A Story About Strength - [website] Email Print
Published: 18th of Aug 2023 by: Debbie Engelbrecht

Every year in August we celebrate women's day. In South Africa Women's Day marks the anniversary of the great women's march of 1956, where women marched to the Union Buildings to protest against the carrying of pass books.

The march, which was organized by the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW), marked a turning point in the fight against the oppressive regime at the time and symbolized the unwavering strength and determination of South African women.

Today I would like to tell you about a South African woman who epitomises this strength. A mother of 5, with, due to her age, having had very limited opportunity for education, Nomvuso has operated in the home making industry her entire life. When I met her, she was a mere 30 years old and her 3rd child about 6 years old. She had followed her husband from their hometown of Cradock to the opportunities in the City of Cape Town.

Removed from her family, she was one of the fortunate ones who had a hard-working hubby who soon found himself employed by a corporate company as a delivery truck driver.

Nomvuso tells me that when she was little, her mom used to clean the main house on the farm in Cradock where she grew up. Nomvuso, would often accompany her mom to work. Her mom was strict and used to chase the 8-year-old Nomvuso with a feather duster if she even thought about slacking off or playing with the chickens when she was supposed to be collecting the eggs. She laughs as she tells of the creative ways her mother used to wake their household up on the bitter cold and dark winter mornings!

During her first years in Cape Town, Nomvuso missed her family and farm life terribly, but being raised by such a strong woman, she herself had taken on some amazing qualities. First of all, no matter how many curve balls and challenges were thrown her way and there were really very many, Nomvuso remained committed to being the very best person she could ever be. She kept her high work ethic, she showed loyalty, she showed commitment, she remained patient and steadfast. Often at a high cost to herself she always put her children first and she always spoke with her heart.

It is thus no wonder that today, Nomvuso at retirement age has managed to put one of her younger children through university and is smiling brighter than a shining star and her chest swells with pride when she speaks of this young one. You see, had she been given the same opportunities as her children, she would likely also have been employed as a white-collar worker, or even been a nurse or a school teacher. But she wasn't and she isn't.

What neither Nomvuso nor the Staff Training team can possibly quantify are the ripple effects of her life story, as it is her story, but specifically the way she managed it. Her story inspired us at Staff Training to start looking at how we can contribute to the upskilling of house keeping staff, enabling them to enter the more formal and better paid work sector. Since the inception of that workshop we take special delight in hearing from the many delegates who have embarked on this road.

I distinctly remember the very first delegate we trained as well. She at first, was simply not interested in the opportunity as it would create too many difficulties for her in the community. Community jealousy in her thinking would eventually lead to a lack of support for her and her children. She too, had followed her husband to a bigger city and was nowhere near her family. Today she is the office manager at the same company where her potential was first noticed, as they too had the vision to invest in attitude and not only skill.

So today when I read the words : "Symbolizes the unwavering strength and determination of South African women", these are the two women who spring to mind.

Nomvuzo and Gloria, I salute you this month and every day.

© Debbie Engelbrecht 2023

Debbie is the MD at Staff Training, providing soft skills and leadership training for South Africans since 2000. Should you wish to learn more about our Introdution to the Business World workshop, please email info@stafftraining.co.za today!

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