Women join to make a difference

Some of the women of the Mothers in Action meet at Dawn Roode's home. They are, from left, Pearl Benjamin, donor Bisho Mulaudzi, Lielanie Africa, Charlene Tiemie, Joscelyn Beukes, Amanda Pringle-Williams and Dawn Roode.

Some unemployed mothers in Kuils River are using their spare time to build the community.

Mothers in Action, as they have called themselves, are an informal group of volunteers under the leadership of Dawn Roode.

Ms Roode, is an ex- teacher who took early retirement.

She said despite getting several job offers, she preferred to do voluntary work in her community instead.

She has become well-known in the area as a philanthropist and calls herself a community activist.

“We don’t like to chat-a-rat a lot,” Ms Roode said.

“Because when there is a concern, our actions should speak louder than our words.”

Her house in Brantwood has become a hub for the conveyor belt of donations that flows through group. Any cause, any need, the women will take it on.

Ms Roode said their volunteerism played an important role in the community because employed people did not have the time to do voluntary work.

“When you come out of work, you don’t still want to work in a soup kitchen,” she said.

The reasons for unemployment in the group vary.

Joscelyn Beukes, of Highbury, is a theology graduate.

For her, the volunteerism started off as something to fill the time until a job at a church came along, but now she is looking at going into full-time NGO work.

Lielanie Africa, of Sarepta, is in a wheelchair and gets a disability grant.

She met “Auntie Dawn” when a fellow resident invited her to come and do “free shopping” at Ms Roode’s home.

But when she got there, Ms Roode was quick to put her to work doing whatever she was able to do.

When MIA heard that Ms Africa had once played netball, they asked her to coach the local team and she agreed.

“I enjoy it,” she said.

Charlene Tiemie, of Sarepta, lost her job after long-term hospital treatment for multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB.

“I had TB in 1993,” she said.

Ms Tiemie said she developed MDR when she stopped collecting her medication at the clinic because she felt the nurse administering it was rude and uncaring.

When the illness nearly claimed her life, she decided to do something to prevent the same thing from happening to other people and so registered as a TB support volunteer: “So that I can give others the information that the nurses didn’t give me. I wanted to help my community.”

As a result, her neighbours started coming to her for help for all sorts of problems, and she realised she didn’t have the resources to help all of them.

“I came to Dawn to ask for help,” she said.

Amanda Pringle-Williams, of Haasendal, used to work in Telkom, for the company’s outreach projects.

“But I felt like I wasn’t doing enough,” she said.

She left Telkom with the idea of starting her own NGO and has been working with MIA since then.

“My passion is more with children,” she said.

The women all have another thing in common: their neighbours all turn to them for advice about every kind of problem imaginable and each of them has become a mother of the community in their own neighbouhoods.

“When you hurt a mother, you hurt a community,” Ms Beukes said.

“Let’s all join hands, let’s support each other.”