The spotlight has been on women in this month and although many have lost hope during the Covid-19 pandemic, community leader MYMOENA SCHOLTZ, shares her story to inspire women not to give up, because during her trials and tribulations she still reached her dream.
In 2008 I found myself unemployed… I had to make a decision after I was disrespected in the workplace.
I went through a lot of conflicting feelings of anger and frustrations; Where do I belong? Am I good enough for the dream job after my character was broken down.
I wanted to start my own business with my husband as I have a passion for business. My family struggled after I left my job and we only had one income. We had a house and a car to pay for, children were all at school and I found myself in a ditch so deep that I did not know how we would survive. I could not pay school fees, etc.
As a woman, I have a lot of pride in myself and I always try my best to be an example. I faced many challenges at home seeing how empty our cupboards were. Seeing my children facing this agony but not saying anything – that would hurt my feelings. Although I think they were too young to understand what I was going through, I feel they could see but did not want to say anything that would hurt me. I spoke to them about my dreams and goals, and that I wanted to pursue them. With much difficulty they supported me.
I sat up in the middle of the night fighting with myself and what I needed to do in order to find myself. I was called by the community members of Vrygrond, to come and help them. I was hesitant because I still did not feel well within my soul. I was confused and lost in my direction, my faith was shaking, but I wanted to try and see how I could help the community.
One morning I looked out my window and I saw a group of youngsters by my gate early in the morning. I was not even dressed, I allowed them in.
The same group invited me to come out to them in Vrygrond on January 8 2008 and I came dressed up like a queen, high heels, make-up, and got out of my car “the Titanic”, a car that was falling apart, but I did not care.
The journey was painful, no money, no resources and I had to prove myself worthy to donors and people in the communities. Although a group of youth and women wanted me in Vrygrond, others felt I had ulterior motives. They said things like “She wants to make money out of us” and “She wants to use us” and the list goes on.
I was introduced to a very nice humble youngster called Michale Mjonono, who had full faith in me and became my shield in the community. He stood tall and strong by my side, but the people still did not trust me. I started working from my car, and then outdoor activities. Not a lot of support came, it took us years before our work was acknowledged and respected by donors and the communities.
A container was made available and we started fixing it with pictures. It became our office. The challenges were huge and it was not easy.
Everyday we continued to fight against the injustices done to the marginalised and disadvantaged communities, and every day our own people abused me.
I had sleepless nights, there were many tears at night, many questions to the almighty why he gave me such a huge task to serve others and no support. I started to question if I did the right thing starting this organisation, but every day a new client would come for my support.
I started putting my energy 100% in what I love and that was to offer training to the ones that trusted me enough as a person. It was only myself and Michael, but we later had youth “drop-outs” that joined us. We offered leadership training and activity management to them in order to assist us.
The people started to see how we strive hard to bring changes, the community started to change towards me. I realised what the saying was: “Trust is something to be earned” and I had to work 10 times harder to earn the trust of the people as well as donors.
The journey continued where donors came on board, I always asked what was beneficial to the people, each and every building grew because there was a need, my tears at night were unstoppable, prayers were the ultimate. I was handed to Smith and Genote because I could not pay school fees, and the school did not bother to call us in to ask why we are not paying the way we used to, but slowly things changed for the organisation, as more and more donors took note of the work.
The journey became easier, I found my true calling, there was no money yet, but the reward in assisting people warmed my heart. Every day I look forward to coming into Vrygrond to make a difference. I was blessed with my first laptop and printer by my eldest son, and up until today all my children are sponsors of the organisation, no matter how small, they see the value in my work and how it brings peace to my soul and the difference I make in the lives of the people who come to us for support.
The journey continues where we constantly look for support, and that is the biggest challenge in my daily life, finding the right donors/individuals who match our work.
I obtained many awards: In 2012 Hero of the Year. Lions International, Paul Harris Fellow Rotary Kromboom Club, in 2020 Amazing Women For making A difference Lions Club Tokai, Vrygrond ECD Forum Dedication of services to the ECD sector, certificate of Appreciation from Feeding our Future, Cape Flats, Alumni 2020 and the Amazing Women Global International Award.
My life has now been filled with much more joy serving humanity in every possible way that I can, and in the best possible way that I can. Although I still face many challenges as a woman, I will not stop rising and help make a bigger difference in the lives of our communities we serve.
Whenever I see a rainbow that pushes through the clouds, I am reminded that I entered a community that was not my own and I had to work hard in order to be part of that rainbow and become one. We are not all born with a golden spoon in our mouths, but we need to work hard in order for us to realise that we are that golden spoon.
It is not where we are from or what we endured that must determine where we headed. I realise everyday how blessed I am to serve humanity because when we stand and fight for humanity our soul is at peace. Therefore I have found my rainbow in each and every person that walks through the gate of our beautiful organisation because it was built for the communities and with the communities.
I must also commend my husband and children for their support of the organisation until today.
My rainbow of hope.