Good Hope Psychological Service is very privileged to have Peter Morris as chairman of the board. But who is this interesting man?
Peter is a born Bolander; he was born as the second oldest of six children in Vlottenburg near Stellenbosch where both his parents were farm labourers on the farm, Digtebij.
“In those years, almost no farm labourer went beyond standard five; you were half forced to work on the farm after your basic school education,” Peter says.
Already as a little boy in grade one at Vlottenburg Primary School, he had decided that education would be his ‘ticket’ out of poverty. It was not an easy road.
Thus, as a young boy of standard four, Peter started working on Saturdays in people’s gardens in Stellenbosch; it also helped him with train money to Stellenbosch.
He matriculated at Luckhoff Senior Secondary School in 1978. During his high school years, he did no extracurricular activities and focused only on his academy so that he would do well enough to obtain bursaries for his tertiary education.
In 1981 he completed his B Econ and in 1983 his Hons B Econ (Industrial Psychology) – both with bursaries from UWK. He obtained his M Econ (Industrial Psychology) in 1999 at Stellenbosch University, again with a bursary.
In 1984, he became the first black person to be appointed to Transnet’s Department of Psychological Services in South Africa, based in their offices in Cape Town.
From there he made rapid progress and in 1988 became a lecturer in Industrial Psychology at UWK. In 1992 he became the first black regional human resources manager at Saambou Bank. He also holds positions as Senior or Regional Human Resources Manager at Arvin Meritor (Gabriel Shocks), Vodacom, and Capespan. He was also the first Executive Director: Human Resources at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (2002 to 2007) – a true pioneer!
From 2008 to the present, he mainly provides consulting services and concludes short-term contracts.
But how did he get involved with Good Hope Psychological Service? He says, “Helena Reid told me about Elzabé Broekman and she contacted me. I remember telling them at the time that I was not the ‘hit and run’ type. If I get involved with any NGO / NPO, it must be one that adds value. After a few conversations with Elzabé and after meeting some of the people at GHPS, I knew I was in the right place. The people at Good Hope have more than just a passion for what they do. “
According to Peter, Good Hope developed further after becoming independent from Stellenbosch University at the time. “I believe it was the best thing that could have happened; Good Hope could now establish their own identity.
“Good Hope’s biggest challenges are that COVID-19 has further exposed the gaps between the haves and have nots in SA. We will need to rethink our strategies, something we have been working on before COVID-19. We’ll just have to look at everything fresh again. ”
Peter goes on to say, “In 2019 a large part of our focus on children was aimed at behavioural problems, other trauma, and sexual trauma. Many of these problems stem from poverty. COVID-19 pointed out that the poor and the marginalized are even more marginalized now.
“Many NGO / NPO strategies fall within the ‘food parcel’ model and youth, in particular, are not empowered to enter the mainstream economy. We need to get poor young people into the mainstream, but unfortunately, the schools in informal settlements do not prepare learners for this. They are being prepared for unemployment. There is a total gap between subjects offered in their schools and the real world of work beyond. That’s something we need to pay attention to – how do we empower young people to enter the modern economy? How do we break the cycle of poverty?
“I am very proud of the Psychiatric Support Group in Paarl and what they have achieved,” says Peter, “This is a case where people have taken ownership. There should be a greater focus on communities to take ownership. They can’t wait for someone else to save them; they have to make serious choices. “
And what is Peter’s dream for GHPS? “From childhood, it has always been my dream to help break the cycle of poverty. If we at GHPS can play a significant role in this, I would be happy. “
Peter is also very interested in gardening and exploring hiking trails. As an elementary and high school learner, he has won several categories in the Stellenbosch Garden Competition several times while gardening in Mrs. Katzenellenbogen from Die Boord’s garden. He has also hiked the Table Mountain range more than 100 times and has never been up the mountain with the cable car. He also climbed the highest mountain peak in Africa, Kilimanjaro, in 2014.
Our chairman is indeed a man of great heights!