Permanent Staff

Paola MacQueen

Well 12 years have passed by since Viva College was established and I am amazed by how much I have learnt over this time.

Running Viva has been a fascinatingly rewarding experience despite some of the grueling challenges we have had to confront.

 

 

 

In 2003 we were nominated and achieved the Top Ten Spots in the Elle Magazine/Elizabeth Arden ‘Making a Visible Difference’ Awards and I am proud to say that we have assisted to heal and empower so many adolescents and young adults who are now so much more confident and self managing in their life paths today – and that is a great feeling!!!!

 

In addition we have helped many co-operative families to re-functionalise and enjoy their children again. This is always a supreme moment in that the Viva Team commence therapeutic interventions with a very grim familial tableau of familial dysfunctionality that is bordering or way past the point of impossibility of communication amongst themselves. Many families have disintegrated as a result of these disorders. So fixing this challenge is huge and as our youth of today would say ‘ It’s very cool!!’

 

Our success rate over the years has averaged out at around 70% and where we have not succeeded has been due to 3 major factors:    

 

      1. Where Parents / Guardians have not been co-operative with Viva Team Strategies.

      2. When  Students were totally addicted to substances and would not assist Viva toward their recovery.

      3. Where students were too aggressive and/or destructive toward others and our property and thus provided Viva with a security risk.

 

Viva College has evolved from a Dual Diagnosis Recovery Centre to a Home away from Home providing our adolescents (13 to 18 years) and our young adults (19 to 29 years) with a safe, secure and structured environment coupled with a Cambridge High School Education and a broad based Life Skills Program so as to ensure long term  self esteem, confidence and motivation to maintain their future wellness.

 

We have long realized that formal tutors do not generally work out at Viva as these Professionals have not been trained to deal with inappropriate behaviours. We now utilize the expertise of Viva trained Tutor and Coach facilitators and have achieved awesome results. They work with an incredible passion and create a constructive secondary family environment which is conducive toward student stabilization. We outsource any Professional Tutors and Coaches for any subjects or tasks that we do not have the knowledge for.

It still astounds me how a new student arrives to Viva as ‘The Grim Reaper’ and then you Flow Chart the changes over quite a short space of time in that there are changes from within and the whole being alters … softer facial features, eyes that smile and most important lots of laughter! Once that sense of happiness has kicked in we know that we have succeeded in what I term ‘The Change’.

 

We have also dealt with many misdiagnoses. For example we specialize in Reactive Attachment Disorders (RAD) and Personality Behavioural  Challenges. RAD is an ‘Umbrella’ effect Trauma presenting symptoms of many other disorders such as Bipolar, Conduct and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and ADD/HD and other Personality Traits. Once we have conquered the source of RAD and find that there is absolutely no chemical/organic imbalance involved these students can lead regular lives some of which without taking medication anymore. Of course these decisions are taken in association with the student’s psychiatrist who has taken into account the Viva Team’s observations.

 

I have now in 2013 launched a Viva Outpatient Consultation Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and we have also recommenced the Eviva Teacher, Parent and Student Alert Campaign targeting the schools in order to educate them on the signs and symptoms of mental challenges as well as substance use and abuse.

 

So welcome to our planet where we view all the students we treat as treatable and we pull out all the stops to heal your child so as to make his/her world a better place! There is life after Schizophrenia and related diagnosed disorders.

 

…. We are living proof!

Constance Monini

 

I started working at Viva College in November 2003 as a Domestic Facilitator. I have since been promoted to being Paola Macqueen’s Personal Assistant and I run the Administration for Viva as well as supervision of Medication and organizing Clinic and Doctor’s appointments.

 

I love working with young people and helping them to get their life back is very important to me, in that I observe them gaining confidence and self- respect. They also begin to focus on their future and accept their mental health challenge and learn to deal with it. Patience is vital to the treatment of these young people and one has to be very firm and strong.

 

I understand them very well and that makes me feel  good. I feel very rewarded when I see that some of the students begin work or are now attending our High School Study Centre and enjoying it more so than they did in the main stream schools they went to before.

 

 My Motto is …’NEVER GIVE UP! FIGHT TO GET YOUR LIFE BACK’. It’s worth it!!!

Queen Hlungwane

I love working at Viva. I enjoy the students around me and I am always happy to give them attention. I always encourage them to cope with their challenges and what really motivates me at Viva is to assist the students to reach their own goals as I don’t want them to fail in their life.

 

I have studied and trained for the last 2 years and I am now a qualified nurse.

 

 

 




Lucky Mashigo

I started working for Viva in January 2006. As it was my first time working in an environment like this it was not easy for me to adapt.

The support I received from the management and staff made it easy for me to understand the situation about the kids. Being a father myself, the work I do here has helped me to interact with the students on a more relaxed level of communication. The closer you become with them the more you will understand them.

I always start each day with a prayer. I show the students that I care - a fact which they appreciate. I am passionate about my job and i am happy to work overtime when required!

I like to see the students open up about their problems. There are people who think suicide is a solution but no matter how big a problem it can be resolved and life can go on.

I have no regrets working at Viva as it is making me grow as a person. Communication is very important.

God Knows Ndebele

 

I was the first person to be hired full time when Viva opened in August 2002. I was then 21 years old! Working with students over the years has taught me some very different things . I have chased after runaways, holding down aggressive kids and talking to them.

 

I also love my job because the whole team has been very good to me and they care for the students!

 

I am now Plot Maintenance Executive, Shift Supervisor and assist with Security.

 

Skah and Tracey

 

Cleaning and Laundry

 

Coaches

Gabrielle Fischer

Gabrielle Fischer started as a psychiatric nurse at Tara Hospital for over 15 years. And during that time has gained experience in treating various psychiatric illnesses. Most of her time was spent in a psychodynamic unit taking care of the mental well being of her patients by holding individual sessions as well as conducting group and family sessions.

In 2004, she started her own business, Vini Vidi Vici and her first service contract was at Crescent Clinic, where she continued to do group work in the general psychiatric unit but also expanded her professional knowledge by working as an addiction counselor, both as a case manager and as a group facilitator. 18 months later, she realized that there was a need for a forum for more in depth discussion related to what was shared by the patients meetings. She therefore began her life skills sessions which she runs twice a week. Since then a great majority of those patients still attend today and are substance free. In this time she have also run weekend workshops geared for self development and growth that are not necessarily aimed at patients but rather the general public.

2008 is the year that Gabrielle has decided to expand herself and as such, left Crescent Clinic. Part of the expansion plans for Vini Vidi Vici is to propose the inception of life and social skills’ groups and psycho educational sessions to halfway houses such as Viva Youth College. She has begun her outpatient rehabilitation work designed both for individuals and groups.

For more information, contact Gabrielle on 083 577 9898 or email her on Gabrielle@vinividivici.net

 

Tendai  Mandikiyana

 

When I joined Viva College three years ago I didn’t have any idea what conditions like ADD/ADHD or Asperger Syndrome were. It was initially intricate for me to fathom the students’ behaviours partly because of apprehension and mostly due to stigma.

 

After undergoing the relevant training and taking it upon myself to read about and understand the conditions more, the journey to an amazing experience started! I have learnt so much from working at Viva including tolerance, patience and understanding.

 

I am a Sports Facilitator/Sponsorship Executive. Having played different sport disciplines at amateur and semi-professional level, the experience gained has come in handy in imparting the necessary knowledge. Sport plays a major role in the students’ rehabilitation process as it teaches them things like planning and strategy, teamwork and helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle. Thanks to this amazing experience, I have come to appreciate and value life!

 

Amanda  Mandikiyana

 

I have been with Viva College since the beginning of 2009.I started off as a domestic facilitator but I have since been promoted to Tutor Facilitator. At first I was flabbergasted at some of the behaviours I saw because it was new to me.

 

I felt emotionally drained at the end of each day but eventually I started seeing beyond the tantrums and saw how they all longed to be heard and regarded as the beautiful souls they were. I realised all they needed was to be understood and accepted for who they are and I knew my duty was to offer a listening ear and a crying shoulder when the need arose.

 

Being the Tutor facilitator now, nothing gives me more gratification than seeing the pride in the face of a teenager who is proud of an achievement in class, against all odds.

 

Viva to me means family because this is the place where everyone is seen as a capable human being who deserves a second, third or even  a hundredth chance in life, regardless of what they have done and where they have been.

Its never too late to start anew!