Inspiring women making a difference

Siobhan Alford inspires her colleagues by going the extra mile for their clients at Nurture Harmony.

Although South Africans have their own day to honour women on August 9, many will also be celebrating International Women’s Day today, March 8, to campaign against inequality and gender-based violence.

To mark this day, Sentinel News spoke to three inspiring women making a difference in the Hout Bay community.

Siobhan Alford, who has been the facility manager at Nurture Harmony rehab centre on Valley Road, for three years, says helping others is her biggest passion.

“I absolutely love seeing the transformation in patients. Within a few days after admission, they literally look lighter. Also, bumping into patients months or years after treatment, seeing them with their families, living fulfilled lives, I love it,” said Ms Alford.

Tarin Wiehahn, one of the women who work with Ms Alford, said her boss goes out of the way for their clients.

“She takes them for hikes every week and meditation on Llandudno beach. She drives us to ensure that we commit to helping those who want to sort their lives out,” Ms Wiehahn told Sentinel News.

Asked what she loves about being a woman, Ms Alford said being a mother. “I think that the gift of motherhood is the best thing
ever.”

To celebrate International Women’s Day, she is spending the day with her two sons, aged 2 and 4, and taking them on a boat cruise.

Residents of Imizamo Yethu have named Tjarla Mary Norton everything from an angel to a saint.

She is the brains behind the Community Cook Up in the settlement, which feeds over 300 bellies every Friday.

The community kitchen started informally, after the raging fire of 2017.

“First it was started to assist fire victims who today are still living in the TRA’s (temporary relocation areas), but now we run a weekly feeding scheme for the kids and try to feed as many as possible, with the donations we receive,” said Ms Norton.

She loves her job because it makes her prouder each day, to be South African. “The people of IY are so resilient and there is an honest sense of community and feeling of Ubuntu.”

Many women today face constant challenges which go unnoticed by most.

“I struggle to juggle it all. Being a mom, being my own person and being there for my community.”

Asked what she loves about being a woman, Ms Norton replied: “That I don’t have a man’s brain!”

Miche Shary Cloete, a young woman living in Hangberg, nominated Alene Edson as her role model.

Ms Edson has been the project manager at the youth development centre, James House, since August 2014.

The James House on Riverside Terrace, started as a soup kitchen in 1986 but has now developed into a non-profit organisation and a registered Child Protection Agency.

“She has really showed me what it is like to be a community change agent. She helps the underprivileged kids in Hangberg and IY and truly loves them as her own,” said Ms Cloete.

In November and December last year, Ms Edson launched a drive to feed as many children as possible. The project was a huge success and she managed to reach her goal of donating 100 bags of food to the worthy cause.

“I feel so driven to continue this drive, as so many of our children are starving and there’s barely anything in their homes,” said Ms Edson.

Asked why she loves being a woman, Ms Edson said it grants her the opportunity to influence other women and young girls.

“As a woman, I am able to tackle situations with (a sense of nurturing) and understanding. We are able to rise above the hardships that life throws at us.”

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Ms Edson is taking a group of five women for a light supper, with the objective of chatting about what they have achieved and where they are headed within their womanhood.

* International Women’s Day is a globally recognised day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all around the world.

For some countries, it is a day used to protest against gender inequality and abuse, and for other countries, it is a day to appreciate womanhood.

The first National Women’s Day was organised by the Socialist Party of America in New York, on February 28, 1909. The following year, the International Socialist Women’s Conference proposed that Women’s Day be held annually.

The day was then embraced by socialist movements and communist countries, until it was adopted by the United Nations in 1975. (Information from the United Nations website).