Mapula Embroideries News Flash

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Mapula Embroidery Project has, since December 2016, been registered as THE MAPULA EMBROIDERY TRUST and will from now on be introduced to the public as Mapula Embroideries. Mapula Embroideries is therefore now an independent entity under the auspices of THE MAPULA EMBROIDERY TRUST, with its separate NPO (Non-Profit Organisation) number. Soroptimist International Pretoria Club initiated this project in 1991. With the committed support of the SI Pretoria-Tshwane Club and Soroptimists in South Africa and worldwide the project has managed to reach this milestone and looks forward to a sustainable and successful future under the MAPULA EMBROIDERY TRUST with ongoing Soroptimist support.

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Soroptimists contribute towards fire relief

The Soroptimists of South Africa contributed R20 200 towards the needs of the fire fighter and other people in communities affected by the recent fires in Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Port Elizabeth.

Communication via social media quickly had members pulling together to assist those affected by the unprecedented wildfires.

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SISA Conference 2017

The 52nd SISA Annual Conference and AGM will be hosted by SI Durban from 1 to 3 September 2017.

Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland Federation President Ann Hodgson will be the guest of honour at this Conference.


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Message from SISA President


SISA President Laurel Becker

After being a Soroptimist for over 20 years, it is a great privilege to be able to serve as the SISA national president. South Africa is a land of great women and every opportunity for Soroptimists to do much to contribute to educating, enabling and empowering women and girls.

All the SI clubs in South Africa have projects which are worthwhile and effective.

My hope is that each member of SISA will realize her full potential as we strive together to serve our communities.

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SISA AGM and Conference 2016

The 51st SISA AGM and Conference took place in Pretoria from 2 to 4 September 2016. It was attended by over 40 delegates and observers from over South Africa, with Berit Smestad Paulsen, President of SI Oslo in Norway adding an international flavour to the event.

The welcome function took the form of a  delightful wine tasting evening for Soroptimists and friends. On the Saturday, SISA executive members reported on their activities and the AGM took place.

More than 80 Soroptimists and their guests attended a Gala Dinner as part of the annual SISA Conference this year. The guest speaker was Elsabé Brits (with Cecilia Penzhorn, photo below right, second from top), journalist and author of the acclaimed book, Beloved Traitor, on the life of Emily Hobhouse.

A change of insignia took place at the gala event, when Dr Laurel Becker of the SI Pretoria-Tshwane Club was installed as new SISA President. Outgoing President Lisette Genseberger passed on the chain of office and she, in turn, received her Immediate Past President’s badge (photo below, top left) and a gift along with thanks for her leadership over the previous two years.

On the Sunday morning, delegates reported on their clubs’ programme action activities.

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SISA 2016 Conference and AGM

Soroptimist International South Africa’s 51st Conference and Annual General Meeting will be held at the Courtyard Hotel, Arcadia, Pretoria from 2 to 4 September 2016. More information and registration forms are available from your Club Secretary or the Conference Secretary at Discounted early bird rates are available until 10 July.

AGM logo

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SI Pretoria and SI Tshwane now SI Pretoria-Tshwane

The SI Pretoria Club and the SI Tshwane club, after long deliberation and hard work in the background, amalgamated to form one strong club called SI Pretoria-Tshwane. The chartering of the new club took place on Saturday, 28 May 2016 at the Pretoria Country Club. The Soroptimist International South Africa President, Lisette Genseberger was the honoured guest and the SI Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) chartering officer at this occasion.

Club Charter1

SI Pretoria-Tshwane Club Presidents Laurel Becker (left) and Sally Currin (right) with SISA President Lisette Genseberger

Three new members were inducted at the merger of the two clubs. In the photos below are SISA President Lisette Genseberger with, from the left, Sisa Mhlanga, Marina Petrou and Jose Vermeij.

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Val turns 90

Val Christoffersen of SI Cape of Good Hope turned 90 this month. Celebrations included a high tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, lunch with friends and her daughter from Australia, and celebrations at the Club meeting. She is well-known among Soroptimists all over South Africa and further afield. In Val’s own words:

” In reaching the age of 90 I am amazed and grateful to find myself with still an enormous amount of mental energy and, whilst I am not running to catch a bus anymore, I am in
reasonably good physical shape too.   This of course makes it possible to continue being a useful member of our S.I.Cape of Good Hope Club in which I have spent one third of my life.   For one who was an only child, I did not know that I would have such a big family later on in life – friends and wonderful women who are always there for each other whilst they continue to serve our community with its tremendous needs for the upliftment of women and children.  I have made friends worldwide with fellow-Soroptimists both
in their countries and entertaining them here in my home and within our Club. Soroptimism has been, and still is, a most privileged part of my life.”Val Christofferson

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Soroptimist International South Africa’s April Road Trip

By Lisette Genseberger, SI South Africa President 2014-2016, FECC Councillor South Africa

My trip began with a 75-minute internal flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth on 14 April.  I was there as a guest of the Port Elizabeth club which was organising an Art Auction that evening at the Old Tramways building.  I arrived as members were setting up art easels, food tables and issuing last minute instructions.  The event itself was a great success. Almost all the art on display was ably and efficiently auctioned off by the 2 Sisters Auctioneers in Port Elizabeth. Only one sister was present that evening but her knowledge, flair and experience in one so young was truly impressive to behold!

The next part of my journey started the next day together with our Soroptimist International South Africa(SISA) President-elect Laurel Becker and Elna Maree, our National Secretary. Our journey that day would take us to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape and home to our youngest club, King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) which was chartered two years ago.  This club is situated 480 km from Port Elizabeth and 425 km from Durban, both cities where the nearest clubs are situated.

The reason for our visit was to run a Workshop on Membership and Club Management.  The visit was made possible by a SIGBI Membership and Organisational Grant for which we were very thankful.

It is vital to communicate with such a young club, especially in the first couple of years.  In South Africa many clubs are situated more than 1000 km apart and our Annual AGM is often the only time we can meet on a more personal level.

The journey was long but the scenery was breath-taking as we passed through many villages and small towns.  The national road was excellent but the potholes in the towns were dreadful and especially frightening as we entered Mthatha early evening in the dark and were at first unable to find our Bed and Breakfast as we wound our way around barely visible potholes.  We were subsequently warmly received by a few members of KSD with fruit and cake and then headed to bed for a much needed early night.

Our workshop was held in the laboratory of member Irene Kolosa as the air-conditioning was not working in her boardroom.  In Africa, we do not fuss, we make a plan and gently relocated a few microscopes to allow space for our notes.  The weather outside was at least 35 degrees, so cool air was much appreciated.  We started our morning by inducting SI KSD’s new president, Irene Kolosa and it was indeed fitting to do so in her own laboratory.  Irene has worked tirelessly during the past five years in order for KSD to be chartered two years ago.  Project work is her passion and drive within her community and the club was well represented with 13 members attending the workshop.

We covered topics such as Club Role Specifications, Management of Meetings, Finance (Capitation fees, Budget) Sustainable Development Goals, On-line Database, Fundraising, SIGBI Website and how to access information and the role of Friendship Links.  SI KSD proudly showed us the certificate of their new link SI Hamilton in Scotland South.  I reiterated to the club members that all the information we used could be found on the SIGBI website.

After a late lunch we visited Bethany Home for abused and abandoned babies and children up to the age of six years.  This is one of the club’s main projects and clearly a home where love and caring is abundant but also much in need for general renovations within the home.

We ended the day with a visit to the home of President Irene Kolosa where she proudly showed us the fairly large piece of land she shares with various family members. There is also a small spaza shop run by Jamal from Pakistan and her old family rondavel (home) that she lived in as a child with her parents.  There is land for the cattle and vegetable gardens and we were all treated to a white mielie and took home a huge butternut from her garden!

The warmth and hospitality we all received from our Soroptimist sisters in Mthatha will remain in our memory for a long time and I have been told that the club really appreciated the time we took to travel to visit them and to share our expertise in Soroptimist matters. We thank SIGBI for giving us this opportunity to spread our wings, take a trip together and share our Soroptimist journey with our Soroptimist sisters worldwide.

Photos: Top: Visit to Bethany Home. Bottom from left: Newly inducted SI KSD president Irene Kolosa with SISA president Lisette Genseberger; Visit to Irene Kolosa’s home; Members of SI KSD attending the workshop.


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Letter from the SISA President

January 2016

I would like to start by wishing all the South African Soroptimists a productive, happy and fun-filled year. I am now in my second term of office and am still energised and driven to help make a difference in the lives of women and girls in our country. We are living in difficult and turbulent times but this only makes us stronger and more determined to help where we can.

I once again had the privilege to attend the SIGBI conference, this time in Glasgow last November and one of the highlights for me was that I was invited to meet HRH Princess Anne who spoke on her “Save the Children Fund”. Networking, speaking to a Resolution we submitted and accepting the Environmental Sustainability award on behalf of my club, SI Cape of Good Hope were other highlights of this conference.

We voted to support The Meru Women’s Garden project in Kenya as the new SIGBI project for 2016-2019. Yvonne Simpson, SI President also gave us some background on her President’s appeal 2015-2017 – Educate to Lead: Nepal. She thanked all those clubs and members who had already generously supported SI Kathmandu in Nepal to help rebuild their lives after the devastating earthquakes last year. The aim of the appeal is to raise 320 000 pounds which, as SI President Yvonne said, is the equivalent of a coffee and cake for each Soroptimist member throughout the world.

Margaret Emsley was inducted as our new SIGBI president and her theme for the following year is “Engineering the Future” partially motivated by her own career. Margaret also intends to embrace the wider topic of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The aim is to raise awareness of career opportunities in STEM for young girls. My challenge for you this year is to share those project successes which embrace the above ideals.

SIGBI has also launched a Membership campaign which will focus on different topics during the following five months. The ‘Ask me why I am a Soroptimist” slogan will be used to facilitate and engage prospective members to join this incredible organisation. Please share your stories and events on your club Facebook pages, websites and of course the SIGBI Magazine.

On a local level SI Port Elizabeth is busy preparing for the SI South Africa Art Auction on the 14th April 2016. We are encouraged to submit art works which will help make this a successful event.

Our National Executive will continue to help and monitor clubs in South Africa that need our help and a Membership Workshop is planned for the 16th April 2016, in Mthatha for the members of SI KSD.

I look forward to your continued support this year.

You are all one of a kind!

Lisette Genseberger

SISA President


Left to right are Laurel Becker, Pamela James, Lisette Genseberger, Ann Garvie and Yatisha Ramdarie.

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