Do I really wanna Surf?


Do not let the injury or limitation of one thing become an injury or limitation to all thing

-7000 ways to listen

Peace on earth hoodies Surgery at 3 Surgery at 41

I blog in peace. A warm welcome to new subscribers.

The past 8 months have been tumultuous at a personal level. My beautiful Daddy was diagnosed with cancer in August and lost his life in December. Serious issues relating to violence my daughter and I were subject to reared their head when I discovered that my daughter had been in the presence of violence and had witnessed it up until very recently.


In February I broke a bone in my foot and have had extensive corrective surgery to my lower right leg and foot. The surgery was a lot more extensive than envisioned and I am 5 weeks into 8 weeks of being pretty much house-bound, not being able to drive or swim.


It has been a time of soul searching and questioning just about everything I believe.


Do the Christians I know really represent Jesus. Including, or most particularly myself?

Can I, as a survivor of violence, and with the continued threat of violence, really back restorative justice? Do I really believe there is no place for redemptive violence? Do I really believe restorative justice works?

Do I really believe it is possible to dismantle violence and establish peace?

Do I really want to surf?


As a child age 11 months, I was paralyzed by encephalitis from the neck down. I had just started standing when I got ill. My Daddy was overseas on business at the time and my two big brothers and myself were in Pietermaritzburg with our Mother, visiting our Grandparents. 7 babies were struck with encephalitis. 6 lost their lives. 1 lived. Me. I did not move at all for several days. My father rushed back from his trip and when he entered the hospital room, he said my face broke into a smile he would never forget. That was the nature of my relationship with my Daddy.




Over the next 9 years I had extensive surgery and daily physio. Age ten I abandoned a wheelchair and a “special school” to walk with a stick and go to a “normal school”. My physio told me I would never cope without a wheelchair. She told me I would never make it in a “normal school”. I didn’t believe her. I got walking. I went on to become vice-head girl of my school in matric. I think that qualifies as making it.


I did give up stuff though. I had been a very good swimmer. I desperately wanted to swim against kids without disability. But I was pretty bummed at how fast they were. So I gave it up and shifted my focus to public speaking and academics. It was the 80s and my father had started to talk to me about what was going on in South Africa and I started to become very conscious about being part of bringing about peace and justice in our land. I went on to study law, practice for a decade and then entered the world of Alternative Dispute Resolution full time 8 years ago. I had qualified with International Peacemaker as part of the board of the Christian Lawyers Association right at the beginning of practice. Over the past four years my focus has shifted more and more to transformative and restorative methods of achieving justice and establishing peace. But I digress.


My brothers, the one in particular, felt there was more room for improvement in my walking. He often spoke to me about it and at Varsity started taking me to gym and physio. I was committed to getting fit and strong but never that committed to abandoning my crutch. My father would always fiercely defend me as the most courageous person he knew and that I had already achieved the insurmountable by abandoning my wheelchair.


In December on the Madiba died, and just a few days before my Dad, the Big O lost his life, I was sitting with him on his bed. I told him all my lawyer jokes, a bunch of other really brilliant jokes and I told him I was going to change the world. He said: “I know you are”. I told him I was gonna learn to surf. He said “I know you are.” I said: “No Dad, you don’t understand, I am not gonna boogie board or body surf, I am gonna friggin stand up surf”. He said: “I know you are”.  He was that guy


Two years ago I took up open water swimming. After twenty years out of swimming training and after being back in the pool three weeks I told my family I was gonna swim a mile in the sea. My Dad said: “I know you are” He was always that guy. He completely backed me. Completely. There was no room for doubt.


The past 5 months I have been doing life without him. And serendipitously I find myself having major reconstructive surgery to my foot, just because I broke a little bone. A second shot at learning to walk. A second shot at learning balance. A forced rest. A forced time to heal….from everything.

My brother Gareth sent me the most amazing video of Bruce Lee who was forced to rest when he injured his back. It was amazing because I had learnt through this experience how vital rest is to healing. He talks in the video about one of life’s biggest challenges being to express who you really are. I have been able to search the depths and ask myself profoundly “Who am I”

My beautiful daughter is so strong. So courageous. She said to me the other night: Mommy, this year I have discovered true joy. Up until this year I was numb. I didn’t allow myself to feel anything. The hard part is now I feel pain. But I wouldn’t give it up because I have learnt to know joy you have to be able to feel pain.

She has learnt at 13 what has taken me 4 decades to stumble upon.

So where do I stand on restorative justice. I back it 100 percent. I back non-adversarial dispute resolution 100{db4c0d2959e302539fe96b7aa3161328ff99665e8aefb664444410c6414dd29e}. I am completely opposed to any form of violence. I am completely opposed to the idea of redemptive violence and any systems that mirror it. I think I have a voice in this as four years of being subject to violence nearly stripped me of my life and everything in it.

I also think I have a voice because I practice this stuff. I am seeing results. I am seeing lives change, communities change, schools change. It works.

At the heart of what I do is restoration. At the heart of who I am is restoration. Central to my ability to learn to surf is restoration. As a follower of Christ, central to my faith is the greatest work of restoration in history: the reconciliation of all and all things on earth and in heaven.

And I have learnt how important it is not to let the injury or limitation of one thing, injury or limit all things.

As always


Upcoming Training workshops in ADR (mediation and dialogue processes) and Restorative Justice Peacemaking:

12-16 May Jozi

19-23 May Durban

9-13 June Cape Town

7-11 July Winter Schools for Students


Dispute Resolution Email: or

Access to Justice:

Ethical Streetwear: Bloodless Revolution hoodies, beanies and other:

We never fight people. Ever. What we do fight is systems that perpetuate injustice and wrong mindsets

We never fight people. Ever. What we do fight is systems that perpetuate injustice and wrong mindsets

-Sheena Jonker

Restoring the Template Half Day Seminars in ADR



I blog in peace. And indeed I blog in silence as I arrived at the office a little earlier than the others today.

I think my last blog went out on the 19th of last month. In that time much has happened. We have moved into new offices and now share with DreamCo, a company that I co-founded and that exists to connect entrepreneurs and other dreamers with their dreams. DreamCo and ADR Network SA work shoulder to shoulder on many of ADR Network SA’s access to justice project. As I have written in the past I am a firm believer that creativity is a powerful tool in working to accomplish justice.

Here is our latest DreamCo/ADR Network SA print campaign produced under the brilliant direction of DreamCo creative director, Drew McGibbon and assisted by newly appointed studio manager Travis Cottrell.




I was invited to attend the briefing of rape survivors and sitting amongst around 30 rape survivors was a surreal experience. Life changing. In a good way. On the day I was handed the mic at the lunch time “die in”, a form of protest where protestors act dead in order to remember those who had lost their lives to rape. It was pretty emotional for me to speak then. I had never known rape, but I had escaped 10 years earlier, a violent situation that I battled to get out of for three and a half years. And so being given the mic was not lightweight for me but it was an opportunity for me to honour the courage and beauty of the victors I encountered there as well as those that stood with them and walked with them in support.

I am overwhelmed at the courage, intention, commitment and the sheer excellence of the work Larissa Klazinga, Michelle Solomon, Aimee and other world changers are doing at Rhodes.

I was also so honoured to be able to spend time with Dean of Students, Viv De Klerk, Deputy Dean, Roger Adams and Sports Psychologist Greg Wilmot, all of whom have done our programs and support our work in achieving justice non-adversarially.

Late March I facilitated a successful dialogue at the Indaba of University Sport South Africa. The previous four years there had been walk outs due to high conflict and stalemate. I wish to honour all those there for their commitment, grace and honour in pushing through some really difficult stuff to get to resolution.

We also had an amazing time at our half day seminar in Johannesburg early April. We will release upcoming dates shortly for Jozi, Pretoria and Cape Town. The purpose is to entrench principles, meet others and secure work.

My travels also took me to Pretoria to finally meet Prof Faris who heads up the Institute for Dispute Resolution Africa. At this stage let me just say Wow! And I will write more in my next blog.

Later this week I will be addressing the NEC’s of various Trade Unions. I will report back on that but I am very excited.

Our next five day program is in Jozi 24-28 June. Space is limited as we are expecting a delegation from Nigerian National assembly. Please write to us urgently if you are keen on a spot.

As always, our correspondence program continues to run, so drop us a line for more info.

We have growing capacity in all provinces so to refer a dispute drop an email to

For more on the-go-news, please like our page on facebook

We tend to post there most days. You can also follow me on twitter @sheena_ostjon

I actually have a lot more to write about but don’t want to make this too long, so a will blog again in the next few days.


Until then, peace.



The Blessedness of Everlasting Light

Beautitudinem lucem sempiternam

The blessedness of everlasting light

Salve Amici!

I blog in peace.

We had the first of our Half Day Seminars yesterday in Durban. Restoring the Template. Revolution is not so much about doing new things, but it is about restoring things to the way they should be. And that is our pursuit: that justice is accomplished reconciliatorily, restoratively and non-adversarially.

Our ultimate pursuit is peace.

We live in a crazy world right? And I won’t subject you to my views on how crazy it really is and how the agenda of mass media is to dumb us down.

My friend, Luke Holden quouted Mario Murillo yesterday as saying: “You cant stop a child of God who know’s what’s going on.”

We need to be truth seekers and not naive to the extent of evil in the world. And it’s extensive.  But I also profoundly believe in the increase of goodness and I fervently hold on to the blessedness of everlasting light. Beautitudinem lucem sempiternam

Of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end


I have been chilling with the writings of Milton, Chesterton and Tolstoy over the past week. Chesterton begins his book What’s Wrong with the World by saying that “What’s wrong with the world is that we don’t ask what is right with the world”

I am committed to seeking out the good, inclining my intention on that and watching it increase. My own particular brand of doing that is by bringing back resonance with non-adversarial processes, like mediation to accomplish peace and justice.

Yesterday’s half day seminar was amazing. It really was. The purpose behind these seminars is to up the conversation around what we are doing and inspire government, civil society, the private sector and individuals to favour non-adversarial ways of dealing with all conflict, be it in their families, schools, businesses or workplaces. We had the most amazing group who contributed such profound insights to our efforts in bridge-building.

The way I see it, these seminars will inspire us at three different levels. One, to change the way we deal with conflict in our daily lives. Two, to become a part of helping others settle disputes non-adversarially by becoming mediators or just using mediation skills to assist others. Three, to become part of the freakin revolution! If you join us at this level, you get a beret! No really.

One of the most powerful starting points in conflict resolution and peacemaking, aside from restoring honour, as I have written much of before, is to demonstrate to parties in conflict the existence of other options. In conflict, we generally assume a position and so “resolving” the conflict is about asserting our own position and being attached to the win.

True peacemaking, true justice restores both parties, yes even the wrongdoer, or the poor choice maker, to where they should be. This is generally accomplished through creative solutioning.

Bill Johnson says that every four year old is an artist. And then they go to school. We need to foster the creative genius that is intrinsic in our kids. That exists in us all. It is not too late! It is creative minds that open businesses, employ people, solve life’s problems. We need to value creative genius. We are created in the image of the Creator Himself. We must honour that.

Upcoming seminars half day in Johannesburg on the 20th and Cape Town on the 25th. Please email to join us.

Also, please keep up to date with us on our facebook page and our You Tube channel. Keep watching for our series of videos on Access to Justice and the role of Mediation.

Please send me your comments. I really love hearing from you. This week we move into offices with DreamCo which is producing our videos, our upcoming talkshow and The Influence Project. Drew McGibbon, Creative Director of DreamCo is creative genius at it’s finest.

Until next time, victory is certain. No surrender! No retreat!

If you wish to train as a mediator or arbitrator, or you wish to refer a dispute, please email



Twitter @sheena_ostjon, @drewmcgibbon, @in_fluence