Zuenè Taljaard is a 33 year old lecturer with a great love for her family and friends and a passion for people, to uplift and encourage them, through the grace of God.
“My heart is for the broken. I have helped at various rural children’s homes, assisted by giving children a Christmas party and presents. Each year I choose one charity that I focus on helping. As a lecturer, I can easily and confidently speak to people, I listen to their hurts and cries and then try to uplift them and their circumstances.
“After many bumps and bruises in my life, I was sitting in church one morning earlier this year, and turned to my husband and said, “I think I found my calling in life!”. Stunned that I dared to speak during the service, he whispered back, “What?”, and I replied, “I want to help people find hope again!”. As you can imagine, it was quite the revelation to finally realise this after 33 years on this earth, but I guess you have to experience some ups and a whole lot of lows to really discover who you are, what you want and who are meant to be as a person.
I suffer from various physical and mental illnesses, and I had come to a point in my life where I had, for the longest time, been wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt, feeling unworthy and unloved, wearing the appropriate mask at the appropriate time. The more my physical health deteriorated, the more my mental health did too, and vice versa. In March of this year, all my walls came tumbling down, and I had to make the decision to either give up, or get up and fight. Let me tell you, it was the most difficult decision of my life, but through the grace of God, I made the correct choice, and I am still fighting every single day. My motivation? To help others find hope again. By focusing my attention on helping others, and taking the focus off myself for once, I have found my own hope again, trying to give back to my family, my church and my community.
With this new frame of mind and through the encouragement of family and friends, I entered the Humanitarian of the Year Competition, never dreaming that I would make it this far. I entered with one goal in mind, to spread the message of hope. This platform has given me the perfect opportunity to do so as it runs various charitable drives throughout the year, which we as finalists need to be involved with. These campaigns ranges from Homeless Pets-, No Bullying-, CANSA-, Literacy- and HIV-awareness and fundraising events. We also support our own “Charity of Choice”. Mine is the Peas in a Pod Safe House for Girls, who supports girls who have no one to take care of them. They currently host 14 girls, with three housemothers caring for them and are totally dependent on donations and sponsors. These are the most well behaved, well spoken, grateful, and sunshine-filled, loving girls you will ever meet. My family and I love spending time with them, for when we leave, we are the ones walking away feeling blessed with our spirits renewed, due to their positive and loving outlook in life. May I live my life every day the way they do.
Although it has by far been the most exhausting project I have undertaken in my life, it has also been one of the most rewarding. There is no price tag to see the smile on the face of someone who receives a plate of food, or the appreciation on the face of a child that receives their first book for the first time in their life, or the sadness in the eyes of an elderly whose children have abandoned them, or the courage of a patient suffering from cancer. It humbles you to the core. I am living my dream. I believe I am spreading hope. To borrow a line from one of my favourite artists: “Make a better place for you and for me”.
To vote for her as the Humanitarian of the Year, SMS “Zuenè Taljaard” to 35959. (R3/SMS)
2. Adele Wotherspoon
Adele Wotherspoon is a wife, mother, business owner, entrepreneur and humanitarian. She is also Mrs Africa Globe Classic.
“I support several charities, my Mrs Africa charities are Dignity Dreams and Deskbags, my community projects include: Tower of Life; Cradle of Hope and Mugg & Tree, and my own NGO is: assoSHEation, a Womens’ Networking Breakfast to empower women. I am the current Mrs Africa Globe Classic, but the title is only a title if it is used to make a difference and only then it becomes much more. It becomes Hope, Love and Change, and through this we are even able to experience a few miracles.
You might ask yourself then: “Why enter Humanitarian of the Year??”
I entered Humanitarian of the Year 2018 because I want this amazing platform to become part of my legacy. I feel a deep sense of pride to be a Top 3 Finalist for the Humanitarian of the Year. So far it has been a journey of growth, accomplishments, obstacles and cherished moments, doing the work that fills my soul.
In my many interactions, nothing brought me more joy than seeing a smile on the faces of the many people I came across, young or old it did not matter, but what mattered was the joy and hope one could see. Knowing that all it takes is love, compassion and a genuine heart.
The event that is the closest to my heart is my most resent socks drive for the homeless. Socks are the least donated item of clothing in homeless shelters. It is sad that a small item that we so easily take for granted means so much to homeless people.
I had the opportunity to be a model for our dress sponsor HSC at the resent Wedding Show. I was also a special guest at the book launch of Stacey Fru’s 3rd book and Foundation. Stacy launched her first book at the age of only seven, she is now 11. For Mandela Day we had the opportunity to deliver books to disadvantage communities. We were taken completely out of our comfort zones when we had to talk to kids of the Thaba Tshwane Primary School about No Bullying. The highlight for Mandela Day was our visit to Nicus Lodge, taking them toiletries.
I was also invited by Dennis Lloyd to attend his 21 year in the fashion industry celebration and was a VIP guest at Miss Centurion. I was also invited to The Travel Bags Function.
What I am most proud of my journey so far is my No Bullying video that I created with my very dear friend Bantu. I will be making a few changes so that I can use this to continue promote NO Bullying.
I look forward to our Hope Shoot for Breast Cancer Warriors and my own events in support the 6 projects of The Humanitarian of the Year. I will continue my journey with my favourite quote in mind: “We can’t all do great things but we can do small things with great love” – Mother Theresa.
To vote for her as the Humanitarian of the Year, SMS “Adele Wotherspoon” to 35959. (R3/SMS)
3. Erica Pienaar
Erica Pienaar considers herself to be passionate & considerate. She is committed to helping grade 12 learners, showing them that with hard work, comes success.
“I was one of the founding members of Princess Project, 12 years ago. We assist young girls and boys to attend their matric farewell. Through this work I believe that I make a difference in their lives.
As part of my journey during the Humanitarian of the Year competition, I had the privileged to get to know a lot of inspiring people. People who wants to make a difference in the lives of other, the type of people who put their needs far below others. Each one driven with compassion, empathy and love in their hearts, who wants to see their fellow South Africans thrive and rise above their circumstances. Whether you are poor, disabled or battling with mental illness, we all can make a difference if we stand together as one.
The Princess Project was established 12 years ago, starting its first branch in Bellville, Cape Town. The first group of girls we helped was at a school in Goodwood. One of these girls had been taken away from her parents by Social Services and placed in the care of her grandmother. She was beautiful, but had such a sad story to tell. The night before her dance, her Mothers’ boyfriend whom she thought might be her father, physically assaulted her. Due to this, she was unable to attend he Grade 12, Matric Dance and it really hit a soft spot in my heart. This was the start, of a journey that I will never forget. This was the start of The Princess Project.
This competition has changed my life in so many different ways, opening doors The Princess Project. People have starting taking note of our little project and we have received many donations, since that we are going to make an even bigger difference! Helping Grade 12 students attend their Matric Dance is real style is helps them with their self-confidence, self-worth and even just an add touch of happiness. It might not seem important to others, but due to so many challenges that our youth face children stand the risk of not completing their high school. Thus, increasing the unemployment and crime rates. Children need to know that with hard work, they can achieve anything they set their minds too.
To all my volunteers across South Africa: Thank you for being part of my humble little charity, The Princess Project. For all of the advice and wise words I have received over the last several years and all of the incredible strength you’ve helped me to see in myself.
I know that with you by my side, I am even stronger more capable to achieve anything I set my mind to”.
To vote for her as the Humanitarian of the Year, SMS “Erica Pienaar” to 35959. (R3/SMS)