Lungelo Mavuso crossed paths with SADAG in April 2008, when she was given an assignment to volunteer at an NGO for her Unisa Therapeutic Psychology course. She heard of SADAG through a friend, and called them to get an application form to become a counsellor. After a lengthy process of interviews, listening shifts and trainings, Lungelo became a counsellor at SADAG.
“Working for SADAG has made me aware of all the people out there that are suffering from mental illness and need help. It makes me feel good to help people,” explains Lungelo.
“A few months after I started working at SADAG, I took a call from a thirteen year old girl. Her parents were divorced and her mother was so depressed she couldn’t get out of bed and look after her daughter or pay any of the bills. The situation made me picture my own sister feeling the same feelings as this little girl when she was in the same situation. That was a difficult situation to deal with. I wish there had been someone like me there to help my sister through her problems.”
“SADAG has definitely taught me to not be judgemental,” says Lungelo.
Lungelo once received a call from a woman who was complaining that she went to her local clinic to pick up her medication and they called her a crazy person. This lady wanted to change clinics because she was not happy with how she was treated but there was no other clinic nearby that she could go to. “At SADAG we try relentlessly to eliminate stigma from mental illness. What I have realised is, you have to get involved so that you can understand what the person is going through.”
“School trips have definitely been my favourite experience at SADAG. We went on school trips to the Northwest, Limpopo and Gauteng. We get the opportunity to talk to the headmaster and teachers about the problems in the school and then can address these problems in our talks to the students. It allows you to interact with people and offer your help face to face.” Lungelo has been inspired to continue volunteering at SADAG because at the end of a call, someone has said thank you, and you know that you have helped someone and made a difference in their lives.
Volunteering for SADAG has definitely made an impact on Lungelo’s life as it has made her want to pursue a career in psychology. “I’ve come to love psychology and definitely want to take it further in the future,” she says.