Monday, October 29, 2012

Power of Choice, Power of Change - 24 October 2012

Reon Schutte and Billy Kueek
“We may not be able to choose our circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond,” - Reon Schutte.

I attended a talk at SDCC recently, featuring Reon Schutte and NLP Master Trainer Dr. Billy Kueek. Reon who, you asked? Reon Schutte is a former South African POW, and cancer survivor, and he was in the country to share his compelling story about his incarceration in the notorious Chikurubi Prison in Zimbabwe, as well as his fight with prostate cancer during imprisonment.

Let me be very honest with you here. I have never attended any talk, of any speaker, in my whole life. In fact, I have never once, attended any self help/personal development seminar nor workshop in my life. The NLP Associate Training workshop which I signed up for in July 2012, was my first ever personal development workshop, and was on my own account.

So why did I choose to listen to Reon? Well, to start, over the last few months (second half of the year to be exact), I've been going through a rocky patch in my life. A lot of things have occurred, and the timing of things hasn't been all that great. I've been feeling very sad, depressed, angry, disappointed, bitter at myself. I've actually lost track of my own desires, and have been very very doubtful with all my decisions and actions.

I've fallen down pretty hard, and I didn't know how to get back up. I had no one to talk to (aside from my hubby), simply because no one would be able to comprehend the situations I was going through. I kept things to myself, also because I chose to keep things to myself. It was something for me to overcome, my own struggle with myself. My close girl friend was in the loop of things, and has suggested that maybe I should attend this Reon Schutte talk, but I brushed it off at first, as I needed some alone time to myself for a while.

I felt so broken, so crushed by the weight of things, I have been in tears several times in the night. My hubby was my strongest supporter, always there to calm me down and to bring me back to my senses when I drifted away (sometimes too realistic to the point I feel worse). It came to a point I thought I needed to seek out a therapist, to help me cope with my emotions. And so I emailed my close girl friend for some contacts, and along the trails of emails, she brought the question up about going with her to the Reon Schutte talk again. And this time I gave it some thoughts.

I figured, I could listen to someone who was stronger than me, who had lived through excruciating pain and suffering, and was now travelling around the world sharing his story in the hopes of inspiring others to be stronger. I figured, I needed that sort of external strength, to give me the strength that I'm seeking at this point in my life. Then perhaps, I can figure out my own life, what I want from it, and how I want to measure my life.

Reon Schutte speaking at SDCC.
To summarize things, Reon Schutte is a former POW, and was sentenced to Chikurubi Prison in Zimbabwe for 26 years. He described the cell as horrifying, cramming 50 men in a cell made for 11. Four walls, no windows, and a hole for a toilet. His only possessions at the time of imprisonment, were a pair of shorts, a shirt, and blankets infested with lice.

During his incarceration, he and his cell mates had to endure daily beatings, stale rotten food, diseases and unhygienic conditions. Mortality rate at that time was 10%. Imagine living in a cell 24/7, with no contact to the outside world. To add to the life of a prisoner, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. A support group had formed in South Africa, lobbying for his release year after year, and under tremendous pressure, he was given medical attention. However, due to the terrible living conditions in the prison, infections occurred and he had to endure several more surgeries.

I can't possibly comprehend his emotions, and yet Reon wasn't bitter about his horrible experience. In fact, I think he came across as peaceful, he had found peace within himself. And it's something I'm looking for inside myself... Peace within myself. Some of the words from Reon resonated inside me, and I'm beginning to digest them, so that I can then figure out for myself, what I want to do, what my choices are, and how I am going to respond.

Image taken from
When he was thrown into prison, South Africa had no internet, no mobile phones, no DVDs or CDs, none of the technology which we have today. So when it came to the Q&A part, I asked Reon how is he readjusting to society and everything around him. He reply was that, even though he is now back into society, he is not from it. He is still readjusting, even after 8 years of release.

I also bought Reon's book, to read a little more about this life, and to see what I can gain from his principles.

There's a short video on his website, taken two days after his release. Click here to view it, to get a better picture of Reon's story.


I'm sorry to hear that you're going through a bad patch. And I'm glad you took the initiative to ask for help. That goes a long way.

@suanie Thank you for your thoughts. Learning how to break away from my own prison, and find peace within myself.