Resilient women can be found anywhere but the ones who stand out are those who give back to the community despite having experienced trauma in their lives.
Keyaan Hooper, a community leader, contacted Southern Mail to attend a Women’s Day event supported by Key Community Projects, a non-profit organisation in Grassy Park, on Saturday August 17.
Mr Hooper also pointed out two “extraordinary” women who he had worked with in serving the community.
Soraya de Villiers, of Lotus River, and Whilma Jethro, of Grassy Park, empowered themselves despite setbacks, while raising their children as single parents.
Ms De Villiers grew up in Lotus River opposite Phumlani Village where crime through poverty is prevalent. She has been living there for 50 years and became involved in feeding the children of Phumlani Village and school children after seeing the struggles of families.
As the leader of Key Community Projects, Ms De Villiers said she had always been a “community person”.
However, life was not always rosy. One of her traumatic experiences was when she got married again after 27 years of being divorced. “I got married but my husband died in the same year.”
Ms De Villiers also suffered three strokes in 2015. “The first one was a severe stroke, which left my left side of my body numb, but after a week, I recovered. The second one was not as bad and the third was caused by high blood pressure and I felt a pain on the heart.”
Ms De Villiers soon gave up her job as events coordinator at the University of Cape Town and dedicated her time to cook food for the needy. “I managed to get enough money to make food for the children. I also catered for the launch of today’s event.”
Mr Hooper, who provides Key Community Projects with fresh vegetables from his community garden in Grassy Park, said he supported the Women’s Day event to give them an opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy some entertainment.
He said Ms Jethro does not hesitate to help the community.
Ms Jethro has a passion for the elderly. She has been divorced for 10 years and raised her two children on her own. “I grew up in 11th Avenue, in Retreat, a not so safe environment, but people in the road had respect for our family as we treated everyone with respect.”
Ms Jethro always kept an eye on the sick and frail and popped in at the elderly homes to check up on them. “People confide in me, because I am always willing to find a solution for them.”
She said she applies the same attitude to the different roles she plays in her life. “I am a mother, a business woman and a community person.” And she said she cares for everyone, the same way.
Her advice to other women is not to depend on anyone but yourself. “Get a job, a driver’s licence and don’t rely on anybody,”
At the event the women enjoyed entertainment from young dancers and singers.
Mr Hooper can be contacted on 074 036 0547 for more information about his community