Pretoria’s summer is scorchingly hot and 13 February was no exception. The temperature was 30 degrees Celsius, but deep inside I was trembling. I was super cold and scared out of my wits.
Were these wild thoughts and feelings justifiable? Of course: a Mosotho girl in a predominantly white Afrikaans old age home – what was she thinking? Was it the right choice? It sounded like career suicide. Was she capable of making a difference in the older people’s lives, would they ever accept her? I think paranoia was setting in.
Social work is my passion, I am dedicated to my work and very compassionate.
I love and respect all people, but my fear of the unknown kept singing me a song of self-doubt. This four letter word “fear” showed me all the possible things that could go wrong and most of the time I entertained it. Yes, I believed it.
Then, she said to me: “It is normal to be worried because people speak Afrikaans, but they are just like us and you have it in you to make a difference in their lives.” Those were Mrs Wie’s words, but my fearful voice said: “She does not know what she is talking about”. In hindsight, she had a point – she believed in me. Sometimes in life we need just that, a gentle push and someone whose faith in your abilities is much stronger than in your fears, to help you realize your true potential.
I allowed myself to take the road less travelled and to face my fears. I think choosing SAVF Margaretha Ackerman Old Age Home, was a blessing waiting to happen. This was one mission I had to successfully accomplish and with a little bit of faith in myself and the support of my practice lecturer, I was ready.
The Home warmly opened its doors to me and I never looked back. That is how that “cold” summer’s day gave way to the warmest winter of my life!
Opening the front door of the home, being met by the lovely and warm faces of Susan, Jurina, Mr Van Dyk and Mrs Botes, made the winter blues evaporate like snowflakes melted by the warm rays of the sun.
The gentle touch of Susan (supposed to warm my hands), the delightful Dezi, optimistic Mr De Meyer, my favourite artists Oom Johnny and Mrs Ashborne, Mrs Venter’s never-ending life lessons, the sweet melodies of Danie and the choir, and, the forever young Jan Hattingh! These are some of the people that made it worthwhile. “Hulle het gekruip in my hart en ek het deel gevoel van die familie”.
Yes, I laughed at Ntate Frans’s jokes till my tummy ached, we embraced each other and celebrated our achievements. But the pain of losing loved ones in the home was just as intense. The loving and generous soul of Elise, Mr Welthagen, who reminded me that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and Jakkals who made me believe in love again. May your souls rest in peace.
I am hopping into spring with renewed energy, fearless and very self-confident, my life has been touched by angels in more than one way. I shall cherish this humbling experience for the rest of my life.
“Uiteindelik het ek ‘n gevoel gehad van ‘behoort’. I saw my life in colour, thank you SAVF!”
Student Social Worker, since qualified as Social Worker.
Extract from the “Kleur ‘n lewe – Colour a life” booklet, with real life stories from SAVF.