Diane Vermooten has two very different roles; however, they have given her the opportunity to explore new avenues. They’ve allowed her to work as a producer for clients in the media industry while honing her skills and crafts to improve the standard of their media training. “The philosophy behind this double-sided approach was that when we do corporate media and charge a production fee, we are then able to cross-subsidise our learners, from Africa, with the finances required to study at Media Village Training. This allows them to complete a course in Discipleship Training School (DTS) or Film and Media Studies.”
Diane visited in Harmonie many years ago, and her recent experience has not changed. “I can remember dreaming, praying and having a long discussion with Hanneli about her dream to create a place of transformation. I then stood with a group of intercessors in front of the cottages and prayed that God would inhabit the place and that it would become a landmark for Christian development, growth and change.” She believes that every spiritual discipline reflects the on-going change at in Harmonie.
Her role at in Harmonie is the producer of media material for the organisation. “This involves bringing a team of media practitioners (sound and camera) onto the location where we have the opportunity to interview both leaders and participators, capture memorable moments and then craft a visual narrative that serves as a reminder of the days at in Harmonie and to document the process of change.”
Can you briefly name a few of the opportunities you had while growing up?
Diane grew up in a home where role-playing and storytelling were encouraged. She obtained a scholarship to study in the USA in 1975, the year of the Soweto uprising. “Scheduled to be in Soweto on the tragic day in June, I became aware of the degree of separation we lived in and considered normal.”
What do you think some of the challenges are in building a more harmonious South Africa?
“We have not learnt how to trust silence and to listen to both the spoken and unspoken words of those who are different from ourselves. So often we regress into defensive mode, due to personal insecurities, and thereby miss the opportunity to move from our personal ‘perceived state of harmony’ to discover the unaccustomed feeling of disharmony that always proceeds to the new territory of change.”
“Personally, for me to move into a state of harmony, I need to be prepared to create a space in my own life, my own home, preferably around a table that gives those who are ‘radically’ different to me the opportunity to express their views. I need to learn to listen, to assimilate, to refrain from judging and then only to weigh up the new information against my perceived reality.” Henri Nouwen says, “Ministry is, first of all, receiving God’s blessing from those to whom we minister. What is this blessing? It is a glimpse of the face of God.” Diane says, “for me, this means that unless I can honestly see God in every other person with whom I share the South African journey, whether I agree politically or not, I cannot move along the continuum of disharmony to harmony. Unless I confess any innate feelings of superiority as a result of skin colour, education or opportunity I cannot see the face of God in others.”
How do you and your organisation engage in this process of change?
“We actively create spaces in our home and ministry for the conversations of change and courage to take place. We have just trained 50 learners from the Cape Flats, many from dysfunctional backgrounds including gangsterism, in a skills development programme. In the Film and Media course, we engage in providing a platform for learners to use technology, not only to tell their own story but to create a new narrative for their community.” She continues, “our goal is to use the ‘Ecclesiastes’ model which is made up of discipleship, skill development and entrepreneurship to equip our youth with a holistic personal development plan that will not easily break. Our DTS course focuses on grounding learnings in a 6-month course of spiritual development and outreach that will equip students to engage in both personal and national transformation.” They are currently training 21 learners from 11 different nations.
What are your words of encouragement for those in need of hope?
“Hope is to be found in the reality of Christ, not religious or political leaders. Hope is an internal force, so dig deep and find it within yourself. If you wait for external showers of hope, you may wait a long time.’
Diane believes that together, we can create an impervious wall of hope. “I believe that we need to keep searching for creative means and methods to empower the next generation of storytellers with the training and opportunity to redirect the narrative of individual lives as well as that of the nation.”