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.