Ode to an unsung heroine

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Elsa getting her St Patrick birthday choccie

Today is Elsa Steyn’s birthday. She is one of the many special angels in my life. Her superpower is her quiet, unassuming sense of selfless service. She quietly gets on with the job of always being there for everybody, never drawing attention to herself, seamlessly just doing what has to and does not have to be done, to make our village here in Hogsback a better place.

She has been running the www.hogsbackinfo.co.za site for years and years, where you not only can see all the accommodation establishments as well as interesting information about Hogsback, but can also do an enquiry which Elsa sends on to all of us. She has been doing this free of charge, updating data and keeping us all in the loop. She also helps me manage the Hogsback Facebook page and always make sure that whatever titbits needs to be on, gets placed there.

The #winter #hogsbackcelebration committee
The #winter #hogsbackcelebration committee

For the last however many years that Xmas in July has been held here in Hogsback, she has been making and co-ordinating the xmas hat making. I once had to make 100 hats as part of the effort, and believe me it was nogal an effort. She makes it seem like no effort at all. She is always there in the background, stealthily making everything happen while staying invisible.

Josef and Elsa on top of the world
Josef and Elsa on top of the world

If you need help, she and Josef are there. I can always count on her for sound advice and wisdom, although I should really, really, really listen to her more…..!

If I feel like a good cry, she is my go-to girl. No questions asked. No judgement. Just quiet, empathetic, healing presence.

She may be tiny in stature, but has a big, HUGE, HUMONGOUS heart. I am so privileged to call her my friend.

Happy birthday, dearest Elsa, we love you, and we see you. May this coming year be everything you wish for. May your family be blessed and healthy, and may God bless you and keep you!!!

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Celebrating the value of (a) woman

Yesterday we had a high tea in Hogsback to celebrate the value of woman, all woman, but especially  one woman who has made an incredible difference in the lives of not just woman, but everyone on the mountain. Her name is Norma.

Norma stands for everything that is gentle, kind, generous, caring and worthy. She was the doctor here in Hogsback for many years, caring for the sick and running an AIDS outreach. Even after she finally retired (after her initial attempt at retirement to Hogsback), she still remains totally invested in our little village as part of the executive board for our local outreach, Jikani, and as part of our Chapel lay preachers and pianists, as  a friend, a wife and a mother to all.

I think Silke’s poem for Norma says it all:

For a text copy of Silke’s poem, download it from here: goo.gl/KgChgf 

Norma read to us the story of when God created woman to remind us of our biggest flaw….

So, Norma, on your 70th celebration month, we can only say that you mean the world to us and that we appreciate you more than you can imagine! As you did not want to be honoured with presents and accolades I would like to ask everybody I know to acknowledge you by making a donation to your hearts project, Jikani (www.jikani.com) at the following banking details:

FNB
Acc name: Jikani
Acc No: 62391132075
Branch: fort Beaufort / 210419
Reference: 70th
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What does it mean to be a mentor?

One of my most inspiring mentors, Tony Carr, is having a Big Splash this weekend (although I would imagine the water in Cape Town might prove to be a little cold), as he and his very special partner, Margaret, is celebrating 120 years of being alive and well and living a Cape Town. I, unfortunately will not be able to make it there on a Face- 2-Face basis, but I am planning to take some time out, pour a little fruit juice and “virtually” have a little splash in their honour (It might involve a little splash of vodka with a twist).

Thinking about this special day for Tony and Margaret, made me think of what make them such incredibly momentous people. This in turn made me think about what it means to be a mentor. If you count the number of times I have used the word “think” already, quite clearly, I think that this is the first response they elicit in those around them- to make them think

But I think I am digressing. Tony and Margaret personify the word. Mentors.

According to the dictionary (online of course) to be a mentor is to be “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” Them to a T.

Tony started off as my imaginary friend (that is what my husband thought). When I started my studies, I discovered Tony somewhere in the realms of the virtual world. Even though I never smacked eyes on him, he was there with advice and gentle prodding and pulling, guiding or rather reflecting me in the right direction whenever I dashed off on a wild goose chase or he had to un-cringe me from various foot in the mouth (my speciality) situations. Sometimes I wondered if he is the voice in my head or if he even really exists (in real life that is).

He has the ability to bring out the best in people. He makes the time- a rare quality when it comes to academics. When you get despondent with teachers who do not want to learn and learners who do not want to teach, he ALWAYS comes up with a subtle solution and even makes you think that it was your brainwave. When you reach a dead end- he is there to inspire you.

Big scale mentoring is his speciality as is evident in his conferencing persona. He is always ON. Never OFF. In ten places at the same time- virtually everwhere- no escape-relentlessly pulling the world into an educational debate of note. Always pushing the boundaries while at the same time making everyone feel valuable and noted. The best conference director ever.

Which brings me to Margaret.   I can only think that we need to give Margaret some of the credit here as I cannot see how Tony can be this omnipresent person without having a life-force to support and inspire him. I first met Tony and Margaret in Hogsback (my paradise) after years of Tony being my imaginary friend and was astonished to see that they (both) actually exist in real life (or I might also have been mistaken as the fresh mountain air can make you think that you see things, hobbits, fairies). What striked me though, was the sense of their communal mentorship- something more than just being soul mates.

Margaret and Tony, even though we cannot be there to splash with you, I do hope that you will be dancing wildly (I will do my jiggle here in your honour). And I want to thank you both for changing the lives of those you touch, including me, by being mentors in the true sense of the word. Thank you.

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