What a Wonderful Place to Grow Up

Estelle Pretorius
Estelle Pretorius
Estelle Pretorius

KwaSizabantu: What a wonderful place in which to grow up! How do you condense over 2 decades of love and joy into just a few words? I have only the happiest of childhood memories at KwaSizabantu. As children we used to run all over the mission, having fun, creating our own games, and making many good friendships along the way. The most traumatic event of my childhood was when an adult (who is no longer a member of the mission) raised his voice at me for the first and last time of my life.

I was 5 going on 6 when I was finally allowed to go to school, and I loved every minute of it. Domino Servite School provided me with many opportunities to participate in athletics, Mathematics Olympiads, Science Olympiads, and many other activities. From the dedicated teachers at DSS, I learned invaluable skills, including research skills, problem-solving and critical thinking. My English teacher, also the principal of DSS, constantly challenged our assumptions and encouraged us to discover the “why”. In her class, it was never enough to make a statement; we always had to provide our reasons for making the statement. At DSS and at KwaSizabantu, I was always encouraged to ask questions. Never once were my questions were suppressed or merely passed off with a non-answer.

From a young age, my parents also encouraged me to think. I was exposed to respected Christian thinkers like CS Lewis, Ravi Zacharias and Francis Schaeffer. One of my favourite pass times was watching apologists, like William Lane Craig and John Lennox debate atheists and sceptics. Far from being “cut off from the outside world”, I read Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, shortly after I completed my schooling. All of this served to increase my knowledge of the God who revealed Himself in scripture and of the tenets of faith as accepted by evangelical Christians throughout history. Ultimately, my faith in God was strengthened as I became increasingly convinced of the absolute truth of the entire Bible, as the infallible Word of God.

After leaving school, I was provided with an opportunity to work at aQuellé. I had no work experience and virtually no experience with the software that I would need to utilise every day. While solving a maths problem is very different to handling a real-life business situation, I was grateful for the skills that I learned at DSS and which helped me to adjust to the work world. Amazing people at aQuellé invested a lot of time and effort to train me, not to mention the fact that my tertiary education, at an institution of my choice, was paid for by aQuellé. Now, after less than 5 years at aQuellé, I can confidently use business software and even do a bit of coding on the side (to say nothing of all the other skills I have learned). All these skills I learned on the job.

In my frequent interactions with other businesses, as well as my exposure to business ethics (as part of my liberal arts tertiary education), I have realised what a gem my work environment is. I have never, ever, heard anyone shout at another employee. I have never felt threatened or degraded as a woman. I do not go to work in dread of some philandering colleague. In contrast, I am always treated with respect and I always feel safe. While I am confident that the training I have received at aQuellé has made of me an employable person, I have absolutely no desire to work anywhere else. Why should I want to? The team I work with is amazing. Whenever I made a mistake, as happens to everyone occasionally, everyone jumped in to help save the day. Everyone works together towards one goal.

However, the greatest lesson that I am learning at KwaSizabantu is that of self-sacrificial love. God is love and the leaders of the mission, time and time again, have shown me what true love is. How often have I seen a leader demonstrate godly love towards me in seemingly insignificant ways, but that have meant the world to me? They go out of their way to make sure that I feel included. They always have a kind and encouraging word for me when things are tough. They have the time just to stop and ask me, “Are you doing OK?”. How often have I felt uplifted when I hear the words: “Be strong, look up and trust the Lord”. I still have so much to learn and who better to learn from than God Himself through His servants who have served Him faithfully all these years?

Estelle Pretorius