Celebrating Women’s Month in our Village: Ansie Schroeder

There’s no shortage of kind, dynamic and inspirational women in our Village. It’s something we’ve always been proud of and when we think of those who use their time and their talents to make a real difference in the lives of others, Ansie Schroeder comes to mind.

The moment one meets her they’re instantly drawn to her warmth. And once they get to know her, thats precisely why she brings people together in the place that she calls home. We’re inspired by Ansie and the way she chooses to spend her free moments enriching the lives of others. Whether it’s teaching craft skills so women can empower themselves to earn a living, or sewing therapy dolls to help little children articulate themselves, she’s never anything less than all in.

Within our own Village, she’s encouraging fellow residents to unleash their own creativity in the name of good. She’s also our Village baker, creating mouth-watering delights for us to enjoy on special occasions and often, just because, as every day is one worth celebrating and also because in her own words, “tea and cake are very important!”

Her career began as a bank clerk in Pretoria and she then got married and had two daughters. After moving to Durban in the late 70s, she was a day mother for a desperate friend who needed a hand with her own kids so that she could work. Word spread and she soon became a day mom to a few more, staying in touch with them for years to come, baking their wedding cakes and still seeing them (and their kids) to this day.

Back in 1996, Ansie was asked to assist with the South African Women’s Federation – the Addington Women’s Club, and then later approached by UNISA’s Department of Social Work. In both instances, she used her flair for people, crafts and charity to achieve some impressive results. It was here that she got involved with “Bright Site” where she ran workshops designed to teach others to teach others.

“These women could take the skills they learnt and help others make a living. I taught Bright Site Social Workers to crochet articles using recycled cold-drink caps, income-generating items they then displayed at the 2015 Sustainable Living Exhibition. A group of us also taught the social workers to make Sock Monkeys, so they could give them to young children – every child needs a toy to cuddle.” – Ansie Schroeder.

A new chapter began when she attended a Dlalanathi doll-making course. The dolls produced were auctioned at the Oyster Box Hotel’s Snoqubile Early Childhood Development fundraiser for around R2 000 a piece!  All proceeds went towards establishing a children’s home in Tongaat. Ansie’s doll-making became a real passion as she took to the art of Persona dolls, life-size, culturally appropriate dolls, used as tools for social workers and teachers, to assist with complex social issues in schools and hospitals.

These days, Ansie still makes dolls and also assists at the Open Door Crisis Centre, making ‘comfort parcels’ for raped and abused women and children. For the children’s packs, she knits Teddy Bears, and packs them together with colouring-in books, crayons, chips and juice to keep the children busy while they’re waiting at the police station. One can only imagine the happiness this brings to a little one during a traumatic time where hope often feels too far away.

Ansie, on behalf of your Village family, we could not be prouder of you. Thank you for sharing your talents and heart with us. Your willingness to enrich the lives of others never goes unnoticed and thanks to you, the world is most certainly a brighter and better place.