Lizagwa Day Care, Utah
Djuma’s reputation for nurturing and developing people extends far beyond its borders, out into the communities that neighbour the Sabi Sands reserve. It’s here in these small, unassuming villages that Djuma’s founders, Jurie and Pippa Moolman, and the family farm that has become a world-renowned safari destination have had an amazing, positive impact. This impact has literally turned people’s lives around for the better, helping them to achieve incredible things against the odds… For Angie Ncune, this transformation process was literally a life-saver.
Born in Soweto in 1976 at the height of apartheid and raised in the township of Tembisa, far from the wilderness of Djuma, Angie was just 24 years old when she moved to the village of Utah with her young daughter. She stayed for just three years before moving back to Johannesburg to find work, falling pregnant again and giving birth to another daughter before moving back to Utah permanently in 2006.
Life was hard for this single mother, with every day a struggle, not just to survive but also to fit in to a community she had not been born into.
“I had to harden myself to survive,” says Angie. “The constant toing and froing were hard on me, but finally, in 2009, things began to change, although at the time I could not see it,” she says with a smile.
“I became involved in a local community project run by an American NGO and met Jurie Moolman for the first time while I was playing women’s soccer,” she says. “We talked for ages, and I remember thinking what an incredible person he was,” she laughs.
“The following year I fell very sick and Jurie was so kind. He supported me, keeping a constant eye on me and always checking on how I was doing. I recovered, thank goodness, and heard about a film competition designed to encourage people in Mpumalanga to tell their stories.
“I came up with a story and entered the competition with a group of friends, doing quite well, making it through to the finals in Nelspruit, but ultimately we didn’t make it through due to our lack of experience,” explains Angie. “Again, Jurie was one of my biggest supporters in this project. Afterwards, I asked Jurie if he had a job for me. He said that he didn’t, but he told me to do something and that he would assist me.
“I was very disappointed that after all his help and support Jurie wouldn’t employ me. And I didn’t know what to do. At that stage I had no faith in myself. I tried a few things that didn’t work out. I started a foundation, for example. I quit, eventually, because I didn’t feel fulfilled and felt I was missing something important,” says Angie.
“So I thought and thought about what to do and I came up with the idea to start a crèche. We had started to build an office for the foundation and so I thought we could use this for the crèche and asked Jurie what he thought. He said ‘It’s fine. Just do it’. I was amazed. Jurie seemed to see something in me I didn’t know was there. It was as if he had been waiting for me to find the right project,” explains Angie.
“So I started Lizagwa Day Care in Utah. There were a lot of challenges along the way, some I felt were too big to overcome, but Jurie kept on telling me to keep going. Keep going. The crèche slowly began to grow and Jurie introduced me to sponsors and people who could help me to achieve my vision.
“I think Jurie saw the bigger picture of what I was trying to do and invested in me as a result. He saw that I was capable of doing this, of achieving my goals, even when I did not see it myself. He had the power to see the bigger picture and brought other sponsors on board as a result,” says Angie.
Determined to make a success of the crèche and finding her feet more and more with every step she took, Angie’s self-confidence grew, allowing her to evolve as a woman and discover who she really is.
“Twenty years ago I was harsh, angry, always right… Now I have changed so much,” she says, with a deep and sincere humility. “That ignorant, selfish Angie is no more. I found my calling and found happiness and now I am so grateful, so thankful for everything I have in my life. And Lizagwa Day Care is going from strength to strength, making a difference in the lives of so many children and their families,” adds Angie.
“Last year was a very busy year. We found a house that was quite run down and about to be demolished, but I knew that with some effort we could turn it around and build a new home for the crèche. I asked Jurie if he could assist me with cement to repair the house and to add on facilities like toilets for the children and an office and he did, introducing me to other sponsors to help with the build. We completed the building work on 18 July last year and it’s so beautiful, I am so proud of what we have achieved,” says Angie.
Does she feel empowered? Absolutely…
“I feel I can do anything I set my mind to now,” she says, boldly, brimming with confidence.
“Djuma and Jurie have been the best to us. Jurie is so supportive of me and my two daughters. Like a father. Without him I would not be who I am today. He gave me the courage to move forward. And he did this by not giving me a job,” she laughs. “The thing with Jurie is that he helps you to become the best person you can be. I never saw myself as a person who could achieve these things, but because he rejected me when I asked him for a job, I have grown into the person I am now and am full of confidence in my own abilities. He made me strong and gave me wisdom,” she says.
“Jurie has taught me so many valuable lessons, the most important of which is that as a human being you should not think only for yourself, but also for other people. It’s something I try to follow every day. I look after 60 children now, from zero to three months’ old up to four years old. My daughters are grown – my oldest will be 26 this year and works for a local NGO called Rhino Revolution. My youngest is 16 and working towards her Matric exams at high school. I am proud of them both,” says Angie.
So what does the future hold for this inspirational woman?
“I know I can go from strength to strength now,” she says. “I have a lot of projects I want to start. I am now a part of this community, even though I was not born here. And I am contributing to my community in a meaningful way. I love my life. Really LOVE my life.”