AUGUST 2019 - Celebrating the amazing women of Stellenbosch

Photo: A coffee date with a number of influential women of Stellenbosch at Nude Coffee in the Eikestad Mall. In front (from left) are Abongile Kwaza, Liesel Koen, Greteli Fincham, Marthie Nel Hauptfleisch and Leatitia Solomons. Photo: Robin Thuynsma

As part of Women’s Month, the Eikestad Mall invited five vibrant, successful and influential women from Stellenbosch to coffee and a delicious freshly made breakfast at Nude Coffee to chat about what has inspired them to reach their goals, talk about their role models and what the future holds for each of them. The group consisted of five women from different walks of life.

Abongile Kwaza is a licensed social worker and ambassador of the Help A Girl Campaign, which aims to promote free sanitary products for young girls, teach them about puberty and navigating young adulthood.

 

Apart from her social work, she spends a lot of time in her community, mentoring young women. She grew up in Stellenbosch and attended Kayamandi High School. She still gets excited when she is invited back to speak to the young women attending school today.

 

The Help a Girl Campaign has a much wider reach however, and their programme helps women across the Eastern and Western Cape. “It is about more than just giving these young girls access to the products they need.

 

 It is about teaching self esteem, self love and self confidence.” Abby’s biggest dream is to be able to write an inspirational book based on her life. “I want to be able to teach and inspire others through my journey. I want to show young people that they can achieve anything.”

 

She spoils herself by taking time out in nature, especially hiking. “And I do love doing my nails! I spoil myself with beauty products and you will easily find me in a makeup shop!”

Greteli Fincham has been making a name for herself even though she is still completing matric at Stellenbosch High School. Her acting career took off in the last two year and she now has a leading role in the popular Afrikaans series Alles Malan.

 

“I wanted to give up the idea of acting. I was told I was too young or didn’t fit the role after every audition. But then I was cast in Dwaalster two years ago. Although this was a small role, it reignited my passion for acting!” Her leading role in Alles Malan has helped fuel this fire. She was also cast as a supporting lead in a new Netflix series which will air soon.

 

“I was lucky to grow up in a very supportive home. My mom is a wonderful role model and she has taught me so much about faith and life. I am also inspired by many other women in my life. It’s like my life is a planter box, with each mentor sowing a different seed to help me grow into a beautiful variety of colour.

 

“In my industry it is hard to stay grounded and it is good to be surrounded by people who instil real values. In this regard Simoné Nortmann has played a major role, planting a seed to stay humble and to keep my faith alive,” said Greteli.

 

Her biggest goal is to finish matric this year. She then wants to continue her acting career, learning as she grows. “I want to be able to act, but at the same time stay grounded. It is difficult to portray a character and not be consumed by it. I want to be able to play a role and return to being myself.”

 

She spoils herself by visiting second‐hand shops, looking for hidden treasures. Her weakness is also any stationary store.

Liesel Koen has been the manager of the local charity Feeding in Action for over ten years and has been instrumental in feeding the poor with 45 feeding points throughout Stellenbosch. Her dream for Feeding in Action is to keep on expanding the platform, giving a safe harbour to those in need, especially children. She would also like to expand their reach by working in conjunction with other organisations in the community.

 

Liesel has many role models, of which her mother, Ina Muller, was her biggest inspiration laying the foundation for her community work. “My mother loved unconditionally and was always there to inspire and pray for me, even during the most difficult of times. She passed away just as I started my journey with Feeding in Action.

 

“My two daughters are also a source of huge inspiration. My eldest has been living in Europe for 10 years and has just completed a double Masters degree through the Rijks University in Groningen and the George August University in Gottingen. Talitha, the younger is still at Bloemhof and has dreams to become a human rights lawyer after she graduates.” Other than her family, she has been inspired by many local women who have helped to build the organisation which Liesel now runs. This includes the founder Dr Dora Steyn and Marthie Heyl and later Marthie Zwiegers. Feeding in Action currently has 45 feeding points in 12 communities throughout Stellenbosch, feeding around 5000 people weekly. “I feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful chain that has brought so many people across my path.”

 

As a single mom of four, Liesel has always been focused on other people, but her love for the community goes deeper than only family. “I have always dreamed of working in ministry and it would be wonderful to achieve this dream.”

 

Liesel has a real passion for music and will spoil herself with a concert. “I recently went to see Andrea Bocelli and it was a wonderful experience!” She also admits that she attended Ed Sheeran with her daughter and that she absolutely loved it!

Marthie Nel Hauptfleisch has a number of titles. She is a nurse, specialising in podiatry, but is better known as a singer, song‐writer, performer and playwright. Her music focuses especially on

edutainment and you will find her at many charitable events where she will inspire and teach children through song.

 

“My mom, Petra Nel, has been my greatest inspiration. She was always involved with the community, literally building churches and old age homes!” Marthie has since decided to expand her own knowledge and is currently studying psychology as an undergraduate. She is hoping to go all the way to her masters degree.

 

“My vision has always been to inspire people to live with purpose. I want to inspire people through music and art and to create awareness. I want to light a fire in people.”

 

Marthie relaxes with nature photography. “I believe in taking pictures rather than picking flowers!” She also admits that she visits Marcel’s for ice cream at least once a week!

Leatitia Solomons is an actress, motivational speaker, role model and mentor to many, but known as a local taxi driver. Her one‐woman show Die Begrafnis was a huge success at the US Woordfees and will soon also be available as a film. She is also known for her reality television series Leatitia se Taxi which airs on Via.

 

Leatitia is a third generation taxi driver and grew up in Stellenbosch. She was raised by a group of strong women who instilled her a love for the community. “I was raised by a village!” She worked in the wine industry for a time, but her passion for the stage took precedence and after

ten years she quit to study acting under Dr Benoni Dehaeck at the Breughel Theatre in Cloetesville.

 

“He was already in his 80’s when I started training and we even spent time training in his old age home where he gave me lessons!” tells Leatitia. “I think in a way we saved each other and learnt a lot from each other.” Dr Dehaeck passed away at the age of 93 in 2017. She stays down to earth by still driving her taxi. “Its not a glamorous job and I can see all of my characters in the back when I am driving.” Her dream is to bring about change in other people’s lives. “Leatitia se Taxi has changed my life and I am hoping that it would do the same for other people.”

 

Her long term goal to expand her writing skills as playwright. She spoils herself by having her nails done. “Hands, feet, the full monty! It’s a great way to relax after weeks on set.” She also likes to escape by spending time on the West Coast with her hubby.

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