Press release: August is National Organ Donation Awareness Month

August is National Organ donation awareness month, take the decision to #makeitknown that you are an organ donor.

Life is the best gift you can give. It’s why TELL helps educate South Africans about organ and tissue donation. Tell (Transplant Education for Living Legacies) was created with heart, for hearts (and other organs).

Two of the three founders are speaking from first-hand experience, having received life-saving lung transplants. This not only gives them a second chance at life, but it places them in the unique position to make a difference in the transplant community. Their experience allows them to identify various barriers to organ transplantation and it is their mission to solve as many of these obstacles as possible.

One of the biggest problems we face in South Africa lies in the process of identifying and referring potential donors. South Africa already has a shortage of organ donors, and the lack of education around the situation is only making matters more difficult. It is also important to note that in South Africa, the donor’s family has the final say in whether or not organs are permitted to be donated.

Tell’s goal is firstly to help educate both potential donors as well as medical healthcare professionals, and break the stigmas and misinformation around organ and tissue donation.

Secondly, they want to encourage anyone who wants to donate their organs to TELL THEIR TRIBE of their wishes to be an organ and tissue donor. Awareness is key, and they firmly believe that the most important part of improving organ donation environment is conversation.

Their mission is to end the waiting list by changing and leading the conversation around organ and tissue donation in South Africa.

WHO?

Anyone!

At the time of death doctors will determine whether or not you are a suitable donor.

There are no religious or age restrictions (the oldest solid organ donor was around 80 years old) and even people with medical conditions can be organ and tissue donors.

WHEN?

Upon brain stem death.

Two independent doctors, not part of the transplant team, perform detailed tests, and have to sign off brain stem death before you can be considered as a potential organ donor. The

Department of Health guideline defines brain stem death as: “the irreversible loss of capacity for

consciousness, combined with irreversible loss of the capacity to breathe”. It is equivalent to the

death of an individual. A person who is brain dead has no chance of recovery, because their body is unable to survive without artificial support.

In South Africa it is possible to be a live donor and donate a kidney or a part of your liver to a person in need, should you be an appropriate match.

HOW?

Tell Your Family!

In South Africa, currently the only legally-binding way in which to donate your organs and tissue at the time of your death is for your next-of-kin to give their consent for your organs and tissue to be donated. This is the case even if you have registered to be an organ and tissue donor or have written your wishes in a will. It is therefore essential to let your family know of your wishes to be an organ and tissue donor.

WHY?

You can save 8 lives!

There are currently thousands of people in South Africa waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

The reality is that there are just too few organ donors to address this need, and consequently, many patients will not receive their organ transplant in time.

The organs that can be donated are as follows: 2 lungs, 2 kidneys, heart, liver (can be split between 2 recipients in some cases), and pancreas. You can also help between 50 and 100 people through the donation of your tissues. For example, your skin can be used to help burn victims and your corneas can be used for cornea transplants to restore a person’s sight. You can also donate bone, heart valves, tendons, ligaments, and veins.

The #makeitknown campaign is a fresh approach towards organ donation awareness, part of the campaign is for participating Tattoo studios to offer the Tell Tattoo (quotation marks) for free. More than 600 people received their Tell tattoo since the start of the campaign.

 Why the quotation marks?

The TELL logo incorporates quotation marks, because the most important part of organ donation is conversation. We want people to show that they’ve started the conversation with family and friends.

 For more information:

Tell is more than happy to answer any questions you still have around organ donation. Please email info@tell.org.za for more info.

 

SA Huweliksweek Internasionaal Verteenwoordig

Suid-Afrika is vanjaar verteenwoordig by die Huweliksweek Internasionale Konferensie wat vanaf 24-26 Mei 2019 in Wene, Oostenryk, plaasgevind het.

Die tema van vanjaar se geleentheid was ‘Celebrating Commitment’.  Liezel van der Merwe, president van SA Huweliksweek, het Suid-Afrika by dié geleentheid verteenwoordig waar 54 afgevaardigdes van 17 verskillende lande teenwoordig was.

“Dit was ‘n wonderlike voorreg om mense van regoor die wêreld te ontmoet wat passievol is oor huwelike en gesinne,” sê Liezel, ook die besturende direkteur en redakteur van INTIEM en Marriage Capsule.

Liezel is gevra om een van die hoofsaaklike voorleggings te behartig waarvan die tema: ‘Hoe SA sosiale media en digitale bemarking gebruik om Huweliksweek te  bevorder, met ‘n fokus op invloed en betrokkenheid van bekendes.’ SA Huweliksweek is ‘n toonaangewer op dié gebied. Die maatskappy agter SA Huweliksweek (Media in Africa),  het suksesvol transformeer vanaf slegs gedrukte na ook digitale media en spesialiseer steeds daarin om boodskappe aan ‘n teikengehoor oor te dra met behulp van digitale interaksie.

“Ek het taktiek en statistiek gedeel van byvoorbeeld hoe die Facebook algoritme die oordrag van ‘n boodskap beperk. Die nuutste aanduiding is dat slegs 6% van ‘n blad se aanhangers ‘n boodskap sal sien. Daarom móét jy weet hoe om jou inhoud te struktureer,” sê Liezel. By die geleentheid is Suid-Afrika ook amptelik aangewys as die land wat voortaan Marriage Week International  se sosiale media sal bestuur.

“Dit was wonderlik om mense van verskillende lande te ontmoet wat opstaan vir sterk huwelike en gesonde gesinne. Die effek van egskeiding is waar – ongeag hóé gewoond ons raak aan die feit dat elke tweede huwelik in die skeihof eindig. Die regte toerusting om in jou huwelik te belê, is belangriker as ooit!” vertel Liezel. “Ons is deel van ‘n globale beweging wat die volgende idee ondersteun: As daar liefde in ‘n huwelik is, sal daar harmonie in ‘n huis wees, tevredenheid in gemeenskappe en voorspoed onder nasies.”

By die konferensie het Harry Benson, Navorsingsdirekteur van Marriage Foundation in die VK, ook statistiek gedeel rakende egskeiding en die effek van saambly op vandag se samelewing. Volgens hom neem egskeidings toe gedurende die vyfde, sesde en sewende jaar van die huwelik, waarna dit stelselmatig afneem. Ná tien jaar het die meeste huwelike ‘n wonderlike struktuur gebou met die potensiaal om te hou en daarom kan die belangrikheid van toewyding in ‘n huwelik nie genoeg beklemtoon word nie, verduidelik Liezel.

Marriage Week International is in 1996 deur Richard en Maria Kane gevestig en is in Geneva geregistreer as ‘n Internasionale Vereniging. Die visie is om die konsep teen 2021 onder 75 nasies van die wêreld te sien groei en ontwikkel. Die inisiatief bring media-groepe, besighede, die regering en geloofsgroepe bymekaar – enigiemand wat omgee vir die huwelik. Duisende plaaslike geleenthede vind jaarliks in restaurante, kroeë, media-lokale en kerke plaas. Huweliksweek vier die diversiteit en lewenskragtigheid van die huwelik as ‘n grondslag vir die gesin.

“Ons is oortuig daarvan dat die huwelik ‘n briljante instelling is wat deur gemeenskappe gevier moet word,” sê Liezel. “Daarom is Huweliksweek ‘n tyd om te sê: ‘Word wakker. Die huwelik is ‘n fantastiese idee.’ En aangesien ‘n gesonde huwelik ‘n vaardigheid is, kom ons leer nuwe vaardighede om ons huwelike van goed na uitsonderlik te neem!”

SA Huweliksweek is in 2013 gevestig en word ondersteun deur die regering, invloedryke persone en vrywilligers regoor Suid-Afrika. Dit word elke jaar vanaf 1-7 September gevier en alle getroude paartjies regoor Suid-Afrika word genooi om hieraan deel te neem.

Volg SA Huweliksweek op sosiale media, registreer gratis en besoek die webtuiste. ‘n Geleentheid vir paartjies om hul troubeloftes te hernu sal vanjaar op 7 September om 10:00 plaasvind by die INTIEM Love Bridge, Magnolia Dell, Pretoria. Kaartjies is beskikbaar by itickets.co.za.

Vir meer inligting oor dié geleentheid of SA Huweliksweek in die algemeen, besoek www.sahuweliksweek.co.za

Vir onderhoude of meer inligting, skakel Geraldine Murray by 0123477530 of geraldine@sahuweliksweek.co.za

The theme for International Child and Youth Care Workers Week 6 to 12 May 2019: “I am, because you are”.

People like to ask why Child and Youth Care workers chose to pursue a career with demands as taxing and a job description that just never seems to end.

Was it a burning desire to change a life for the better?

Was it an attempt at giving back to the world by doing a lifelong kindness?

Or maybe the underlying desire to be a mother/father to plenty had nibbled and gnawed its way into their future.

The reasons are plentiful and varying, but in all honesty, so is the work. So we might ask ourselves, why do they do it? Let’s forget about the cheesy one-liners and heart-warming Facebook statuses and really apply our minds to the reason why these men and women dedicate their lives to shaping the generation of tomorrow.

Any mother will tell you that raising a child is a big blended bowl of walks in the park mixed with the occasional equivalent of wrestling an alligator. There are ups, there are downs and then there is spinning in circles so fast that you forget which one is up and which is down.

Most of the time you can do little else but close your eyes and blindly stumble forward in the hopes that you are doing the right thing. Parenting is no easier than trying to nail jelly to a tree or asking a dog what it would like for lunch.

So the question remains, why do they do it?

Why get up before the crack of dawn and go to bed long after the stars had started dancing in the sky?

Why take an oath to wash dishes until your fingers go wrinkly and your back threatens to give in on you?

Why pledge your undying allegiance to the broom and mop?

Why wrestle thirty alligators when one is already more than you ever thought you could handle? Why wander around in the dark not knowing when you could potentially stub your pinkie toe against the corner of a desk or table leg?

Comprehensible answers seems non-existent but go out into the world and ask these very questions to the first Child and Youth Care worker you come across. Their reply might surprise you.

They’ll tell you that they do it for the smiles, that they do it to see distinctions on report cards, they do it to see a sleeping face after soothing and singing the monsters away.

They do it to see friends find each other, to witness the systematic shaping of a future doctor or lawyer or leader.

They do it to see the broken be mended, the fallen rise from the ashes; they do it to see fire touching the stars.

They do it to wipe tears from small faces, to patch up a skinned knee and rejoice when the training wheels come off and that first bike ride sails across the lawn.

They do it to pick up the pieces of a shattered High School heart and patiently glue it back together so it may beat on to fall in love another day.

They do it to live in the moment, to stand on the sideline and cheer as those they’ve come to care for strive towards heights formerly thought unreachable.

They say it takes a big person to love someone else’s children like their own, could you imagine how big a person it takes to love upwards of thirty children like your own?

All this being said, Child and Youth Care workers do not call it sacrifice; they do not call it public service or a deed of goodwill towards charity. They do not call it a job but a lifestyle. They do not work with the lives of children, they live with them, silently observing, knowingly shaking their heads and handing out hugs when they sense the aftermath of a bad day at school.

So cheer for them, admire them and believe in them.

 by Marno Reyneke, Third year psychology student.

THE SMILE WHICH STEALS EVERYONE HEART

*LL = pseudonym

Before LL was even a mere thought, he was already part of SAVF. His mum’s involvement enabled us to get to know LL even through his mum’s pregnancy. We have been looking forward to his birth and to start playing with him.

LL’s mother went for routine investigations during her pregnancy, where it was determined that LL would be born with a defect. We were sad with Mommy, but stood together to give her hope that LL would receive medical support.

The special day finally arrived, and LL was born (sharing his birthday with the regional manager, Mrs Ferreira). Great excitement prevailed, and the staff at the hospital had to teach Mommy to support and feed LL with a major cleft lip and palate with which he was born.

There were regular follow-up examinations at the hospital, with challenges regarding early morning transport for mom and baby and waiting in long queues. The investigations culminated in an operation that had to be done at the same hospital, so that LL’s lip could be repaired. The Smile Foundation was approached and the first operation was eventually done with there assistance.

LL is becoming the most beautiful little boy. He is spontaneous and happy and shares love as much as he receives. His first operation was only the first step in a road that still lies ahead of him, but the joy in his eyes is something special to behold.

SAVF walks the road with LL – to change his life, to always give hope and to ensure a smile on his face.

Estelle de Man, Social Worker, SAVF Vanderbijlpark

 

HER NAME IS ZOë

The vulnerable few months’ old bundle’s soft moaning sounds are quickly replaced by convulsions and a loud cry. Here it is again! Her despondent adoptive mommy affectionately hugs her and prays that the Lord will take away the withdrawal of drugs in her body. It is unfair … kids’ shoulders are not built to bear the weight of their parents’ choices … Wrong decision of a young mom in her youth.

Today she is 17, healthy, laughing, a teenager on the eve of adulthood. She had to make choices and take responsibility, take note of her circumstances and try to make sense of it. She chose to accept, forgive, to reach out, instead of receiving. She conscientiously reports to the social work office and helps to carry chairs, unpack and serve. She targets the children in her school that suffer and takes care of everything. Her values ​​are anchored and her passion is contagious. Youth like you, dear Zoë, give me hope for tomorrow!

Our youth, our ticket for the future, our hope. We need to help them survive in the current climate of political and economic challenges, from social media and worthless movies. We need to free them from a culture of entitlement, from a character without integrity and egotism and from no longer caring for you, next to me. Perhaps we should learn about rights again, but remember to fulfil your own responsibility first.

We celebrate Youth Day on June 16, but many South African children will not have the opportunity to develop into leaders. However, maybe we can make a difference. I took note of the following five ways in which we can help our youth develop into fully-fledged citizens with a difference:

  1. Feed

No one can work on an empty stomach and no child can develop without the necessary nutrition. Help a child.

  1. Educate

A sad reality is that some children will not grow up with bedtime stories or be put in bed by a loving mother. You can help finance a child’s education or open your home to experience your love.

  1. Empowerment

Help empower our young people through education so they can develop in women and men that can contribute to the growth of our country. Set an example. Live your values. Maintain integrity. Learn by showing without saying a word.

  1. Clean up

Instead of complaining about the children’s messy rooms, let them help you. Tackle their bedrooms and donate excess clothes, books and toys to needy children. Let your children be part of this. Teach them to reach out and care. Your unusable items become a jewel in another’s life! It is better to give than to receive!

  1. Read about matters

Help by knowing the needs of your own environment. Find out which emotional challenges our youth are facing, about drug use, the importance of discerning decisions, and emotional intelligence. With your knowledge you can make a difference no matter how small it is.

  1. Time

Love is spelled T I M E. Make time for each other, for your teenager, away from cell phones, television and other entertainment. May your home be a safe haven for your teenager to always return too.

On Youth Day we celebrate being young, dreams and creativity! Together we build a better future, one by one, with Zoë’s small contribution.

Suzette Oosthuizen, Regional Manager

HAAR NAAM IS ZOë

Die weerlose, paar maande-oue bondeltjie se sagte kreungeluidjies word gou vervang deur stuiptrekkings en ‘n harde gehuil.  Hier is dit weer! Haar moedelose aanneem-mamma druk haar liefdevol vas en bid dat die Here die onttrekking van ‘n lyfie vol dwelms moet wegvat. Dit is onregverdig… kinders se skouers is nie gebou om die gewig van hul ouers se keuses te dra nie… Verkeerde besluit van ‘n jong mamma in haar jeug.

Vandag is sy 17, gesond, laggend, ‘n tiener op die vooraand van volwassenheid.  Sy moes  keuses maak en verantwoordelikheid neem, haar omstandighede aanhoor en sin daaruit probeer maak. Sy het gekies om te aanvaar, te vergewe, om uit te reik, in plaas van te ontvang.  Sy meld pligsgetrou by die maatskaplike werkkantoor aan en help stoele dra en uitpak, bedien en regpak.  Sy teiken die afvlerkvoëltjies in haar skool en maak heel en versorg. Haar waardes is geanker en haar passie aansteeklik. Jeug soos jy, liewe Zoë, gee my hoop vir môre!

Ons jeug, ons kaartjie vir die toekoms, ons hoop.  Ons moet hulle help oorleef in die huidige klimaat van politieke en ekonomiese uitdagings, van sosiale media en waardelose films.  Ons moet hulle bevry van bakhandstaan en die ontvang-kultuur, van ʼn karakter sonder integriteit en ʼn eiewaan en nie meer omgee vir jou, hier langs my nie. Dalk moet ons weer leer van regte, maar onthou om eers eie verantwoordelikheid na te kom.

Ons vier Jeugdag op 16 Junie,  maar baie Suid-Afrikaanse kinders sal nie die geleentheid hê om in leiers te ontwikkel nie.  Miskien kan ons tog ʼn verskil maak.  Ek lees die volgende vyf maniere raak waarop ons ons Jeug kan help om te ontwikkel in volwaardige landsburgers met ʼn verskil:

  1. Voed

Niemand kan op ʼn leë maag werk nie en geen kind kan sonder die nodige voeding ontwikkel nie. Help ʼn kind.

  1. Voed op

ʼn Hartseer werklikheid is dat party kinders nie met slaaptydstories sal grootword of deur ʼn liefdevolle ma in die bed gesit sal word nie. Jy kan ʼn kind se opvoeding help finansier of jou huis oopstel vir ʼn kind om jou liefde te ervaar.

  1. Bemagtiging

Help om ons jong mense deur opvoeding te bemagtig sodat hulle in vroue en mans kan ontwikkel wat tot die groei van ons land kan bydra. Stel ʼn voorbeeld.  Leef jou waardes. Handhaaf Integriteit.  Leer deur te wys sonder om ʼn woord te sê.

  1. Maak skoon

Pleks van oor die kinders se deurmekaar kamer te kla, laat hulle jou help.  Takel hul slaapkamers en skenk oortollige klere, boeke en speelgoed aan behoeftige kinders.  Laat jou kinders deel wees hiervan. Leer hulle uitreik en omgee.  Jou onbruikbare items raak ʼn juweel in ʼn ander se lewe! Dit is beter om te gee as om te ontvang!

  1. Lees na

Help deur op hoogte van die behoeftes in jou eie omgewing te wees.  Vind uit watter emosionele uitdagings ons jeug mee te kampe het, oor dwelmgebruik, die belangrikheid van gesonde besluite en emosionele intelligensie. Met jou kennis kan jy ʼn verskil maak, hoe klein dit ook al is.

  1. Tyd

Ons almal spel liefde as T Y D.  Maak tyd vir mekaar, vir jou tiener, weg van selfone, televisie en ander vermaak.  Mag jou huis ʼn veilige hawe wees vir jou tiener om altyd heen terug te kom.

Op Jeugdag vier ons jonk wees, drome en kreatiwiteit!  Saam bou ons aan ʼn beter toekoms, een vir een, saam met Zoë se klein begin.

 ‘n Woordjie van die aanneem-mamma:   “Ek is so dankbaar dat ander ook die mooi in hierdie kindjie van my raaksien.Sy was van dag een af die grootste geskenk vir my en my man.

Dit was nie elke dag maklik nie, maar ek het NOOIT OOIT gedink aan opgee nie.

Dit is die waardes wat ek vir haar ook leer.

Dankie vir die grootste geskenk ooit aan my toevertrou.

Ek GLO iewers het ons iets reg gedoen om so pragtige kind te mag ons eie noem”.

 Susette Oosthuizen, Streekbestuurder

INVEST IN THE YOUTH

Children known to SAVF are often traumatized by their circumstances and sometimes by their parents. These are conditions without hope and with tragic endings.

As someone recently said, the terrible circumstances children experience are often “age restricted” but that is what the children experience in practice!

Read the success “stories” of certain very special children.

According to the provisions of the Children’s Act, they may not be identified, but we may share their stories. The children have benefited from the community’s generosity and over time, with their own inputs, changed their lives.

  • On Christmas Day 2007 a girl was admitted to a SAVF Child and Youth Care centre (CYCC). She was destitute, neglected and without family. Twelve years later she is a fourth year B.Ed. student. She was not only able to go to university, but also to rise above her circumstances.
  • In 2010 another girl, who was one of four siblings, and who could no longer live in the very poor circumstances without food, clothes and proper shelter, was admitted. Last year she obtained a BA degree and is currently busy with her LLB. She passes every year with excellent marks and is now trying to obtain her driver’s licence.
  • In 2009 twin boys without parents were admitted to a CYCC. Not only did they find a home but also a place where they could develop their passions and talents. One of the boys obtained a BA Sport Science degree and is a role model for his “brothers” and “sisters” in the CYCC.
  • In her matric year the circumstances of another girl were so bad that she had to be placed in a CYCC urgently. She had no family who could take care of her. The positive outcome of her circumstances made such an impression on her that she started studying social work.

These children took advantage of the opportunities created for them.

They each received a government bursary that paid for study fees and accommodation. SAVF, as their parent, provided them with moral support, a home to visit during the holidays, as well as pocket money, money for books, food and clothing. The funds were provided by the SAVF Development and Empowerment initiative.

Would you like to make a contribution? There are more children who would love to benefit in the same manner.

Dr Blanche Verster 

KEEP OUR CHILDREN SAFE

Danie van Loggerenberg from Toys for Africa shared his passion for the safety of children with us:

We have various Child Protection Weeks across the country coming up.

In summary, we visit schools with the local SAPS and children are told how to be safe inside and outside of the school. Anti-bullying is a widely discussed topic, along with not walking home alone, taking sweets from strangers, inappropriate touching, etc. For the high school, we shift focus to cyber-bullying and drugs, while also having more intense discussions around inappropriate touching.

From personal experience of parental alienation, we touch on this subject too.

We meet roughly 60 000 plus children during these Child Protection Weeks. I believe the opportunity is there to encourage children to come forward and tell us about either parent not being part of their lives, for whatever reason.

After an incident that occurred at Valhalla Primary, we were invited to speak to the children there. It was encouraging that some children came forward after we spoke to them.

After a separation period due to parental alienation, my children have been back for 3 years. This happened after some corruption, blackmail, bribery and falsified reports, locked court files, etc. Due to these circumstances, I have not been as active, as back when I fought my “battle”. Research back then showed an alarming percentage of children that were unfortunately withheld from contact with an able and willing parent without any reason.

Of the 60 000 children we will meet, I believe over 6 000 children suffer this terrible emotional abuse.

At Toys for Africa, we are by no means limited or in any way forced to take hands with the SAPS and in the towns where we do not receive approval, we still meet the children. The reasons we approach the SAPS stations are countless. However, with regards to parental alienation, false Domestic Violence 116 orders are something we have been able to educate or rather share some insights on, with the SAPS.

The amazing stories are plenty:

An 8-year-old boy was forced by Parent A to lay a false claim against Parent B for sexual assault. He came forward and said it was all made up and that he missed Parent B.

A 13-year-old girl received a quad bike from Parent A for telling a social worker she did not want to see Parent B out of fear for Parent B. After 3 years of no contact, now being more mature and having a real emotional need for Parent B, she acknowledged that Parent A promised the gift for the testimony.

I’d love to take hands with you to protect and empower our children.

Contact Danie: danie@toysforafrica.org.za to collaborate.

To date, over 379 350 children have benefited from our Passion.

SUSTERS

Ek en my ma arriveer van die kraaminrigting. Laan is ‘n kleuter van twee.  “Kyk na jou Sussie”.  Laan hardloop kamer toe en gaan haal haar kosbaarste besitting, haar speel strykystertjie.  Sy wil dit vir my gee – ‘n gebaar wat haar liefde en aanvaarding wys.  Sy was nooit jaloers nie en het haar hele lewe lank als met my gedeel, sonder om ooit daaroor te kla.  My Ousus is so ‘n onbaatsugtige “gee mens”.

Ek sit kruisbeen op die kombuiskas.  My onderlip bewe.  Ons Ma het weer voldag begin werk.  Ek mis haar en die huil sit vlak in my keel.  Ek is baie Ma-vas vir ‘n kind van agt.  Laan kom in die kombuis in en met een swiep tel sy my van die kombuiskas op, abba my van kamer tot kamer en sing en hardloop en maak perdgeluide.  Die lawwigheid laat my lag.  Dan stop sy ‘n half papgedrukte sjokolade-trosie in my hand.  Die taai soetigheid vul my hele wese en troos tog ‘n bietjie.  “Mamma kom amper huis toe… en as sy sien jy het gehuil, gaan sy ook huil”. Sy vee ‘n traan van my wang af met haar regter wysvinger.  Sy, my Ousus, was nog altyd my anker.

Dit is twee jaar later… Sy is nou ‘n wyse dame van dertien.  Dit is Junie vakansie en snerpend koud in die Vrystaat.  Die ryp wys nog plek-plek wie is baas.  Ouma Dons en Mamma is doenig in die huis. “Vandag gaan ek jou leer waar babas vandaan kom”, kondig sy aan met ‘n stem wat gesag dra.  Vasgeknyp onder haar arm is Oom Jan van Elfen se boek.  Sy sleep twee tuinstoele nader en ons kry ons sit agter die hoenderhok. “Kom laat ons begin”… Sy lees en lees en ek gaap haar oopmond aan.  Na elke bladsy vra sy plegtig:  “Enige vrae?”  Die grootmense is salig onbewus van die seksvoorligtingklas wat agter die hoenderhok ‘n aanvang neem.   Twee jaar later sleep Mamma ook die einste oom Jan van Elfen boekie nader. ”Laan het my klaar geleer Mamma.”  “Wanneer?”  Mamma se mond hap borrels soos ‘n vis.  “Ek was tien”.  My Ousus was altyd my leermeester.

Ons is studente en geniet elke oomblik daarvan.  Laan woon in die kamer langs myne in die studentehuis en later in die koshuis.  Op ons af-middae klim ons in ‘n skuimbad en “Nice and Easy” ons hare. Ons eet slap tjips in die studentesentrum en “gee punte” vir die mansstudente wat verby gesuiker kom.  Goeie, sorgelose dae!

Nou woon ek op my eie.  Ek is eensaam en alleen.  Agter bakhande fluister vriende en familie “Oujongnooi”.  Ek word genooi na al wat ‘n kombuistee en babatee is, maar vir my is dit net een groot droogte  Ek smag na ‘n maat, maar die troubesigheid wil maar net nie gebeur nie.  Maat vind is deksels moeilik!  Dit is ‘n Sondagaand. Die depressiewe Sondagaand-gevoel het my in sy greep, en daar verbrand ek my aandete ook nog.  ‘n Klop aan die deur… Laan staan met ‘n bos sonneblomme in haar arms, want sy weet dit is my gunsteling blom.  Ek huil op haar skouer.  “Toemaar, als sal regkom”.  Sy het my altyd hoop gegee.

Drie jaar later kry ek ‘n teksboodskap van haar.  “Sus, ek het jou nommer vir een van my vrywilligers gegee en hy gaan jou bel vir ‘n koffie-afspraak. Sy naam is Robert. Moet nou nie hardekwas wees nie.  Gee die man ‘n kans.  Robert kan ‘n lekker tjommie vir jou wees”.    En dit is inderdaad so.  Na tien jaar van getroud wees met my Robert, kan ek inderdaad saamstem.  Hy is my beste Tjommie.  As my Ousus nie ingegryp het met haar praktiese raad en hulp nie, het ek seker vandag nog alleen op Sondae-aande gehuil en my aandete verbrand.

Ek is swanger met ons eerste baba. Oor twee weke word die Asjassie gebore.  Boeke beantwoord nie my vrae so mooi nie.  Ek peper Lanie met ‘n lysie van sestig vrae.  Alles van keisersnitprosedures, tot babaversorging, tot wanneer die asjas uit die huis gaan oor twee dekades.  Alles wil ek in een aand beantwoord kry.  En Laan sit geduldig en teug aan haar koppie koffie en verduidelik en wys en demonstreer totdat al die bang weg is.

Nou is ek en sy volwasse vroue met huis en kind en kraai en manliefies en honderde take elke dag.  Maar die kere wat ons kuier is dit soos ‘n tuiskoms.  Gebind met ‘n onsigbare band van jare se daar wees en meemaak met mekaar.  Dankie, Sus, vir jare se liefde en raad en deel van my lewe wees.  Ek is baie lief vir jou.

deur Henlie Holm

SISTERS

My mother and I arrive from the maternity home. Lanie is a toddler of two. “Watch your sister”. Lanie runs to the room and fetches her most precious possession, her toy iron. She wants to give it to me. A gesture that shows her love and acceptance. She was never jealous and shared everything with me all my life, without ever complaining about it. My elder sister is such a selfless “giving person”.

I sit cross-legged on top of the kitchen cupboard. My lower lip trembles. Our mother started working full day again. I miss her and the sob is in my throat. I am too attached to my mom for a child of eight. Lanie comes into the kitchen and with one swoop she picks me up from the kitchen cupboard. I ride piggy-back from room to room while she sings and runs and neighs like a horse. The silliness makes me laugh. Then she puts a half-melted chocolate in my hand for comfort. The sticky sweetness fills my whole being and comforts me a little. “Mom will be home any minute now … and if she sees you crying, she’ll cry too.” She wipes a tear from my cheek with her right index finger. She is my Big Sister, she has always been my anchor.

It’s two years later… She is a wise lady of thirteen now. It is June holiday and freezing cold in the Free State. It is still frosty in places. Grandma and Mommy are busy in the house. “Today I’m going to teach you where babies come from,” Lanie announces with a voice that carries authority. Pinched under her arm is Uncle Jan van Elfen’s book. She drags two garden chairs closer for us to sit on behind the chicken coop. “Come, let’s begin”… She reads and reads and I gape at her open-mouthed. After each page she solemnly asks: “Any questions?” The adults are blissfully unaware of the sex education class that commenced behind the chicken coop. Two years later, Mommy also approaches me with the same Uncle Jan van Elfen booklet… ”Lanie has already taught me, Mom.” “When?” Mom was astonished. “I was ten.” My Big Sister has always been my teacher.

We are students and enjoy every moment of it. Lanie stays in the room next to mine in the student residence. During our afternoons off we climb into the bubble bath and “Nice and Easy” our hair. We eat chips in the student centre and “give marks” to the male students who pass by. Lovely, carefree days!

I live on my own now. I am alone and lonesome. Friends and family whisper “Spinster” behind their hands. I am invited to every kitchen tea and baby shower, but I experience a continuous drought – finding a soul mate is difficult! It is Sunday evening and I have the Sunday night blues. I even burnt my dinner!  A knock on the door … Standing there with a bunch of sunflowers in her arms, is Lanie.  She knows this is my favourite flower. I cry on her shoulder. “Don’t worry, everything will be alright”. She has always given me hope.

Three years later I receive a text message from her. “Sis, I gave your number to one of my volunteers and he will call you for a coffee date. His name is Robert. Don’t be obstinate now. Give the man a chance. Robert can be a great chum for you”. And that is indeed the case. After ten years of being married to my Robert, I can concur. He’s my best Tjommie. If my sister had not intervened with her practical advice and help, I would probably still be crying by myself on Sunday evenings and burnt my dinner.

I’m pregnant with our first baby, due in two weeks. Books do not always provide the answers. Lanie is bombarded with a list of sixty questions. Everything from the ceasarian procedures to baby care to leaving the house over two decades. Everything must be answered in one night. Lanie sips her coffee patiently and gently explains and shows and demonstrates until all the fear is gone.

Now we are mature women with homes, husbands and kids and hundreds of tasks every day. The times we visit each other are like coming home. We are tied with an invisible bond of years of being there for one another. Thank you, Sis, for years of love and advice and being in my life. I love you very much.

by Henlie Holm