by expansive trees and mountains with our souls meeting through story and drifting into its rhythm. The air between us felt warm and light, releasing vibrations of resonance and joy into the space we inhabited. Listening to our stories told through the treasured objects that we had brought along, I experienced the feeling of redemptive hope. A hope borne out of the awareness that the beautiful things we cherish tell of our triumph over the pangs of rejection, loss and violence. Suddenly, I am no longer bearing witness just to our particular stories, but I am transplanted into the echoes of so many other women I have met along the way, who have known struggle and the harsh realities of this world. We are the women that have chosen to live, to love and arise beyond the harsh conditions and violent forces that seek to blight our being. As I drove home, my heart sparkling with joy and wonder - I was flung into that child-like joy of new friendship and wonder at the ingenuity of women.