The day Mama Shirley changed my life
“My life changed when I came to the Ebenezer Care Centre. Mama Shirley had a lot of patience with me – she would talk to me for hours and pray for me. She made me feel like a person again and showed me that I was special and that I have a purpose to fulfil” – these are the heartfelt words of Felicity Kriel.
Being physically abused by her foster mom as a child, Felicity was robbed of the chance to be a normal child and enjoy the things normal children her age would do. Years would go by, until a concerned neighbour could no longer keep quiet. The nightmare finally ended for the young Felicity when she greeted her new mother, Clover Mama Afrika, Shirley Merime. Mother Teresa Affectionately known as the Mother Teresa of Ennerdale on the East Rand, Mama Shirley is a pillar of strength in her community. Aptly called the Ebenezer Care Centre – meaning ‘rock of hope’, her centre has been a safe haven of hope for the over 66 children and 77 senior citizens in her care for the past 13 years.
Felicity is one of the lucky ones who have been in her care ever since. Thanks to Mama Shirley and the Clover Mama Afrika project, Felicity has been empowered with many sustainable skills during her time spent at the Centre. She even managed to finish her matric. She is still at the centre – only today she is teaching the children of the Ebenezer Care Centre’s pre-school class. She is putting the invaluable skills such as the Save a Child First Aid course and the Netcare Storks Nest course – all made possible by Clover, to good practice in Mama Shirley’s Centre. In addition to her teaching, she is also assisting the Centre’s bread baking initiative and teaching members to crochet and sew.
A leader in the making “I could see that Felicity has great leadership potential. As a child she would play with the other children, but also take charge. We are very proud of how she has grown up to be an amazing young lady,” says a proud Mama Shirley. “Sustainability is key to any successful CSI project. The Clover Mama Afrika project is no different. The Felicity Kriel success story is a clear example of how the Clover Mama Afrika project is now carried over to the next generation, where the members of our Mamas’ centres are transferring the skills they learnt to new members. We are confident that the project will see many more success stories of how people’s lives can be changed by empowering them with sustainable skills. The real heroes are our 23 Mamas who are selflessly offering their homes and hearts to those in need,” says Dr Elain Vlok, Patron of the Clover Mama Afrika project.
There is always hope Felicity’s vision is to continue working with children: “I want to teach them to be confident and I want to give them a good base in education. I love children. They are our future and need to be well educated,” says Felicity. Another dream of Felicity is to one day open her own hair salon so that the members of her community can benefit from affordable and accessible hair salon services. This remarkable young woman’s message to other children who have sadly been down the tragic road she has been through is: “Never give up on life. There is a God – pray and He will do what you ask of him.”