Guest : Riyaad Avontuur
Riyaad Avontuur has been clean for 390 days and counting. But it’s been a long journey
to get here. When he got involved with the wrong crowd and started using drugs, life
became increasingly difficult. Avontuur spent 10 years in and out of rehabs and missed
out on being there for his family. Recovery isn’t instant. This time, Avontuur needed to
fill the days of sobriety with positive intent. He took up running alongside his daughter –
an activity that’s given both Avontuur and his community in Bonteheuwel a head start to
Every time Avontuur and his daughter ventured out for a sprint, children would
approach them: "Uncle, can we come run with you?" he recalls them asking. Avontuur
realised the kids needed to occupy themselves and keep away from negative
influences. “There's so much more in my community beyond drugs and crime,” he says.
By approaching principals in nearby schools, Avontuur gathered learners who were
interested in athletics and eager to have someone coach them. Earlier this year, he
began the Bonteheuwel Central Athletic Club with just two members. It’s now grown to
over 60 children chasing their purpose.
Running the club has guided Avontuur away from his old vices, and towards a position
of leadership. His past has shown him how easy it is to veer off track. But it’s also taught
him it’s possible to move on, no matter where you come from. “I finally feel that I can
contribute something,” he says. Avontuur is turning each step of his recovery into great
strides, both for himself and the kids of Bonteheuwel.
Guest : Genevieve Chisholm
It was a little after midnight. Genevieve Chisholm rubbed her eyes and headed out to
check on the rescued horse. He was severely malnourished. Feeding him meant waking
up every two hours just so that he could keep up his strength. But saving animals is
what Chisholm does. She has 1 260 animals in her care – and the number doesn’t stop
At Flag Animal Farm, a rescue centre in Durban, creatures from tiny hamsters to
abandoned rabbits are left on Chisholm’s doorstep every day. Often, they’re from
people who no longer want their pets or who’ve neglected them. “We have saved just
over 14 and a half thousand lives,” Chisholm says. Her on-site vet attends to every
animal when they arrive. For any wild creature that comes to the farm, Chisholm works
closely with the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife to release them. As much as she
can, she chooses not to send a rescue away. “I don’t believe in rehoming,” Chisholm says.
“An animal at Flag Farm is safe for the rest of their lives.”
Despite the large number of creatures under Chisholm’s care, she gives each one a
name and an equal amount of love. “The animals that come here all become part of my
family,” she says. With blind ponies, a three-legged cat, and more than a hundred
bunnies among the cows and goats, she’s created a haven for every type of animal.
“Where there’s breath, there’s hope,” Chisholm says. “And we will fight until the last
Guest : Rebecca Nyangaresi-Gatang’i | Founder at Ketsh Up ZA |
It is an initiative that aims to motivate more women from all walks of life (particularly
African women) to acquire cycling and swimming skills in order to destroy stereotypes
and diversify the triathlon scene.
Ketsh Up, was started in 2016 in PE by Rebecca Nyangaresi-Gatang’I and her friend
Bianca Reichelt as a fitness movement to encourage women from all walks of life to
join them in taking up running, swimming, and cycling.
Since then, the NPO has grown into a sizeable club of over 100 women whose members
swim, cycle and run in triathlon events
Guest : Barbara Kingsley
Who finds out they have HIV and then starts running ultra marathons? An accomplished
athlete, maybe. But Barbara Kingsley had never run before testing positive almost two
decades ago. Coming to terms with her diagnosis proved to be the motivation the
paralegal secretary needed to complete both the Comrades Marathon and the Two
Oceans Ultra Marathon.
Kingsley discovered she was HIV positive in 2000, a time when information was scarce
but stigma was rife. Despite thinking she would die soon after, she showed no sign of
illness for eight years. Her initial good health fuelled her denial and refusal of
But in 2008, her CD4 count plummeted to 86 and she had to be hospitalised. Barely able
to move, Kingsley finally began taking ARVs. Within two weeks, her strength grew and
she couldn’t wait to start doing the things she had previously taken for granted. Running
from one lamp pole to the next, she built up the strides until she reached the fivekilometre
mark. Then 10 kilometres. Then 15.
Since coming out of denial and working with her status, Kingsley’s physical and
emotional health has improved. Living openly as an HIV-positive person, she runs as
part of the Positive Heroes team to raise awareness. As the world acknowledges World
AIDS Day, Kingsley remains proof of the importance of getting tested, starting treatment
and realising your potential to live a full life.
More and more people are trying to catch up with Rebecca Nyangaresi-Gatang’i. She’s a
fitness fanatic who often participates in triathlons, despite only learning to swim and
cycle a few years ago. In addition to these sporting events still being male-dominated,
there are also misconceptions about people of colour which can hold many back.
Nyangaresi-Gatang’i is leading the race to get more women involved in sport – and
smashing stereotypes along the way.
In 2016, she began Ketsh Up with her friend Bianca Reichelt. Based in Port Elizabeth, the
NPO encourages women from all walks of life to join them in taking up running,
swimming, and cycling. Offering beginners’ lessons, training sessions and coaching,
they’re giving future triathletes a head start.
Over 100 women have since joined the club, which has no membership fees. “We are an
inspired group who are determined to conquer our fears,” Nyangaresi-Gatang’i says.
Beginning a new activity can be scary. But together, these women are pushing their
limits and succeeding. “You’re a winner no matter what,” Nyangaresi-Gatang’i says.
Rika du Plessis
The Clanwilliam cedar is one of the few trees to have survived the Ice Age. Endemic to
South Africa, they’re the namesake of the beloved Cederberg mountain range. Standing
tall across the Karoo plains, the trees support an ecology known only to this region. But
today, there are only about 13 000 left in the wilderness, earning their place on the
IUCN Red List. Fortunately, their plight is being met by Rika du Plessis, a Cape Nature
Conservation Manager working to restore their population.
“The Clanwilliam cedar is part of our heritage,” Du Plessis says. But it faces many
threats. The hardy wood and bark make for appealing construction material, leading to
an uproar in deforestation. Their thriving nature is a catch 22 – the trees need fire to
ignite their growth, but recent outbreaks have burnt them to their core.
Global warming is hampering the natural fertilisation of spores that already take over
30 years to grow. With so many factors against them, Du Plessis is germinating as many
Clanwilliam cedars as she can.
Animals are not the only species that need to be protected. “Without any trees in the
world, there won’t be any life,” Du Plessis says. “We can never have enough voices to
promote and speak out for nature because nature can’t speak for itself.” There is still
hope for the Clanwilliam cedar, rooted in those ensuring the planet succeeds.
Skateboarding is beneficial for dogs – just ask Tom Vilakazi. His canine companion
often tries his paws at skating. The hound isn’t always successful, but he doesn’t need to
be as Vilakazi is the one using his board to make a difference. “I skate to save dogs,” he
says. By harnessing his passion for the sport, Vilakazi is creating a better life for the
animals in his community. This year, Vilakazi began UThando Lwenja, which means “for
the love of dogs”. He provides skateboarding lessons to kids in Sweetwaters, KwaZulu-
Natal and uses the profits to help animals in rural areas receive medical attention.
“Dogs are far more than
just protection,” Vilakazi says. “They have feelings too and they need to be loved.”
Having learnt to value them through Funda Nenja, he’s now passing on his knowledge
and experience to other youth.
“Improving the life of dogs makes me feel like I’m contributing to society,” Vilakazi says.
“I’ve realised that we are nothing without animals in this world.” With each trick on a
skateboard, happier days are guaranteed for these dogs.
If you contracted HIV, who would you turn to? Discovering your status is life-changing.
But disclosing it can make the situation more complex. Those who test positive still have
to brave stigma and some may even refuse treatment to avoid being victimised.
Dudu Ramorwalo initially responded to her diagnosis with disbelief. When she shared
the news with her family, their reassurance helped her adjust. But at her local clinic in
Johannesburg, Ramorwalo noted that other HIV-positive people had no support. “Most
people living with HIV were scared that they would be rejected,” she says. To ease their
fears and isolation, she founded the Asibambaneni Support Group in 2014.
Charlie Jacobs, a Mr Gay South Africa finalist, was also in denial until he realised the
pageant could be a chance to inspire others. “I started the Change the Stigma Project
after I saw the opportunity to show that ordinary people are actually living
extraordinary lives,” he says. One such person is Saidy Brown, who discovered she was
HIV-positive at the age of 14. She chose to share this in a tweet. “I could never have
imagined the reaction I have gotten simply by posting my status on Twitter,” she says.
“We live in a generation where people are more open to talking about these things.”
Activists such as Ramorwalo, Brown and Jacobs are changing perceptions about HIV
within the communities they’ve built. “Everyone deserves a chance in life to live without
being judged or discriminated,” Jacobs says.
What are you doing for the earth in this time of crisis? Our planet is facing an
environmental emergency which authorities are doing little to halt. Many of these
disasters, such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels, are the result of
processes generated by major corporations. They’re issues that can be dealt with. Yet
the situation gets worse every day. Eleven-year-old Othembele Dyantyi is raising her
voice to encourage a union of action against this unprecedented climate injustice.
Dyantyi is part of Extinction Rebellion, a global socio-political movement to drive
government action to prevent the planet’s breakdown. At the forefront of the South
African resistance, Dyantyi and her army of youth activists are spreading awareness
about the causes and severity of the climate crisis. Together, they’re calling for the
protection of endangered ecological systems and challenging the government to invest
in renewable energy.
Julie Kynaston’s children didn’t grow in her belly. She calls herself a ‘heart mama’ – a
reference to where her love for them burgeoned. When Kynaston and her husband,
Ryan, decided to start a family, they were determined to adopt. But during the process,
they encountered a distinct lack of information online. It didn’t deter Kynaston from
making the fulfilling choice. Now, she’s using her words to close the gaps and help
other South Africans.
With Heart Mama Blog, Kynaston speaks openly about the joys and difficulties of having
an adoptive family and being a parent. Here, people can share their stories of what it’s
like to adopt, or to have been adopted. Adoption, especially multi-racial adoption,
comes with a slew of challenges. Her site includes useful resources for those interested
in adopting within South Africa. As Kynaston creates a safe space to educate, she’s
For many children, adoption can be rooted in trauma or loss. Her own family is
testament to the love that comes with adoption. With her kids Ilan, Kira and Judah, they
show there’s no one way of being a family.
Moerieda Joubert’s mother understood the importance of connecting with people. And
what better way to do that than by sharing a meal? Even though she had Parkinson’s,
she would prepare food for the local old-age home out of her own pocket. After her
passing, Joubert has proved the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Imprinted with a sense of goodwill, Joubert founded Statice Square Senior in Cape Town
to build a community from companionship and love. For the past 15 years, she’s been
providing scrumptious five-course meals and organising entertainment for the elderly.
A pensioner herself, Joubert uses her limited funds to continue her mother’s legacy.
Going beyond her means, Joubert is nourishing people with kindness and creating
priceless opportunities to break bread with others.
Streaks of colour drip down the canvas as the image of a woman begins to take shape.
Patrick Seruwu alternates between slathers and dabs of acrylic paint. Despite the
delicate details, his portraits are emotionally-charged and rooted in a heavy reality.
Representative of women who’ve been abused and fear speaking out, the artworks
convey their trauma.
Before the Ugandan-born, Johannesburg-based contemporary artist began painting, he
used to braid women’s hair for a living. This, combined with his upbringing alongside
three sisters and a single mother, influenced Seruwu thematically. To fairly depict their
experiences, he bases his paintings on conversations where women dictate their own
stories. One of the questions Seruwu often asks, “Are you safe at home?” reveals an
unfortunate reality – many women aren’t.
His multimedia works serve as a powerful statement. Though he’s only been painting
for two years, Seruwu’s pieces have exhibited at the Turbine Art Fair and the ABSA
Gallery in Johannesburg. With his art, he’s furthering the conversation on gender-based
violence, reminding people of women’s struggles, and celebrating their resilience.
Your body is yours. Yet a 2016 Optimus Study reveals that a third of adolescents in
South Africa have been sexually abused at some point in their lives. This is an extreme
violation, the effects of which can last a lifetime. In an attempt to prevent this
exploitation, Fanie Viljoen has written a book that’s educating children and adults in the
face of violence.
In 2019, Viljoen published The Day the Dragon Came, a children’s story about sexual
abuse in the home committed by a ‘dragon’. He has written different versions of the
book for boys and girls, which include illustrations by Tumi K. Steyn. Viljoen explains in
simple to understand, child-friendly ways the difference between safe and unsafe touch,
and what to do if you’re being harmed.
The books also contain information for parents, guardians, and teachers on how to
recognise abuse and take appropriate measures. “Some things are uncomfortable to
speak about but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be addressed,” Viljoen says. Teaching
children about consent can protect them from dragons that come their way, even in
adulthood. But it’s listening to kids and taking action that ends the cycle of abuse.
Guest : Lookout Sibanda
Lookout Sibanda is a man of few words. Instead, he prefers to craft his expression
through art. Sibanda’s creative flair sparked in high school when his friends taught him
to paint. So when he couldn’t afford to study after matric, he chose to pursue his
passion by decorating ceramics with brushes of colour. But adding the final touches
wasn’t enough. Sibanda felt compelled to learn pottery from inception.
Working for established ceramists Elza van Dijk and Nicole Kingston exposed Sibanda
to their techniques. Even without formal classes, he learnt to produce pots, bowls, and
plates. Soon, Sibanda started promoting his wares at markets and exhibitions in Port
Elizabeth, building a reputation under the name Lookout Ceramics. Today, Sibanda
holds success in the palm of his hand. His signature work features abstract and
geometric patterns, with vivid colours inspired by the blankets his grandmother used to
In 2018, knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo chose to mentor Sibanda as a result of his
talent. Despite his accomplishments, Sibanda is conscious of the challenging course it’s
taken for him to get here. That’s why he hopes to share his skills by tutoring potential
For this potter, passion is the tool to triumph.