Son carries on heroine’s work

2011-08-10 00:00

WHEN Sarah Holland died trying to rescue the orphans in her care she acted no different to any other day in her life — selflessly.

Her son, Andrew Pienaar, has been trying to reopen a childcare facility in her honour in Newcastle, but is discovering that “doing the right thing” is tough.

He has been trying to come to terms with his mother’s death, which occured 18 months ago.

It became clear to him and his wife Jo-ann that the only thing that would make sense would be to continue the work she did, which was to provide a loving environment for orphans and vulnerable children.

Pienaar said his mother came from a family of 18 children and she loved children. She was a true Christian and looked beyond the colour of a person’s skin. She would never accept rags for her children, as she believed they were all worthy of the best.

Holland died with 11 others on the farm she bought in Igogo, where she created a safe house and care facility for children who had nowhere to go.

Nobody has been able to discover the cause of the fire that occured in February last year, which killed four of Holland’s own family: her son Nicholas Pienaar (40), his 13-year-old twins, Joshua and Justine, and their sister, Nicole (seven).

Orphans Siyabonga Mbuli, Mbali Msibi, Sinenhlanhla Mbatha and Diego Moodley were among the other victims.

Nine others managed to escape, including six children who were saved by Holland.

She was overcome by smoke and was found by firemen with two small children by her side.

Holland posthumously received the Silver Mendi Award for bravery from the president earlier this year for her selfless actions.

Pienaar, one of three sons, told recently of his struggle to get the new home built in his mother’s honour: “It has been tough. After the funeral we knew that my mother would have wanted us to continue with her dream. She was always thinking of others and never let obstacles get in her way. We knew that it would have been her wish for us to carry on.

“But we wanted to do it by the book. We decided to set up a charity and to register as a home for children. We have learned how tough it is to do anything by the book. Just to get building plans approved we had to have them inspected by 14 different government departments. The amount of red tape involved is holding up the process.

“We had to prove that there was a need for the home in the area and we got the Department of Social Development to do a survey. They showed there was an overwhelming need for a place like ours.

“We wanted to offer a place that would look after kids in an integrated way and that would also offer services to the community. We did not want to be involved in ‘band aid’ care, where we fix a problem in the short term.”

The Pienaars envisage a system of houses where six children will live with a house parent, and a community hall where the families will meet for meals and worship.

They also want to establish an early learning centre and extend the service to the wider community, and hope to get a feeding scheme off the ground.

Jo-ann said, “The problem is that time has passed as many people who pledged support have forgotten us or they think nothing is happening,”

“We have been working non-stop trying to get all the paperwork in order so we can start building.”

They hope to start laying the foundations next month and they will be appealing for sponsors to support their endeavours.

If you can offer assistance with donations or building materials, call Jo-ann Pienaar at 084 507 7296 or e-mail her at, or visit their website at,

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