As the world gears up to celebrate Women’s Day, we embark on a journey to spotlight the remarkable stories of strength, resilience, and impact that shape the lives of women across various corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. This Women’s Day, we are thrilled to introduce you to the diverse and inspiring narratives of both our employees and of some of the remarkable ladies who lead the charge on the ground.

In a world where progress is fueled by the collective efforts of individuals and communities, these stories stand as a testament to the unwavering commitment of women to effect positive change. From corporate corridors to grassroots endeavours, the shared narratives you’re about to encounter encapsulate the essence of empowerment, unity, and the ripple effect of meaningful action.


WomansDay2023 Rochelle

I have always been surrounded by strong women. They have shaped me into who I am today.

I am not sure that I necessarily realised it as a young child but when I look back now knowing what I do I am so thankful for all these women who had an impact on me.

They taught me many different things but the most important lesson was to believe in myself and to Never give up. These 2 life lessons have been my beacon and my guide throughout my life.

I am very fortunate that when I entered the working world at Expert the theme of the strong woman in my life continued. I work with a team of incredible women who teach me every day. Some lead through quiet strength and resilience and others with extroverted zeal and zest. But they all lead…. Different styles, different ideas, different approaches but with the common thread of being incredible and inspirational people. The best gift they give me is the confidence that when I fall down, they will be there to pick me up and lift me higher than before. That is our strength, we will never let one fall with being ready to lift them back up. We walk together, side by side.

They are bold, brave and courageous. Together we protect, we fight, we guide, we learn, we grow and we lead. We move our teams forward no matter the challenges. We find solace in each other, we find hope and solution. We stand together for a better tomorrow.

Leading is to understand when you need to grow, taking advice from others, to respect and trust each other to be the best versions of ourselves.

Every day, no matter the challenges I face, this team of extraordinary women lead me forward and make me a better version of myself. They allow me to grow, introspect and develop every single day and there is no greater gift.

To be a woman in a modern world where we are mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and working women with careers and goals is very demanding. We owe it to each other, to build each other up, motivate and support each other and most importantly celebrate each other’s success.

I want to thank every extraordinary woman in my life for shaping me to be a better me. Be courageous, be brave, be bold and inspire each other. Be kind, caring, compassionate and don’t be afraid to be emotional. After all we are all human. Be ambitious and chase your goals but remember to look out for the woman next you to support, trust and uplift. We are all stronger together. The sisterhood is a real thing and a powerful one too!

Wishing every woman out there a wonderful women’s day.


WomansDay2023 Kescha

Juggling the roles of a working mom to three children, a fur-baby, and a husband has been a profound lesson in the remarkable resilience of women. We continually push ourselves to our limits, and even when it seems impossible to carry on, we somehow summon the strength from the depths of our being. This is particularly true on those nights when you’ve been roused from sleep ten times by the baby, and your husband, seeking rest, retreats to another room!

Furthermore, my personal journey as a woman who has faced anxiety and depression has revealed to me that women possess the incredible ability to rise above, empower themselves, and assert control in the face of rock-bottom situations. Embracing womanhood has proven to be a blend of blessings and challenges, but I firmly believe it leans more toward the former. Our existence allows us to savor a broader spectrum of life experiences compared to men. After all, we are uniquely suited for such a remarkable journey.


WomansDay2023 Refilwe

My journey in the world of childcare began during my time as a receptionist at Greenside. It was there that I realized my heart’s true calling lay with children. Guided by this profound love, I embarked on a transformative path, pursuing an auxiliary course that led me to the Princess Alice Adoption Home. This experience was a turning point, igniting a deep-seated passion for nurturing and safeguarding children.

The inception of Lesedi Day Care took shape in 2012, and its doors officially opened in 2014. The driving force behind this endeavour was a burning desire to make a difference, to provide a haven for the children who live in Alexandra while their parents try their hardest for their future. Our commitment extends beyond shelter; we strive to ensure that every child receives the vital nutrition necessary for healthy development.

Our mission resonates with a profound purpose – to offer impactful services that transform lives. At the heart of our organization lies a dedication to uplift the most vulnerable segments of our community, particularly those dwelling in informal settlements. Though our journey has been strewn with challenges, we owe a debt of gratitude to the generosity of donors, notably ISER T/s Expert. Their unwavering support has propelled us forward, reaffirming our belief in the power of collaboration and giving.

In the embrace of Lesedi Day Care, we currently nurture 48 young souls, guided by three devoted teachers and a skilled cook who prepares nourishing meals, essential for their growth.

As a mother of four, I can’t help but see a bit of my own children in every little one who walks through our doors.

Looking ahead, my big dream is to open an adoption centre, just like the one at Princess Alice Adoption Home.

Valerie Hilary De Jager

WomansDay2023 Valerie 1

My love for children has motivated me to fulfil my dream of working with them. It all began in our church, where I became a Sunday school teacher and have continued until the present day. In 2017, I had the privilege of meeting an amazing lady named Rochelle Fowlds, who organized a Christmas party for the children in our community. As promised, Rochelle reached out to me again in 2018, and together we started a soup kitchen on Easter Monday.

In 2019, my world was turned upside down when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and subsequently passed away in August. I was devastated and lost, but by God’s grace, the soup kitchen became a source of motivation for me to work through my grief. I had to muster the strength to rise, gather supplies, distribute food, and ensure that the kitchen’s operations continued. Even during the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic, we managed to have an incredible impact on our community.

Life has presented me with many trials, but through it all, God has remained faithful and showered me with blessings. The sheer existence of my blessed life brings tears to my eyes. In 2020, Rochelle’s kindness extended even further as she offered to build a creche for me. Her boundless generosity knows no limits, and I am profoundly grateful for her unwavering support.

In 2021, we proudly opened the doors of “Little Angels Preschool,” our creche. Fueled by determination, I began with 18 children and was blessed with daily provisions for their meals. Rochelle’s incredible support continues to this day, as she tirelessly contributes to our community’s well-being. I aptly named our soup kitchen “Love Conquers All,” a testament to the power of love in overcoming adversity.

My journey has been intertwined with the extraordinary kindness of others. Jo Anne Kerr nominated me for the Community Heroes program, resulting in a generous R12,000 donation for equipment such as gas stoves, cylinders, pots, and more. Through the efforts of various individuals, we established six touchpoints in our community, where dedicated ladies cook and serve meals to 70 children each week.

Tragedy struck once more in November 2020 when I lost my father, who had been instrumental in building the creche alongside family friend Ernest Alcott. Their labour was completed on November 23rd, the same day my father passed away. Once again, God’s presence guided me through the grieving process, and my commitment to community service provided solace.

In December 2022, I selflessly took on the responsibility of raising my cousin’s baby due to her postnatal psychosis diagnosis. As I embarked on this new journey, I was surprised by a generous donation of groceries from Beverley Swartz of the Catholic Church. The community’s support was heartwarming, and my angel Rochelle continued to contribute, providing funds for insulation and a precast wall for the creche.

The culmination of these efforts came to fruition when, on April 26th, the Sacred Heart Catholic Church initiated the construction of our new creche, which was completed on May 10th. This endeavor introduced me to the organization Caritas, an initiative reaching out to needy communities by providing food packs.

I am truly blessed by the ongoing support I receive, even from unexpected corners of the world like Switzerland, where Mill and other individuals connected to my parents have extended their kindness. With an incredible support system behind me, I am empowered to make a difference in our community, particularly in the lives of the children I affectionately refer to as “die kleinmensies.”

This is my story—a testament to God’s grace and my unwavering commitment to go above and beyond expectations in service to others.

A list of all my sponsors:

  • Rochelle Klopper Fowlds
  • Jo Anne Kerr
  • Georgina Hounsfield
  • Renee Hoffmeyer
  • Jillian Baatjies
  • Winique Williams
  • Manlyn Davis
  • Jocelyn Goldberg
  • Nicola Felder
  • Thinus Terblanche
  • Dewald Strydom
  • Storehouse Church
  • Sacred Heart Catholic Church
  • Victory of Hope Ministries
  • Wendy Benade
  • Round Table 108
  • Altona Primary School
  • Caritas


WomansDay2023 Christalene

Since 2020, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with an inspiring organization known as Community Developmental Projects (CDP). This organization is fully committed to creating a positive impact within the Noordgesig community. Our primary focus has been on education and the arts, with the goal of enriching the lives of the local residents.

Right within this vibrant neighbourhood, we’ve been running art classes that ignite creativity and reading programs that act as gateways to knowledge for young learners in primary school. Moreover, our support extends to high school students. We offer them valuable guidance on career paths, interview techniques, and extra lessons. Our aim is to ensure that they’re well-prepared for their academic journeys, including the often-challenging process of university registration.

One of the standout initiatives I’ve taken the lead on is a mentorship program. This program thoughtfully pairs two accomplished students from each grade. By doing so, we provide them with guidance and expose them to a broader world beyond their immediate surroundings. Overseeing and driving this program forward has been an incredibly rewarding responsibility for me.

In addition to spearheading the mentorship program, I’m also responsible for managing the financial reporting for our various projects. I play a pivotal role in securing book donations that support our reading program. Furthermore, I actively contribute to the facilitation of university registrations and work to enhance the interview skills of those we assist.

My dedication to these projects is fueled by a profound passion for making a genuine difference in the lives of the children we engage with. Observing the positive transformations and growth of these young individuals continuously reinforces the importance of the work we’re doing and strengthens my commitment to this cause.


WomansDay2023 Shakeelah

I am Shakeelah Mentor, born on February 26, 1971, and proud to call Eldorado Park my hometown. Raised among a total of nine siblings—eight brothers, with sadly only four remaining—my journey has been one of overcoming adversity. Eldorado Park, though notorious for its dangers, has shaped me into a resilient individual. Situated in the southern part of Johannesburg, this area has battled gangsterism, drug-related challenges, and much more.

My upbringing was far from easy, as I navigated through a series of hardships, including physical confrontations, gender-based disrespect, and the trauma of molestation. Tragically, I also experienced the heartbreak of losing my daughter. However, these trials only fueled my inner strength, shaping me into a woman who refuses to be silenced. I’ve become a beacon of empowerment for both me and those who surround me.

Prioritizing self-love and self-respect have been paramount on my journey. Despite the daily hurdles, I consistently present my best self to the world. This commitment to self-care is a testament to my determination and motivates me to inspire those in my sphere. I carry myself with a constant smile, unwaveringly facing life’s challenges, and embracing my uniqueness.

The resonating lyrics of a renowned artist, Mary J. Blige, echo in my heart:

“ Wake Up Every Morning And Tell Myself

“Good Morning Gorgeous”

Sometimes You Gotta Look In The Mirror And Say

“Good Morning Gorgeous”

No One Else Could Make Me Feel This Way

Good Morning Gorgeous”

These words encapsulate my philosophy, mirroring the strength and positivity that propel me forward each day. I am Shakeelah Mentor, a testament to resilience, a harbinger of self-love, and a source of inspiration to all around me.


WomansDay2023 Tumi

Looking back, I think of two pivotal moments in my life that shaped my career choices. The first was when I was an 18-year-old walking away from school because there were unfortunately no funds to cover my fees. I was doing my second year of a National Diploma in Accounting at TUT. I had always thought that I was going to be a Chartered Accountant, which now, in hindsight, I think was misguided by my high school results.

The second was when I quit my job as a Claims Consultant at Telesure to start a juice business at the age of 24. This is what led me to go back to school and study Supply Chain Management. Studying for my undergrad while full-time employed was hard, but doing research methodology and studying for a post-grad while pregnant and ultimately being a first-time mom was way more difficult. I guess you never know the power within until you are faced with circumstances that force you to be strong.

Lessons learned thus far in my personal and professional lives:

  • Challenges and growth go hand in hand.
  • No season is ever wasted if you water the ground well (even in seasons of failure).
  • You can change the past; it doesn’t have to rule your entire future.
  • Plant seeds of kindness everywhere you go; you might need the shade sooner than you think.

On this Women’s Day, let us carry forward the lessons learned from these remarkable women and channel their energy into our own lives. Whether through a simple act of kindness or a commitment to driving change, each of us has the ability to contribute to a more inclusive and compassionate world.

As we celebrate the achievements of women past, present, and future, let us also acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead. It is through the unwavering dedication of individuals and the resilience of communities that we can pave the way for a brighter and more equitable tomorrow.

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