Long walk to empowering

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August 10, 2017
Long walk to empowering

INSPIRE: Soraya Salie tells how she founded the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies 10 years ago

When the leaders of our country are blatantly acting like hypocrites, then it’s probably best for us to utilise our mainstream and social media platforms to celebrate the great individuals who dedicate their lives to help bring positive change within

And that’s purely from the goodness of their hearts and not for a Gupta pay cheque.

I think it’s time we all accept that Jacob Zuma is here to stay till 2019 and that our president’s legacy will be that he was the first man to survive Aids by taking a shower.

He would also be the first president to survive a vote of no confidence by secret ballot.

But instead of focusing on Zuma’s hold over our country during Women’s Month, let’s rather talk about the superwomen of Bonteheuwel.

Soraya Salie founded the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies 10 years ago after undergoing numerous brain surgeries and doctors said it was the end for her in 2006 when she was diagnosed with colon cancer.

In January of 2007 she left her job and she and her mother’s best friend, auntie Shariefa Lagkar, 74, started walking the streets of Bontas with the intention of trying to get fit and healthy.

Today, 10 years later, their two-woman walking party has grown to over 100 members, and it’s all about empowering women.

Soraya explains: “The intention of the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies’ initiative is to empower women because most organisations are focused on youth and the abuse of children and they forget that it’s the mothers who are faced with most of the abuse at times.”

I have spoken to the mother of the Walking Ladies many times before and she always says that the beauty of the gatherings is that they get to share their stories with one another, so helping each other with guidance and love.

Soraya says it is an initiative that has saved many a life and given mothers a new sense of hope and lus vir die lewe.

As the founder of the Walking Ladies, this inspiring woman was invited to Korea last year representing South Africa as a peace ambassador.

She also received the 2016 Women in Islam-Women in South Africa (WIWISA) award at the International Peace College South Africa (IPSA) in October last year for bringing change in her community.


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And she has been recalled to represent South Africa in Korea again this year under the banner of the International Women’s Peace Group.

It goes to show that only the Almighty can determine whether we live or die and how and when.

Within a few months of doctors “writing her off”, this Bonteheuwel mom has instead rose to the top, inspiring her friends, family and community at large by simply embracing the gift of walking.

The Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies celebrated their 10th anniversary on Monday at the Bonteheuwel Civic Centre.

These special women were treated to a meal and lekker live entertainment by singer Fuad Richards and his family.

I wish Soraya and the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies all the best for their future endeavours and may this wonderful initiative continue to grow and inspire other communities, and bring change not only in Bontas but all over the world.

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