“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.” Sameer Charles, 32, loves these words by Italian writer, actor and director Luciano De Crescenzo. “It’s a quote I try to live by,” he says.
When we catch up with Sameer it’s easy to understand why. He’s wonderfully enthusiastic and driven by a profound desire to support those around him. “I have a yearning to shift global consciousness, and encourage deep healing and transformation,” he says. His resolve? To help people fly.
Earlier this year Sameer graduated from SACAP with his Master of Social Science in Community Mental Health Promotion. We’re keen to discover how he liked his time at SACAP and what doors his qualification has opened for him, so we asked him. Here’s what he has to say…
Embracing his calling
Why psychology? “I chose this career path because it enables me to impact humanity in a meaningful way, and ideally bring about systemic change,” Sameer explains.
He wanted to study psychology after high school, but was discouraged he says. “I ended up applying for other qualifications, but quit half way.”
“Starting my studies at SACAP just felt right, like I was divinely guided – destiny if you like,” he adds. “I was part of SACAP’s second cohort for the BPsych Equivalent Programme in Cape Town before registering for the master’s programme.”
Finding his way
Why SACAP? “I liked the applied nature of studies at the college,” Sameer says. “You don’t simply learn a theory and get tested on it, you actually get to implement what you’ve learned to see how it works in practice.”
“What’s more, you get to integrate your training into who you are as a person,” he continues. “I love that you don’t just do research for the sake of research and that it means something.”
Pearls on his path
The top three things Sameer enjoyed about his master’s programme? “One, learning from experts in the field in a practical way that brought the subject matter to life,” he says.
“Two, I valued the hands-on nature of my thesis research. Three, the programme structure, and its relevance in relation to our work within our partner organisation. We could apply what we were learning immediately,” he concludes.
Growing up Sameer wanted to be Superman, he tells us. “Then I wanted to be a fire fighter or a fighter pilot for the same reasons.” Helping people and being of service is what really motivates him.
Today, his passion to aid humanity still burns bright. “In my dream life I want to be in service of people; advocating for equity, upholding social justice and human rights, eradicating poverty, and helping people bring their dreams to life,” he says.
Fortunately, Sameer’s journey at SACAP is helping him achieve his lifelong goal. “It’s given me an opportunity to work on myself and develop revolutionary skills and tools. These are very much needed, not only in the South African landscape, but globally, too,” he adds.
Superior skill set
Despite the fact that his master’s programme has no HPCSA accreditation, Sameer is still able to work in community spaces. In fact, he says, it’s enabled him to hit the ground running. “What we learn at SACAP are work-ready and transferable expertise and methodologies that can be applied in so many different contexts.”
Sameer’s research work published during his time at SACAP is a good example. “It was titled A Post-Decriminalised Adult Consensual Sex Work Industry in South Africa: A Human Rights Perspective,” he says.
“The sex work industry is an extremely interesting one. It appears to magnify the various ‘societal ills’ and concerns of the entire country in one place,” he continues.
Sameer’s work has, in part, led to the creation of a draft bill reflecting a decriminalized sex work industry, he says. “The draft bill is being prepared for the possibility of legislative reform. It’s very exciting and I hope to remain involved in the process.”
What of Sameer’s future plans? “Community development is a passion of mine and I’d love to assist people in reaching their goals,” he says. “I want to kick down barriers within communities and have difficult conversations on public mediums to raise awareness and bring about change. I want to open doors for others as well and equip them with the necessary tools to bring their dreams to life. In some ways, SACAP has done this for me.”
“Also,” he says, “I’m keen to do a PhD building on what I’ve done at SACAP with regards to the sex work industry – it could be pivotal in creating conversation and change. Possibly a PhD in Public Mental Health for better positionality to get it prioritized in our country.”
Furthermore, he’s determined on creating an NGO/ NPC. “An organisation that focuses on community mental health, training and development in a way that touches lives and creates opportunities,” he explains.
Sameer says he’s set on becoming a change maker, mission trailblazer, human rights advocate, mental health professional, builder of dreams and role model. What do you yearn to be?
SACAP offers a wide range of qualifications from undergrad options, postgraduate programmes and even short courses. If, like Sameer, you want to reap the benefits of broadening your mind – and career opportunities – get in touch.
Or, if you have any questions, book an appointment with one of our admissions officers here.