My name is Stella.
As a young school girl, my dream was to attend University. My family, however, did not believe this was necessary. They believed in work and life ethics. These were honesty, dignity at all times, getting on with people from all walks of life and most important of all, if you want something, you work for it!! Nothing comes easy. Because of this, I started my “adult” life with nothing more than a matric.
I married young, ended up divorced with 2 small children, no financial assistance, no car, no money and this brought to the fore what I had been taught. If I wanted something, I had to work for it!
I was determined to achieve and, with a belief that anything is possible if we put our minds to it, I put out that I was looking for work. One of my dreams had been to speak a few languages and, in my spare time I had taught myself German by reading German magazines with a dictionary next to me. This got me my 1st job. A Civil Engineering company called me in to translate a paper from German into English. This was the start of a wonderful 14 years spent with wonderful people, doing all that was required of me – from making tea to delving into and learning technical information.
After many years I remarried and, at the request of my husband, stayed at home keeping busy. I soon felt the need to get out amongst people and use more of the talents that I believed I had.
Talking to people, I put out the word that I needed to do something – anything – and it wasn’t long before an offer came my way to sell gold jewellery on a commission basis only. I went into all the large companies once a month during lunch hour to show the jewellery and I also hit every flea and craft market, school and church fair. As many could not afford gold, I sourced good costume jewellery so ran with the two. It was not long after, at a market, that I noticed beautiful Indian cotton household goods being sold. I approached the persons and asked if I could sell for them. My payment was a commission of 25% of sales. I loved the product and, with time, I decided to import the goods myself so informed my suppliers of my decision. Knowing nothing about imports, I attended a free Import/Export course through Standard Bank. That opened up another road for me. I wholesaled and retailed but continued to go to markets. During this time, I was approached by Auditors to assist one of their clients who was losing his business due to exorbitant fees charged by a monopoly holder of a product in South Africa. This opened up another avenue and I did sourcing for whatever was needed.
As South Africans we do a good deal of complaining and protesting but very seldom do we see these problems as opportunities to do something constructive. At the age of 63, I realised crime was very high in our area and this led me to look into what I could do. It was time to give back to society!
The most obvious was to join a Community Policing Forum (CPF) as this lies within our Constitution. With 8 young men working alongside me, we started up in May 2009. To this day, we are still going strong (although now as a neighbourhood) and, together, we have taken our area from the highest crime in our precinct to almost zero.
I am now 74 years young and am thankful for the privilege of being able to be involved as this last venture has given me the opportunity to continue learning. Now it is the Law, Policing and Security and to assist with Metro problems such as water, sanitation and electricity, the By-Laws. It has given me people contact and amazingly, the 8 years of Red Cross First Aid classes I did at school actually come in handy at times.
We all have talents and gifts and no matter how insignificant they may seem, use them, and build on them!! Nothing is impossible and nothing that we do or learn in life ever goes wasted. There is an opportunity out there for each one of us. Look for and work towards yours!
I never went to University but what I did get is worth so much more. University might sound like fun but a degree does not necessarily mean anything. It does not guarantee work or fulfilment in life. I got my MBE (Management by Experience) and that still gives me endless joy and satisfaction.