NPOs put women first

2019-08-27 06:00
Dews of Quietness is awarded a certificate for the work they do for abused women and children in the community.

Dews of Quietness is awarded a certificate for the work they do for abused women and children in the community.

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Women have led the way during August, empowering each other and their communities through the work they do; and there’s no sign of these women-run organisations slowing down anytime soon.

The spirit of giving

For Women’s Month this year, three non-profit organisations from Steenberg, Lavender Hill and Retreat have put their resources to good use – as they always do – to be the giving hands in their communities.

Karen Maarman, a qualified hairdresser and founder of Bethel Projects Women, started the non-government organisation with the help of three women about 10 years ago to provide safe spaces for children.

“It started at Sunday school in Lavender Hill. We would always see children in the street, and then we decided to cook for them.”

The feeding scheme was well received but it wasn’t enough, and so the women began to reach out to school dropouts.

“We started hairdressing classes, because once they have a skill they can make money. We taught them hairdressing and beading, instilling a spirit of entrepreneurship,” she says.

Fulfilling needs

Moeridha Dien, founder of Dews of Quietness, and Tracy Aitken, founder of The Zoe Project, both started their projects to address unique needs in the community.

The Zoe Project, established more than 20 years ago in Retreat, educates women on maternal healthcare and provides for those who endure the socio-economic problems common to the area.

Through education, nurturing and empowerment, The Zoe Project assists mothers and families during and after labour.

Dien, who runs her non-profit organisation with about 20 other women, was also moved by the challenges women faced in the community. It motivated her to launch the NPO to provide counselling for abused women and children.

Today the organisation, operating from offices at Delta Primary School, offers women a much wider range of assistance. Despite hurdles, such as insufficient space and funding, the organisation continues to launch new initiatives.

Women face challenges every day and Aitken believes that women should, therefore, be celebrated every day. “Every day should be Women’s Day,” she says.

Women’s Month

Every August, Maarman and her daughter carry out a month-long task to show women how special they are.

“I beautify one woman a day. We give them makeovers. Last year, we focused on homeless woman and the year before that, on pastors. This year, we helped women who I came across who felt they needed a makeover,” she explains.

Making women feel beautiful is not the only work she’s doing in aid of women this month.

She also holds a women’s support group every Thursday at her home in Military Road.

Dews of Quietness, supported by Bergvliet Lions Club, collected sanitary pads for young girls in under-resourced areas.

“We went to an event at a church where we donated 40 packs of pads.

“The Lions Club donated 80 packs of pads for distribution to the girls, and Rohlig-Grindrod also donated 100 packs,” says Dien.

“This month has been beautiful. We’ve also attended the events of other organisations where we demonstrated how women are weighed down with responsibility. As each woman tells her story, a blanket is added to show the burden of responsibilities that we carry.”

The Zoe Project launched a pilot programme, The Princess Project, at Casa Labia. More than 100 women and men, and six girls from Sebilius High School, came together in support of the programme. 

“The four-week programme, aimed at Grade 8 girls, deals with identity. It teaches them that their sexuality is not their identity,” says Aitken. 

The project educates girls on pregnancy prevention and how to care for themselves and their babies if they do fall pregnant.

Operating from the Retreat Maternity Centre, the project has trained 39 new birthing companion volunteers to provide support and ante-natal advice to mothers.

  • For more information about the projects, visit; the Dews of Quietness Facebook page or email

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