As you enter the gates of KZNCA, more often than not you will be greeted by the homely smell of freshly baked bread or cookies, wafting through the air.
As you continue further, you will be awed by the beautifully pruned gardens, carefully potted plants and lovingly decorated window sills.
As you journey along, you will hear voices giving advice, some comforting and some assisting; some soft while others a little sterner; you will hear the decision makers and the instruction takers, you will hear a home in action.
As you traverse further onto the property, your olfactory system will be treated to a cacophony of tantalising aromas arising from food being prepared but what you will notice immediately is the painstaking detail to hygiene as it is of paramount importance to KZNCA.
Cheer and joy often compensate for the pain and suffering, but what is most enthralling to behold is how the old join hands with the young; the rich and the poor become one; how the ones who are able to, support and assist those who are less able and yet still, how staff and residents form associations and bonds which transcend barriers and divides, making them one large family.
These are the collective efforts of our women – our every day ‘heroes’ who move mountains and this blog is an ode to them for their strength, resilience and diversity.
In conversation with and in commemorating our female residents, the Social Workers listened with rapt attention to the life stories and experiences of these women.
Below are the stories of a random selection of residents…
Born and raised in Montclair, I lived with and was raised by my mum who was a single parent. I worked as a domestic worker where I met my, then boyfriend, who later became my husband and father to our six children.
We lived a tough, financially challenged life but we managed to raise, educate and marry off our children. It was during a very severe flood, that the house which we rented was completely destroyed. At this point our children took the decision to move us into a facility where we would be more “sheltered”.
Years flew by and before we knew it, old age had already arrived. During our stay at KZNCA my husband became ill. I used to help nurse him and I loved him till his dying day.
After his demise, I continued to reside at KZNCA, my home where I am comfortable, happy and wish to spend the rest of my days at. “Some days are difficult, but every day you dream, every day you strive for better and it is that hope that keeps us alive”.
I lived in Greyville in a communal living set-up. I am one of four children and I am the only daughter. My father was an alcoholic and we were all subjected to the abuse that he reined upon my mother.
Due to the nature of my father’s job, we had to constantly move from place to place. I attended twelve different schools and I had to find my own coping mechanisms to deal with this very unsettling lifestyle.
Life has been challenging and the choices I have made for my life have had its ups and downs but being the survivor that that I am, I have successfully lived to see many years of life. I never married, nor do I have any children.
I cared for and looked after my mother till she passed on. Circumstances were such that I found myself making an application and living at KZNCA at a rather young age. However the past seven years have flown by.
I never envisioned spending the rest of my days like this, but I am extremely grateful for whatever I have been blessed with. “We each only get one life to live, live it to the fullest and have no regrets, for everything you do and go through helps shape the path of your life”.
Harrismith is where I was born and raised before moving to Ladysmith. I have worked as a domestic worker for many years and eventually relocated to Durban with one of my employers.
After many years of working for him, we fell in love and he married me. It was an inter-racial marriage during the apartheid era, so as you may imagine, it was not easy for either of us.
Both our families were unhappy with our decision. I faced unending difficulties and hurdles but he never allowed me to feel any less of a woman. I eventually owned and ran my own laundry enterprise. We never had any children together.
I am a product of hard work, resilience and fearlessness. I stood by my choices, I took calculated risks and I lived my life to the fullest. My husband and I both lived at KZNCA. Sadly he has passed on.
I continue to reside at KZNCA where I am safe, comfortable and extremely happy. I truly believe that women empower women. “We’re stronger when we cheer each other on”.
King Williams Town was home for me. I am the youngest of six children. In my formative years I developed a severe bout of fever which caused damage to and the slowing down of my brain.
Though I achieved all milestones on time, I was placed in a school for children with special needs. Eighty odd years ago, children with disabilities were looked down upon, but I was blessed with very supportive parents who made sure no stone was left unturned when it came to my care.
At age eighteen, I met and married the love of my life. He was wealthy and encouraged me to live my dreams while he was out at work. I used to model, dance, swim and perform aerobics professionally before I gave birth to my three children. I loved being a mother to our children. Cooking, raising them and maintaining my home was my priority.
Marriage, like any other relationship takes hard work, constant investing in and both the efforts of my husband and I solidified our marriage which lasted sixty two years, until he passed on a year ago at age eighty four. We both retired to live out our last days at KZNCA.
I am eighty two years old and I still pride myself in dressing up. My flair for fashion and style will be everlasting. “I keep myself young and that’s the bravest thing I do every day”.
I am one of six siblings born and raised in Durban. As a child I was subjected to some terrible times; being exposed to abuse of various kinds. I was always feisty and my many experiences have forced me to stand up for myself and for what is right.
I am a mother to four beautiful daughters whom I have raised singlehandedly for the better part of their lives. They are strong, educated, independent women who invest the same values, morals and strengths in their own children today.
I have always worked extremely hard to survive financially and I continue to do so. Crafts and baking are my hobbies, which I have turned into my own little home industry business. I am married for the second time, this time to the most amazing and supportive husband, with whom I am free to be myself.
Even though my husband and I recently settled into KZNCA, I still continue to work and earn my keep. Our home is our haven and we love being here. I love helping whoever is in need, so my philosophy in life has always been to enable, support and spur on, as many people as possible.
Faith and prayer are the cornerstone of my life. I am a living testimony to the quote “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform”.
If these are just five life-stories, can you imagine what a wealth of power, strength and resilience we at KZNCA nurture?
A woman is made of special mettle. She is capable of moving the proverbial mountain with a strength that is as vast as it is diverse.