Category Archives: My Super Talented Friends

It sure feels good to do good! (Saartjie Baartman fundraiser)

I love the buzz of knowing that you are contributing to something good. I have never voluntary taken drugs before, but I am 100% certain that the buzz that is flowing through my veins beats any possible chemical imaginable. I am talking about the 100k in 10 Days challenge, an initiative by my friend Marelise and her sister Amelia. Last week, these two lovely chicks kickstarted this initiative to raise funds for the Saartjie Baartman Centre (SBC). The centre is threatened with closure after the Lotto failed to pay out.

In short: the SBC – situated in Manenberg, an area ravaged by violence, gang warfare, drugs, and poverty – is  the only option for many women and their children to escape the chronic physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. It is therefore the only chance to rebuild their lives. It is either that, or sleeping on the streets, or staying with their abusers. That is the horrid truth. When the Lotto failed to pay out, crisis struck. It appeared the centre had to close its doors at the end of May without a significant cash injection.

That is where Marelise and Amelia come in. They are determined to prevent this and aim to raise R100.000 (some 10.000 euro) to push the shelter through for a couple of months, giving it time to come up with an alternative funding strategy.

I have a soft spot for the centre. I sympathise with the women who live there. Like scores of women, I have been victim of abuse by the hand of men too (One ex decided  to smack me in the face when I was 18. Some four years later, the guy I was dating didn’t take no for an answer in a sexual way – after spiking my drink. He also emptied my bank account: In my drugged up state, I apparently told him to draw money.  To top things off, an ex – I call him the Bastard Ex – of some 2 years ago was a stealing, compulsive liar with a double life).

As opposed to the women at the SBC, I had the privilege of having a strong circle of friends and a place of safety (my home) to help me though it.

Enough about my own soap opera and back to Saartjie Baartman.

Marelise and Amelia have managed to raise R30.000 (3000 euro)! Not bad for 3 days (The challenge is only running on week days)! On top of that, the provincial government of the Western Cape has come on board: It has pledged funds to tie the centre over until September.

Last but not least, the ladies have ended up all over the news too, which is awesome! I am very chuffed that my first press release was received so well! A second one has just been issued, and I hope my media colleagues will bite once again. The more publicity, the more donations.

Gosh, who would have thought my experience in PR would contribute to something worthwhile 🙂

 >>> Now go to the 100k in 10 Days Challenge website and donate! 


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Failing our women & two super sisters who are fighting for them

I have some pretty amazing friends, as I mentioned before. Today, I want to push Marelise Van Der Merwe in the spotlights. Why? Because she – together with her sister Amelie – is determined to save the Saartjie Baartman Centre (SBC) in Cape Town from forced closure. How? By raising a R100.000 in ten days – R500 at a time.

What is so special about the SBC? The center – situated in Manenberg, an area ravaged by violence, gang warfare, drugs, and poverty – is very simply the only option for many women and their children to escape the chronic physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. It is therefore the only chance to rebuild their lives. It is either that, or sleeping on the streets, or staying with their abusers. It is the horrid truth.

This center is now being threatened with closure after the Lotto has failed to pay out (other NGOs and charities are facing similar circumstances). The organisation’s immediate needs are R100.000 to get through the next couple of months. The money needs to come in before the end of May. No money = closure = 20 to 30 women and their children (all traumatized by the abuse they suffered) will be forced onto the streets or back in abusive households. Simple.

Marelise and Amelie are determined to prevent this from happening and are on a mission to raise R100.000 in the next ten days or so – R500 at a time. How? They need 20 people a day to pledge R50 (47 euro / 59 US dollar). So far, Cape Town’s two newest super heroes seem to be on track (check !!!)

One of the latest people who donated, was my own mother (Marijke Mannak) by the way. She donated R500 (well, the equivalent in euros as she lives in The Netherlands) and knowing her, she is busy spreading the word RIGHT NOW!

How can you help? First of all: spread the word. The more people know about this, the better. Secondly, make a donation. R500 is ideal, more is even better but less is fine too.

The account details are: ABSA / savings / 9156133936. Please use the reference ‘BAARTMAN’ and send proof of payment to Those who prefer to donate straight to the center, use the following details  but please don’t forget to let The Super Sisters know about your pledge so they can track the donations and post updates)

The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children
First National Bank 201509
Current account 62028179415

I have written a press release about, which can be found here. Please download it, use it, and send in on to everyone you know! Let’s not fail these women!


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Lesley Ann’s African Philosophy

As I said a few weeks ago: I am rather blessed with some amazingly talented friends who do some amazing things.

Take Lesley-Ann Erasmus. Apart from running her own PR company (LA Public Relations) she has developed a brand new range of hand-made bath goodies including yummy bath salts and ditto scrubs. Her range is called African Philosophy, and was launched last year just before the 2010 World Cup.

My favourite is her Neroli and Rosemary Body Scrub. I love the smell, the texture, and the way it buffs

The Scrubs of Lesley's African Philosophy range

and nourishes my (very, very dry) skin. The best thing is that the scrubs are made of all natural ingredients. So no nasty toxic bits! Yay!

Then there is Lesley’s Lavender, Clary Sage & Milk Bath Salt, which is inspired by no one else but … Mrs Cleopatra! This Egyptian Iron Lady – as the tale goes – sent hours soaking in a warm bath with fresh milk added to the water. Like the Scrubs, the African Philosophy Bath Salt range contains all natural ingredients and is hand-made.

Slowly but surely African Philosophy is finding its ways to outlets in Cape Town – which is awesome to see. Eventually, Lesley wants to expand even more. “One of my aims is to create eventually jobs for unemployed South Africans living on the Cape Flats. My products are all handmade, so there is plenty of potential.”

Two Thumbs up Les! A country tormented by unemployment needs more people like you!

If you are want to pamper yourself or someone else, you really should give Lesley – who is based in Cape Town’s CBD – a shout for an outlet near you (082 496 8683 /


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My Talented Friends: Mel, the Jewelry Queen

I have been blessed by the friendships of some seriously talented people. From time to time I would like to use this blog to put one of them in the spot lights, simply because they deserve it. This week it is Mel’s turn.

I have known Mel Andreev since we studied at the University from Amsterdam. Because of among other things our similar backgrounds (growing up in various different places, for instance) we hit it off pretty much straight away. This was over ten years ago, and despite my decision to move to South Africa I am very happy to say that our friendship is still very much alive.

Mel – I am sorry if I make you blush, chica – is some seriously talented chick, ladies and gentlemen! And she is damn brave too, as she gave up her full-time job to follow her heart: to start her own hand-made jewelry company called ‘A Country called M‘. I know how hard and difficult and nerve wrecking it is to give up the certainty of a steady job to run your own show. It is scary, frightening, and far from easy. But she did it and pulled it off at the same time.

Today, after visiting her website for the first time in weeks, I again realized how good Mel is in what she does What I saw actually made me feel quite small, I must say. I mean – constructing coherent sentences is an art, sure, but making jewellery is a completely different ball game. Apart from the ‘Country Called M collections of bracelets, earrings, and necklaces’ Mel specializes in custom-made jewelry too. I did not know this ( and neither did I know you worked with diamond too, my friend!).

I guess now know where to go if I want something no one else has, har har 🙂

Mel would not be Mel is she would not tie work with supporting a good cause. I do not know her otherwise. She has always been aware of the fact that there are many people out there who need help and assistance, and who are not as fortunate as us Europeans. A Country Called M therefore donates part of its profits to various charitable organizations, including SOS Children’s Villages.

This international organization, which I know very well, works with children who are forced to grow up without their parents by making sure that these youngsters are able to grow up in a loving family. I live in a country where close to 1.5 million children have lost one or both parents die to HIV/AIDS alone. It is heartbreaking. To keep a long story short: I support SOS Children’s Village with all my heart. Thanks Mel, for doing the same 🙂

You can follow Mel on Twitter – @melandreev

1 Comment

Posted by on January 14, 2011 in My Super Talented Friends, The World of Mir


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