Despite the pandemic, Proteas of the Valley continues to honour women in 2020 for Women’s Month; these women are heroes for all they do for others.
Western Cape, South Africa (03 August 2020) – Proteas of the Valley is a women’s empowerment initiative that honours and celebrates inspirational women in the Cape Winelands.
On the eve of Women’s Month 2012, the Relationship Manager of Valcare, Jolanda van der Lingen, felt a calling to honour a couple of wonderful women that she knew. The idea was to select a lady for each day of the month to share her story on Facebook. The rest is history.
Over the years, the concept of the initiative has grown and evolved, but the core has remained unchanged. The public is invited to nominate women who are making an incredible difference in their communities. It started out with 31 women for each day of August, but since 2019 we are focusing on 15 women.
The ladies get spoilt with a professional photoshoot where after their story and photographs are shared on social media and in the local newspaper and radio stations over the month of August.
At the end of August, the campaign is usually closed on a High Tea note at an elegant event with guest speakers and performances, as well as incredible gift hampers and vouchers to make the women feel extra special. Just not in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Instead, the women selected as the Proteas of the Valley 2020 are being honoured in video format. Meet Lamees De Klerk, the first Protea of the Valley 2020.
Lamees de Klerk’s determination to be a force for change in her community is as much the result of her generosity, as it is because of the struggles that she has had to face in her own life.
Growing up in Cloetesville was tough – her family had to live in someone else’s backyard and she tragically lost her mother as a teenager. Soon after this, Lamees fell pregnant with her first child. Years later, she sadly suffered the loss of her last child, merely days after the birth.
One morning, everything just became too much and she walked towards the train tracks to take her own life.
By God’s grace she didn’t go through with it, and today she is a voice for the voiceless in her community. From the Breughel Theatre Centre, Lamees and her team run the Community Warriors 4 Change programme, facilitating a variety of upliftment projects.
During the lockdown, she didn’t lie down. She initiated feeding and sewing projects and started learner drivers lessons for youth that had nothing to do.
Her tenacity is evident in her job too. After working as a cleaner at a panel beating shop for years, she became a qualified artisan spray painter at the age of 47, the oldest student the college had seen.
She is confident, energetic and determined.
She is a Protea of the Valley.
“If I don’t do for others what I want for myself, I’ll never prosper. I’ll never be happy and I’ll never be me.”