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In a world obsessed with technology, apps and Smartphones, the most important app is still direct, one-on-one human contact. An app(titude) for empathy, compassion and caring is also not to be scorned at.

While I was going through a live changing event a few years ago, my need was not for the latest technology, app or online connection but for the support of family and friends to champion for me in my journey and process of putting the pieces of my life together again. Six years later, this is still my primary need.

My saving grace during those dark days were my loving and supportive parents, my painfully honest daughter and loyal friends who were quick with words of love and encouragement, but also loved me enough to tell me that the pity party was over.

Stripped from all that was valuable and familiar, known and comfortable to me, I came out of the crucible with only myself and the love and support of my community of family and friends, as the foundation to rebuild my life upon. Step by step, moment by moment, day by day I started to reconstruct myself, my life and my world with the loving arms of family and friends, their words of encouragement and admonition, as support. Their strength became my strength, their care my care for myself. They were not there to save me from my circumstance nor of the consequences of my choices, but to support, encourage and admonish me in the path that I have chosen for myself.

Now, six years and many tears, frustration and hard work later, I started to share this special gift – the gift of loving care, support and encouragement – with other women going through life changing events in the form of a small, I care group meeting once a week at a local coffee bar. We share our stories, discuss our challenges and debate our options. We laugh together, cry together, grow together – every woman having something to contribute to the group. Within the span of a few weeks we have grown into a small community of supportive, caring women. Strangers became friends, champions and allies.  Through peer-coaching as well as my professional input as marriage counselor and life coach, we address the problems and the complexities of our individual life changing events and transformations. Slowly, trust, self-confidence and hope are regained and rebuild and the bleak outlook of a hopeless future turned into new aspirations and goals.

There is no hiding behind what is comfortable, known and familiar in this group, as these valiant ladies week after week challenge each other to step beyond their own comfort zone. They do not lament about what was, what could or should have been, but support and encourage each other to embrace the realities of rebuilding their lives.

Slowly the network is growing as word is getting out and the impact of the supportive group can be seen in the lives of its members. Through means of a Whatsapp group the members daily keep in contact with each other. They also started spreading their message of hope and encouragement to other women worldwide through their Facebook community (https://www.facebook.com/femalegoldenthread/).

No infrastructure or resources were needed for the group to start or to grow. The need of the members is emotional support, understanding, compassion and empathy and there is plenty of this going around. The only thing needed was a willingness to CARE.

©Micelle Coetsee 2017

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