Tonight with Lester Podcast

Beautiful News


Guests : Johan Roos
The surgery took nine hours. By the time the doctors trudged out the operating theatre,
Groote Schuur Hospital was at the centre of an international media hype. On 3
December 1967, the first human heart transplant took place right here in South Africa. A
medical miracle at the time, the procedure is still transforming lives today.
For Johan Roos, it’s given him not only a new heart, but a new course. Later this year, 80-
year-old Roos will be competing at the World Transplant Games in the United Kingdom.
As far as he knows, he’ll be the first octogenarian to ever compete. The sporting event
raises awareness about the success of transplants and the need for organ donation.
South Africa has a critical shortage of donors. By encouraging others to
contribute, more people like Roos can enjoy their lives to the fullest.
Cathrine Mathebe
Cathrine Mathebe dons her sparkly tutu and busts a move. This 63-year-old isn’t your
average gogo. Just a few years ago, she could barely stand without crutches.
Overweight, riddled with arthritis, and struggling with high blood pressure, Mathebe’s
poor health controlled her life. She spent days in bed, dependent on painkillers. When
doctors prescribed surgery on her knee, Mathebe reached her breaking point. She
refused to let that happen. One morning, when no one was home, Mathebe eased out of
bed. Upbeat music played from the radio in the background. Mathebe began to sway
her hips, using a broom for support.
It was painful at first. But she pushed herself to dance every morning, revelling in the
increasing ability to move. Within months, Mathebe was walking with confidence and
feeling like her younger self. Her neighbours gawked when she powered on past them.
The dancer invited them to join her impromptu routines, until there wasn’t enough
space for so many people in her home. Mathebe now leads her crew in the streets.
Earl Mentor
Earlier this year, politicians debated whether to deploy the army into the Cape Flats. It
seemed the only way to combat the violence was with more violence. Earl Mentor has
also been facing the fight against gangsterism, but with words as his weapon.
The writer, poet, and musician began his mission after he lost his best friend in 1998.
“He died a gangster, with nothing,” Mentor says. The ordeal set him on a path to save
himself and his community. Mentor picked himself up and penned a new mindset.
Armed with his book, Cape Flats Karma - Biography of a Coloured Seed, he now coaches
high-risk communities in the Western Cape. The core message is that there are
alternatives to a life of drugs and gangs. Mentor’s goal is to enable others to aim for
happiness and fulfillment outside of toxic influences.
Luxolo Witvoet
Look beyond the corrugated zinc walls. South African townships are pulsating with style.
People wrapped in vibrant patterned textiles punctuate images of dilapidated buildings
and taxi ranks. Their ornate garments enhance their surroundings. Luxolo Witvoet’s
photos are a response to the singular narratives that focus on poverty and crime. The
figures in his photos stand tall like exclamation points. They aren’t the end of a
sentence. Instead, they mark the beginning of a conversation about representation.
Witvoet is a photographer, film editor, and director. Growing up in Langa, a Western
Cape township, he experienced how areas like this were used to limit people of colour.
As an artist, he sought ways to uplift rather than restrict people.
Martha Makhura
Martha Makhura has tenderness written into the lines of her palms. At her crèche in
Gugulethu, there are 160 children in her charge. Entering as tiny toddlers, they flourish
under her watchful eye until they’re ready for primary school. The quality of care a child
receives in the early stages of their life has a profound impact on their cognitive
development.
But not every child has equal access to learning resources .
Makhura’s pre-school has now been running for over two decades. With the help of
donors and several caretakers, more than 20 000 children have passed through her
doors. Affectionately called Mama Martha, she provides children in her community with
the chance to reach their potential.

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