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My name is Gavin Joachims. I am 42. In 2013 I resigned as National Director of Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) - a land sector organisation. My words were calling me and I had to make space to fill my desire to write.
As a young child with curly black hair, my greatest excitement was the first time I wrote my name. In those early days, I strengthened my skill in writing, and till today have a beautiful handwriting. All I remember of then, was my play on words, and my sketches which I called, Scrapios. Two things I knew back then is that I will see my name in print, often, and that Scrapio would one day be a trademark on mine.
I was born in a small town called Ravensmead, 22km north-west of Cape Town. I am the third of four children (two brothers older and a beautiful sister, younger than me). I was gifted scholastically and from a young age was earmarked to be the doctor in the family. I guess being born a non-white under our South African Apartheid regime our parents did everything to push us into careers that were perceived as bringing not only financial success, but more so freedom. So although my parents acknowledged my gift for writing and storytelling, my successes in this field were never really encouraged. When I was 10 years old I won a National Poetry Competition and by time I was 16 my first collection of poems was submitted to a local publisher. This submission was not successful. I was told that I was too young. I think my disappointment was more felt by my mother for she knew, as now, of my first love: writing.
In 1989 I was accepted for a medical degree (MBChB) at University of Stellenbosch. I didn't "fit in" and the next year I enrolled for a Bachelor of Social Science at the University of Natal. I furthered my studies at the same institution with post-graduates in Sociological Theory and Research Methodology. Much later I enrolled for a Master Philosophy in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management at the University of Cape Town.
During my undergrad studies, I worked fulltime as a Restaurant Manager. I excelled at what I did and in my final year undergrad I was offered the post as Franchise Manager for the restaurant group. I remained with the company for 6 years and in this time many amazing people crossed my path.
As a child I had another very special gift. I was able to foresee things.
There were patrons at the restaurant that recognised this. Today many of them have passed on, yet their teaching and guidance remains with me. This was a part of my awakening; my understanding of things and of my writing and storytelling.
I moved on to other companies where my focus remained management and people development. Yet, my heart yearned to write.
In 2000, I went on a very special journey. It was a time of change for me. I left behind all my possessions and with R50 in my pocket I went hitchhiking for 5 months through five Southern African countries. I prayed much during that time. I left Mozambique two days before the devastating floods of 2000; I slept in squatter camps in some of the most dangerous townships; I hitched, alone, on dirt roads in the Okavango Delta region...all along writing, reading and talking to God.
I realised that poverty in South Africa was nothing compared to our neighbouring states. On my return to Cape Town, I founded a Street Children Project called, Swerwerskind. Through this multi-media approach I highlighted the need for alternative forms of education for street children. In this time, I trained in the film and photographic industry and I approached two photographers (one from France and one from Sweden) and a Cape Town-based German Film Producer to stage an exhibition of poetry, photography and film to make society conscious of the needs of the homeless, especially street children.
This work was well received and made real impact . The project (and i) were featured in Oprah Magazine, various national and international print and broadcast media, etc.
The City of Cape Town approached me in 2004 to implement a Social Development Strategy and Programme for the Cape metropole, through an institution called, Cape Town Central City Partnership (CTP). I did so successfully and in 2007 I left CTP and hosted a weekly Social Development Programme on a local radio station (Radio Goodhope FM), whilst focusing on social and community development projects at grassroots level.
In 2008, I was accepted for the post as Project Manager for the United National Development Programme working with the Limpopo Provincial Government. I loved this work. I felt as if I was back again hitchhiking through Africa. When another opportunity came early 2010 to work for a national land sector (rural) organisation I accepted the post as Deputy Director and a year later I was offered (and accepted) the post as National Director for TCOE.
In life, I've been fortunate to have travelled extensively. I've seen most parts of Brazil; I've been to Central America; I visited the USA thrice; I've been to Europe multiple times; I've been to north, east, west and central Africa - mostly loving meeting the people, sharing in their culture and listening; listening finely to the nuances and stories of their lives...my words.
Having said all this, I hope the one thing that shines through is my humility. And this is what I pray for, humble words, stilling to the soul. My most wonderful recent gifts have been the birth of my children: Hannah (6); Annie (3) and Zach (2). Not only have they made me see life in different ways, they have also rekindled my love for words.
As for my wife, Joy, she has laid waste the worst of me. For the first time in my life I not only acknowledge my faults and my weaknesses, but I am granted opportunity to work on these. Joy is my love and the deepest understanding of my soul.