Wednesday, March 21, 2018

When a dream gets wings

Wings for Simone

A few years back, I contacted my publisher, Simone Hough. I was desperate. I knew my story would help create awareness about the evolution of bullying and I knew it even had the power to change and even save lives. Simone read the manuscript and immediately fell in love with the honest characters and strong message. A few weeks later we signed the contract with NB Publishers and this is how my novel Vlerke vir Almal saw the shelves. But it doesn’t just end there. Simone knew that this story deserved a bigger audience and that is how Vicky Davis got to hear about the book.

Wings for Vicky

When I got the message that the super talented Vicky Davis wanted to take my novel to the stage at the 2018 Woordfees in Stellenbosch, my heart skipped a few beats and then somersaulted an Olympic gold. She saw the potential and treated my text with the utmost respect while working on it. So often you hear how directors and producers rip open a text, find a few things that they like and disregard the rest in such a manner that the original writer doesn’t even recognise their own work. Vicky did exactly the opposite. We knew we had to cut large chunks out of the novel, but she incorporated all the important bits and kept the heart of Vlerke in tact. Even critic Nadine Petrick agrees in her review, the directing was superb and Vicky taught the young actors to be passionate and strong in their performances without the typical overacting which is often a problem in dramatic theatre. This made the production much more believable and audiences connected immediately.

Simone Hough, Marion Erskine & Vicky Davis

Wings for Wian

Wian Taljaard played the protagonist Dewald Myburgh and he was perfect for this role. Wian has the ability to express emotions through his body language without saying anything and this is a powerful weapon in theatre. You can’t help but climb into the old brown station wagon with him and be part of his journey. He never acts to be the perfect son (although his stage parents might disagree) and he shows that he gets angry and frustrated, too. During his emotional stutter breakthrough with Linkin Park’s Numb playing in the background, there were very few dry eyes in the audience. As a writer, I want my readers to ‘feel’ something. Wian made that happen and more. When I look at the incredible talent this young man has, I get excited about the future of Afrikaans movies and the direction we're moving into.

Wian Taljaard (Dewald) reads the message from his mum. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Dewald is really disturbed after a conversation with the school psychologist. (Izak de Vries)

Dewald realises that his best friend has been a victim of cyberbullying. (Izak de Vries)

Wings for Rene

Rene Cloete (Nicola) plays a small, but probably the most crucial part of the entire story. If audiences couldn’t relate and love Nicola in a few scenes, the story would not have any impact. As the writer, I had a very special relationship with Nicola and casting Rene was one of the best decisions Vicky made. We laugh with Rene. We joke with her. We care for her. We feel her pain. We understand why Dewald is so devastated when she doesn’t include her in her biggest decision. With so little ‘screen time’, Rene should be incredibly proud of how she touched the audience and influenced the entire production.

Nicola (Rene Cloete) gets her first tattoo. It's a butterfly. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Nicola celebrates Dewald's 17th birthday in the Spur. (Sonya Olivier Photography)
Nicola shares her biggest secret with Dewald. (Izak de Vries)
Wings for Banele

In the orginal book, Beesbal, is a regular white dude that brings some comedy relief to the story. Vicky told me that Banele Mthembu would make the perfect Beesbal, and (as usual) she was correct. There are so many different levels to this young man. You immediately want him to be your best friend and soon you realise that there’s a deeper Beesbal inside, although he doesn’t even make it vocal once. Why is he trying to be so funny? Is it to escape his own demons? The audience experiences a deeper level of the person they see on stage and this is only possible through superb acting. Kudos to Banele for hitting the Afrikaans phrases out of the park. It just shows commitment.

Beesbal (Banele) always cracks up the audience when he gets on stage. (Izak de Vries)

Beesbal decides to become a butterfly. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Wings for Mia

Karlien (Mia van der Merwe) plays Dewald’s love interest. Beesbal says she’s one of those “rare cases where the universe blessed her with beauty and brains” and that is why she’s perfect for this role. Although pretty, Mia portrays a very down to earth girl who also struggles with her own internal battles and family problems. It’s so easy not to like the pretty girl on stage as she has everything that we all want, but Mia makes you love her and care about her immediately and that takes real skill. The more we learn about her issues, the more we empathise with her. The chemistry between Mia and Wian was out of this world. Their subtle hints were just enough to make the audience excited about a relationship that was to follow.

Karlien (Mia) teaches the group a butterfly symbol to fight bullying. (Sonya Olivier Photography)
Karlien shares her own personal story with Dewald. (Izak de Vries)

Dewald kisses Karlien on the school ground. (Izak de Vries)

Wings for Maria

Maria Strauss plays Norma-Lee who is not only the Mamma Hen who keeps the team together, but she’s also much sharper and smarter than she’ll let you know. Maria is really that friend that we all wish we had in school. She keeps the balance and keeps everyone on track and she does it so well. Even when she speaks next to the tall Beesbal, Maria demands attention and an ear from the audience and she doesn’t let any other character overshadow her. I see a great future for this young lady.

Nom-Nom (Maria) is the glue that keeps the group together. (Izak de Vries)
Nom-Nom also makes the butterfly for support. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Wings for Arno.

Vicky let me know that Arno Horn would be playing the school psychologist, Bert Visser, and I was quite worried about his age at first. How are we going to convince the audience that a guy that is only a few years older than Dewald could come across as a well trained and experienced psychologist? Vicky waved her magic wand and played on the banter younger guys have with each other and even mocking poor Dewald while he’s in trouble at the principal’s office. The older brother relationship was so well portrayed and although Bert didn’t play the largest role, Arno did justice to each and every scene especially when he reveals his own story and feeling of powerlessness in his personal life.

Bert Visser (Arno) supports Dewald though his trauma. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Bert has an idea to help with Dewald's stutter. (Izak de Vries)

Wings for Sithembile

This young lady put the audience on such a rollercoaster ride from the beginning to the end of the production. Playing the school bully, Nandi Mdekane, was the one we all loved to hate. She’s fierce. She’s ruthless. She’s the bully we have nightmares about. Ms Zungu’s role was Oscar worthy as we literally held our breaths when she came on stage. She represented many of our fears and you can’t help but hate her with your inner being. But only at the end when the audience get to see Nandi’s real story, do we get to do some self-reflection. As much as we had inner joy hearing that the bully is getting bullied, we instantly feel real empathy and compassion for her once we see what her mother does. It's not just anyone that could make an audience go from dislike and almost 'booing' her actions to caring deeply for her at the end. Nandi has a story, just like us. People who are hurt, hurt others.

Nandi (Sithembile) is the most notorius bully in school. (Izak de Vries)

Dewald and Nandi get into a brawl. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Nandi shows a side the audience didn't think she had. She also hurts. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Wings for the Leon and Leanna

Leon Kruger (Danie Myburgh) and Leanna Dreyer (Magdel Myburgh) play the roles of Dewald’s parents and bring a lot of acting experience to the stage. They definitely know the business and you can’t help but love them from the get go. Both are critical for comic relief in a serious story, but when Magdel breaks, she’s broken and you feel it. What was important to me in the novel as well, is that I wanted to show that there are still some fun dysfunctional families. Not every family is broken. Some parents are still cool and have a good relationship with their kids. Even when Leon and Leanna plays the role of the principal and Juffrou Amanda, they don’t just turn into totally different actors, but they immediately make you feel that they are indeed different people. How often do we see Tom Cruise in a Tom Cruise role? These two are both chameleons and it’s evident from the start.

Magdel (Leanna) and Danie (Leon) drop Dewald at school with the old station wagon. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Flash back to the night that changed Dewald's whole life. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Magdel and Danie were hilarious especially with picture taking. (Izak de Vries)

Wings for Sima

The highly talented Sima Mashazi plays the role of Mrs Buthelezi and every single person in the audience could relate to teachers they’ve had in their school careers like her. Mrs Buthelezi or also known as “the weapon of mass destruction” comes across as such a sweet and likable teacher, but notice how she silently stabs the students with hurtful comments like “There are pigs in the book. I’m sure you can relate” and “Good job, Nom-Nom. Your two brain cells just did a high five.” How often do we all recall those small hurtful things that teachers said to us as children, because for a child their teacher's opinion often matters more than their own parents' – cause mum and dad has to love me. No? Sima really stands out as Nandi’s abusive mother later in the production and the leaves the audience as if they too have been kicked in the stomach. It all makes sense. The puzzle pieces fall in place. We now know why the bully is the way she is. Sima also wowed Woordfees goers with her spectacular show My Myriam Makeba Story. I can see a rose-coloured career from her.

Mrs Buthelezi (Sima) loves to be part of the drama of the school. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Sima as Nandi Mdekani shouts at her daughter. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

Mrs Mdekani hurts her daughter on stage. (Sonya Olivier Photography)

The whole audience gasped as they watched how Mrs Mdekani abused her daughter. (Izak de Vries)

Wings for the production team

When you write a story, all you need is a reader with a big imagination to build their own world. On stage it's much more complicated than that. Therefore Pierre Nelson deserves a big shout out for being the production manager and for his technical genius abilities. Stefan Benade was in charge of the lighting and the masterful set design, and Schalk Joubert gave us all goosebumps with the perfectly selected music. Much appreciated gentlemen. I'd also like to thank Herman van der Westhuizen for all the support and the cheer-leading in the background.

The cast and crew. Incredibly proud of everyone (Izak de Vries)

Wings for everyone

The greatest gift anyone could ever give me was the opportunity to sit in all the shows. When you write a book, you have no idea when the reader laughs out loud, or when they sob softly. I sat between people who were engaged all through the play. I could hear when the audience gasped for their breaths and I could feel how my story touched them first hand. Thank you to each and everyone who came. I hope that the story made an impact and that you'll join our cause in fighting the new evolution of bullies around the world. I wish wings to you that you all may soar.

The butterfly hand gesture breaks Dewald's stutter curse. (Izak de Vries)

Friday, May 16, 2014

As die donker die son insluk

Vroeg in 2013 hou my moeder aan dat ek moet inskryf vir die RSG radiodrama kompetisie. Ek ken die medium glad nie en is bang ek slaan my naam met 'n plank. Skrywersvriend, Fanie Viljoen, oortuig my uiteindelik en ek gaan sit en skryf 'n storie. 

Ek wou drie dinge doen:
1) Mense vasgenael hou voor die draadloos.
2) Karakters en dialoog skep wat in jou hart in kruip.
3) Dit moes 'n gelukkige einde hê.

So stuur ek die drama in en hoop vir die beste. Kobus Burger van RSG laat my weet dat dit gekies is as een van die top 11 dramas en dit alleen was 'n reuse eer. Verder hoor ek dat ek met die ongelooflike Margot Luyt mag werk en dat hulle die drama wil uitsaai. Die eer was net so groot. Ek dink ek weet presies hoe akteurs voel wanneer Stephen Spielberg kies om saam met hulle te werk.

Op 15 Mei 2014, word 'As die donker die son insluk' uitgesaai. Die rolverdeling sluit in Juanita Swanepoel, Susanne Beyers, Marius du Plooy, De Klerk Oelofse, Theresa Cloete Sedras en Eugenie Wiggins. 

Ek moet eerlik wees. Ek was heel benieuwd oor die hele ding. Mense oor die wêreld sit by rekenaars en draadlose en wag en ek het geen idee hoe dit sal klink nie. Toe die drama begin, het ek sommer dadelik rustiger geword, want Margot Magic het oorgeneem. Die byklanke en rolle was so goed gedoen dat ek nie kon glo dit is my eie skepping nie. Soveel kere interpreteer die regie en karakters 'n skrywer se werk heeltemal anders, maar hierdie groep het die spyker op die kop geslaan met elke rol!

Kliek gerus op die foto hieronder om die drama te luister.

Of gaan soek die potgooi hier om dit af te laai en later te luister.

Hier is van die kommentare wat RSG ontvang het na die drama. Ek is so dankbaar. 'n Mens se ma moet maar hou van jou werk, maar as vreemdelinge dit waardeer, beteken dit jy het iets reggedoen:

- Dit is nou puik. My senuwees is op. Uiters goed. Van Robert

- Dit kon nie beter nie! RSG is tops!

- Radiodrama: Wat 'n voortreflike hartstuk! Dankie.

- Vanaand se Drama is die beste wat ek nog gehoor het. Van Jeanette in Paddock.

- My trane loop dit was ‘n verhaal duisend.

- Dit was die heerlikste luistergenot ek het dit baie geniet dit is n meesterstuk.Isak Heinse in die koue Noord-Kaap.2

- Het nie woorde, dit was pragtig. Al my werkies gelos en by die radio gesit en luister. Baie dankie

- Drama was puik ! Freek.

- Wat n uitmuntende vertolking van die drama vanaand. Martie Erasmus

- Uitstekende storie. Johan

- Baie dankie vir n' pragtige radio teater storie!!

- Dit was darem vanaand n 'Diepdink'-storie!! Dankie RSG! Ouma Upington

- Dit was 'n pragtige storie, die spel was wonderlik, baie dankie, ek mis nooit die stories nie! Dina

- Pragtige, diep grypende verhaal. Ek pik nog n traan af. Van Susan Jantzen van Bethlehem

- Fantasties ! Pierre

- Fantasties en baie leersaam.

- Wat 'n mooi menslike, roerende storie met 'n uitstekende rolverdeling. Geluk Margo Luyt. Maryna

- Puik!! kan ons nog Baie sulke dramas hoor!!Petra

- Eind goed alles goed Pragtig Annamarie Somerset Wes

- Dankie. Dit was so mooi. Dis julle skuld dat hierdie ou tannie nog nie gebad is nie.

- Dankie Margot Dit was pragtig!

- Sommer alles uitstekend Sheila

- Ai dit was diep. RSG gehalte. Hennie

- Komplimente aan almal wat n deel aan hierdie Radioteater gehad het. Laat mens net weer waardeer wat jy het. Susan

- The whole thing was bloody beautiful. Yuki in Sutherland

- Dit was fantasties. Asb meer sulke stories. Liefde. Babsie.

- Die teks en storie was pragtig en die byklanke baie eg, Dina

- Wat meer kan gese word als was puik gedoen. Baie dankie

- Lekker dramatiese luistergenot! Koos en Bets du Pisanie, Vryburg.

- Die radioteater het my behoorlik geboei. Het myself ingeleef. Marilize

- Wonderlik!

- Dit was manjifiek baie baie dankie hoor

- Wat 'n wonderlike "goed voel" verhaal. Baie dankie RSG. Groetnis Hanta Bernard

- Wonderlik en baie dankie RSG julle Magma

- Uitsonderlik uitstekend!

- Dankie, ek sukkel nog steeds met die trane.

- Ek het dit terdee geniet almal het hulle rolle uitstekend gespeel baie dankie, Liz

- Wat 'n pragtige storie! Ja ons kan baie leer uit die lelike goed wat in die lewe gebeur. Ook mense kom altyd by mekaar om te hulp wanner daar 'n nood is.

- I  thoroughly enjoyed the play. Excellent acting, sound effects and direction. Congratulations! Renee in Durban.

- Die drama was in die geheel puik. Baie trane afgevee. Die laaste deel hartroerend.

- Excellent Afrikaans drama with such a happy end

- Puik,puik puik! Bothma v Ladybrand

- Wonderlike onderhoudende Storie! GELUK, Marion Erskine. Dankie dit was met een woord puik! Lynette

- Dit was 'n puik verhaal oor wat gebeur as die waarheid seevier & daar vergifnis is. Antoinette

- Die drama was uitstekend baie geluk RSG jul verdien werklik jul toekenning. Doen so voort. Groete Riana

- Sjoe was so spannend kon nie stilsit nie. Dit as great! Nog asseblief maar 'n liefdesverhaal ook? Groete Chrissie van Edenvale

- Wat 'n heerlike radiodrama! Iets van als, liefde, haat en al d intriges. Baie goeie rolverdeling, heerlike heerlik!!! Anneke v Parys

- Fantastiese drama storie, het dit geniet. Dankie RSG. Ben Combrinck. Worcester.

- Puik drama met byklanke wat nie pla nie. Prof. Louis

- Radio drama uit die boonste rakke van Jaco Edwards

- Dit was seker die beste storie nog.rolverdeling spel als was uitstekend. Baie geluk aan almal met die storie. Rihan

- Baie, baie dankie, ek het dit ONTSETTEND baie geniet!!! Onverbeterlik, baie geluk met n puik produksie. Sien uit na die volgende een. Annelle van Pretoria

- Pragtig! Pragtig! Baie dankie. Marie, Centurion

- Absoluut fantasties gewees dankie Baby

- Hierdie stuk goed spel goed alles perfek. Al wat die stuk kort is n Akademise Prys. Geluk RSG

- DIT was baie goed. Eugenie Wiggens het vir my spraak en drama klasse aangebieb by Wellington Onderwyserskollege in 1980-1981. Vir my was dit n voorreg. Stephnie van Olifantshoek.

- Eind goed alles goed Pragtig Annamarie Somerset Wes

- Alles net fantasties!! Baie geniet.

 - Dit was nou n lekker storie om na te luister. Het aan mens se hart geraak.

- Radio Theater was vanaand FANTASTIES !!!!!!!!!!!!

- Uitstekend! André Victor, WELLINGTON

- Fantasties. Haroon Kana. Vryburg

- As ek punte kon toeken, sou ek 10 uit 10 gee vir vanaand se drama. Uitstekend. Helene de Beer.

- Vanaand se verhaal baie goed het beleef my aangenome kind sy pa selfs hy en ma aangrypind het dit beleef alhoewel pa besluit hy moet studier.

- Die storie het my skoon onder trane met die seuns wat sy ouers nog so by staan en sy pa aba om by n dokter te kom hoe hart seer is dit ni, ek le en luister op my foon geen krag maar ek geniet dit monica van thornhill

- Dankie Margo! Ek was ook soos baie ander elke oomblik geboei. Dis n baie mooi storie met n mooi einde. Die musiek was baie treffend. In die deurmekaar wêreld is dit lekker om na so iets te luister. Baie geluk aan almal met n puik stuk werk! Linda van Upington.

- Se asb vir Margo dat ek die radiodrama ongelooflik geniet het. Haar bekwame hand aan die stuur van die spelleiding was duidelik. Belinda Richardson (Leontientjie)

- Dit het my so weggevoer dat dit vir my gevoel het ek is ook in die skuiling en ook moet help planne maak om daar uit te kom. Die boodskap van versoening so aangrypend en kon nie help om n traan af te vee. Baie dankie Nelrina Myburgh

- Fantasties was die drama vanaand. Ek het in die donker op my bed gele en luister en dit was beter as enige video. Ek het self 'n tornado wat om my woed, maar soos altyd is God baie groter as die storm wat om ons woed. Dankie Margo en span dit was tops. Seen vir julle Marie Beukes.

- Ek het lank laas so uitstekende drama geluister. Al die spelers was uitstekend en baie hartroerende verhaal. Heather Koekemoer

- Met TV af. Radio aan, RSG Bly Gehalte, Vrugteslaai, iets vir almal se smaak. Stem ook, voriges was goed, vanaand, Beste! Viola Taljaard.

- "As die donker die son insluk" Puik! Puik! Puik! Die seun se respekvolle manier van praat met sy ouers is soos ons seun met ons praat - Kosbaar

- die drame was uitstekend my het aan die huil geword dit is 10 uit 10

- Dit was puik. Alle fasette daarvan. Ek was so verbaas om te hoor die skrywer se van is dieselfde as myne aangesien dit so 'n seldsame familienaam is. Nogmaals baie dankie dit was treffend. Tannie Leonie Erskine.

- Gradwill vn willowmore die radio drama was reg leka en so hart seer gewees x het amper gehuil

- Die drama was skitterend - ek het vasgenael voor die radio gesit!Baie dankie! Ria Reichel

- Wie het nou tv en ander tegnologiese foefies nodig as n mens na so n briljante storie kan luister. Doen so voort rsg! Jul is tops. Kobie my so ingeleef

- Die Radio Teater was die beste in jare! BAIE DANKIE. Alet

- Ek wil net dankie se vir so n puik drama stuk. Ek en my man was nou so vas gevang in die stuk ons was eintlik spyt dit het klaar gemaak. Die klank was baie goed uit gebeeld. Dis so goed of ons n tv stuk gekyk het.

- Dankie vir voelgoedstorie. Dis net die ding vir wintersaand. Al die harde werk word waardeer

- Dit was goed om te luister.

- Baie dankie vir n puik drama dit was onbeskryflik Maggie Havenga van Welkom

- Voorwaar 'n aangrypende en spanningsvolle drama gewees (vanaand). Die spel was ook puik. Baie dankie. Lisa Meyer. (Kzn)

- Ongelooflik werklik en roerend! Marietjie

- Radiodrama uitstekend. Ek's besig om winter + somerkaste te ruil, het 3 radios kliphard aangehad in 3 vertrekke, bang ek mis 'n woord. Dnki Margot.

- Die was so goed, dit my jare terug geneem. Ek n middeljarige vrou, alleen, en was n tv slaaf, ma die gegroet, mors dood. Ek werk vir n media huis, baie besig, en tv my ontspanning saans. Die drama om 8 donderdag aand my laat besef, hoe ek my eie karakters kan skep, in my geestes oog almal gesien. Dink tv handelaars n klient verloor. Laaste week net rsg, besef nou wat ek gemis het, geen name, ma my motor radio nou rsg. Mal oor julle. Gee nuus. En vandag julle videos gekyk!!!!! Ek voel so relaxed. Ek nie meer alleen, ek n family !!!

- Die drama BAIE GENIET WOW dit was opwindend! Baie dankie! E Kitching

- Baie dankie dit was briljant! Dit het n mens laat besef dat wêreldsgoed ver vangbaar is maar lewens nie. Antoinette

- Fantasties!!!! Margot Luyt is uitstekend. Dankie! Lag met 'n traan.

- Se asb vir Margo. Alles en Alles Absoluut Puik!. My komplimente aan Alles en Alles!. Gee ons asb meer en meer! Waaragtig dit IS 'n Afrikaanse TOP PRODUKSIE. RSG dit is die Alles. Luister genot Groete. Pieter Roos vanaf Brits.

- Ek weet nie wat om te se nie. Daarom net.;. BAIE DANKIE. Pamela.

- Dit was uitskekend ek kon nie my self help as om saam met die mense te gehuil het nie. Die rol verdeling kon nie beter beter gewees het nie.. Wat van n TVreeks. Goed vedoen Margo en span. RSG. Van Jane in Regentspark JHB

- Drama dit was so natuurlik en asof dit regtig is baie dankie dina

- Bravo margo kan nooit genoeg van jou kry, jy's my ster, liefde Liz

- Storie, spelers, klank, tydgleuf ens. Van vanaand se drama was lieflik! Mardalyne v Heerden. Dankie!

- Als het mooi in mekaar gepas dit was baie mooi ek het n tran of twee gekap van flippie nel n siel op n wiel

- Vanaand se drama was boeiend, die spel en ook die rolverdeling uitstekend. Dankie vir die moeite wat julle doen vir RSG se luisteraars. Julle stasie bly uitstekend, baie dankie. Ilse Maritz

- Ek sit op bossie alleen geelhoutboom buite george ons het nie krag hier nie en ek luister RSG met n kar battery die drama was wonderlik dis so goed ek kyk n video ek het eintlik gehuil dit was pragtig ek mis nie eens die tv nie en is nie spyt dat ek tot vanaand gewag het nie vreeslik dankie dit was fantasties dankie... elaine paxton

- Fantasties! Het dit so geniet. Dit was baie boeiend! Mart

- Vannaand se drama was werklik 'n knap stuk werk en uitstekend vertolk! Nelie Smith, Gordonsbaai

- Ek het vir die eerste keer voluit na die Radio drama geluister en dit terdee geniet want ek hou van "happy endings". Bets van Oudtshoorn

- Dit was nou regtig fantasties.Ek was skoon weggevoor.Die rolverdeling kon nie beter nie.Mooi Margot Luyt Maak weer so.Julia Woensdregt Calvinia

- Dis asemrowend. Tien uit Tien Howard


- Ek het dit baie geniet

- Radio drama baie oorspronklik het dit baie geniet Piet Despatch

- Als in een: wonderbaar. .laat mens dink om eerlik te wees aan ons kinders.Dankie.groete.

- Die Radiodrama was regyig n fees! Iets lanklaas so geniet, baie dankie, Sophia, Hermanus


- Dit was nou n baie mooi verhaal na n langtyd het ek weer vanaand ge luister regtig dit was uit die bo ste rakke dankie

- Die ander dramas was goed maar die een was vir my die beste. Ek het dit baie geniet. Anna van Welverdiend

- Ek is Frikkie en is besig om kaste te bou en het omtrent hartseer geword die storie was so goed uitgeklank dat ek alles kon sien en beleef. Baie dankie

- Uitstekend vir almal wat betroke was met drama ,het rerig geniet kobus

- Pragtig alles was perfek Jaco was perfek mev Herbst Pretoria

- Aangrypend My aandag was nog nooit so vasgevang elke sekonde Baie baie dankie vir al die ure se harde werk Word opreg waardeer. Groete Nelrina Myburgh

- Geluk aan die Regisseur en al die spelers wat vanaand se drama moontlik gemaak het, uitmuntend, my aandag was vas gevang tot die einde.

- Sjoe wat kan ek se die drama dit was wonderlik! Byklanke regie alles was puik. Het gevoel of ek in orkaan was. Trane was volop in my oe! Baie dankie kan nie wag vi volgende drama nie! Groete Susan la Lucia kzn.

- Die drama vanaand se klank en regie was so asof ek in n teater sit. Wonderlike storie tog so waar! Asb RSG hou aan met die dramas ek kannie wag vir Donderdae aande nie. Thelma Kloppers

- Dankie, RSG... het die drama vanaand so BAIE geniet!! En dankie aan almal wat dit vir ons 'lewendig' kon maak met al die nodige byklanke en puik toneelspel deur die karakters. Groete, Maritha.

- Dit was uitstaande goed! Ons het baie meer sulke dramas nodig! Dankie. Peet

- Dankie vir die opvoering. Was uitstekend. Groetnis Charlotte

- Die mooiste radiotiater ooit- van --Joey

- Die radio teater was uitstekend! Die spanning was amper onuithoubaar, en sowaar n goed voel einde. Spelers was baie goed, klank van die beste. Dankie ek het dit baie geniet

- Sjoe ek het vanaand se Radiodrama vreeslik geniet. Bravo aan die Skrywer, Regiseur, Spelers en al die ander mense wat betrokke was. Anita. Durban

- Dit was n hartseer storie kom van af ockert

- Baie dankie Margot Luyt en elkeen wat deel gehad het aan n puik storie! Uit die boonste rakke, soos gewoonlik. Groete Rochelle Carstens

- Dit was 'n puik drama. Donderdae word nou opsy gesit vir radio drama terwyl ek met die hond stap sodat NIEMAND my kan pla terwyl ek soms lag/huil nie. Marita

- Baie goeie drama ,het dit baie geniet Christo en Marietta J v Rensburg van George

- Margo nog n veertjie vir jou. Dit was prima.. Oud 1964 Tralies

- Radio teater uitstekend die beste vir lang tyd gerhard

- Wat 'n fantastiese radio drama. Ek en my elf jarige seuntjie het in die bed gele en dit geluister. Ons het dit so geniet die rol verdeling was goed en elkeen het hulle rolle goed vertolk en die byklanke alles was so werklik dit was of ons dit voor ons oe kon sien gebeur. Baie dankie vir die wonderlike drama.

- RSG Hou asb. Aan met die dramas. Dit is in alle opsigte puik. Groete. Abel Myburgh

- As die donker die son insluk het ek besonder baie geniet. Mens het gevoel jy's in die verskriklike storm en toe baie verlig oor almal oorleef het. Almal het hul rolle uitstekend vertolk. Ook byklanke realisties. Dit was 'n baie suksesvolle drama. Aletta

- Baie danki daar was n les vir ons almal. Di rolverdeling was baie profesioneel, ek het dit baie geniet. Doen so voort. Naomi

- Die storie het my nou vol trane ge het. Dis n mooi stuk werk aan die span wat saam die stukke inmekaar gekry het. Dankie RSG .Van Martin

- Was nou met een woord PUIK, PUIK, PUIK. Was vasgenael voor die radio. Baie dankie. Susie.

- Ek het ook n seun, Jaco Botma. Storie was hartroerend. Het hom gebel om dankie te se dat hy my seun is en dat Phillip my kleinseun en Elizabeth my skoondogter is. N

- It was one word FANTASTIC. Carol from Randburg

- Wat n mooi storie alles van begin tot einde so geniet

- Woorde kan dit nie beskryf hartroerend dankbaar Pearly Beach dankie

- Dit was werklik baie goed het dit baie geniet die akteurs was ook goed

- Van die Beste!wat Ek nog van gehoor het..Groete


- Dit was uitstekend 10 uit 10.

- Lekker gehuil en geluister wonderlik sirl op n wiel henry Nielsen Dankie Rsg

- Ek luister nie dikwels na radio teater nie, maar vanaand was uitstekend, het alles geniet. Baie dankie

- Margo, 'n baie besonderse drama, 'n mens kan hoor hoeveel begrip dit so spesiaal maak. Estee

- Dankie vir die radio drama . Het dit regtig geniet . Die spel , byklanke als was wonderlik . Martie


- Die storie as die donker die son insluk, was baie vermaaklike met wonderlike spel verdeling, ons het gevoel dit was goed opgevoer en werklik aangenaam. Die byklanke en musiek was gepas en goed toegepas. Dankie vir die lekker afrikaanse storie. Ons het dit voorwaar geniet! Annette du Preez

- Absolutely wonderful. Was completely absorbed in the play. M de Waal Grotto Bay


- As di donker... puik. MAAR moeni regte honde byklanke gebruik want my hond antwoord.

- Ons hele gesin het dit baie geniet. My kinders, 6 en 7.5 jaar, het wakker gelê in hul beddens om die storie klaar te luister. Alles was baie goed, storie, spelers en byklanke. Dankie Leenkie

- Ek wil almal wat betrokke was by hierdie pragtige aanbieding van vanaand se Radio Teater bedank vir 'n puik stuk. Dit het vir my gevoel asof ek self daar was, midde in die orkaan, want die byklanke was ook baie goed. Dankie, dit is heerlik om te luister na sulke goeie aanbiedinge in my eie taal. Dit maak my trots om Suid Afrikaner en Afrikaans te wees. Jeanette v/d Merwe / Randfontein

- Uitstekende drama deur Marion Erskine. Baie goed verwerk en vertolk! Dan & Shirley Adonis

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reading South Africa - An analysis of a recent survey that was conducted in September 2013

The Reason why I conducted a survey

The Beeld newspaper of South Africa had some shocking statistics on the 2nd of September. In an article called 'A nation that doesn't read' it stated that a mere 14% of South Africans actually read books where only 1% of the nation is prepared to pay for a book. Sure, not every citizen of the country is a book worm, but why are bookshops not scarce and bringing in revenue. Why do people crowd like bees around book sales in malls if they don’t read? Karin Burger of the Rapport newspaper responded with another article a few days later called 'Only 14% read? That's old news!" This time the statistics seemed a little more promising, but I wasn't convinced. Reaching the entire country with one survey, was an impossible task for a bloke sitting somewhere in Dubai and therefore I tried to target the Afrikaans and English markets only. Not only did I want to prove the Beeld statistics wrong, but I was also interested in one major element: Do people who come from families that read, tend to read more than those who don’t come from families that read? Does it even matter? I also wanted to know if those who read books, stick with writers they are familiar with and/or whether they give new writers a fair chance as well?

The hypothesis

I believe that at least 50 percent of the South African population read. I also believe that when parents set an example to their kids, their children will most probably become readers themselves. I also feel that more Afrikaans speaking South Africans still prefer English books than their mother tongue. I assume more Afrikaans people will do the survey, because of mutual friends. I'm taking a guess, but I think the three favourite Afrikaans writers will be Deon Meyer, Andre P. Brink and Maritha van der Vyfer. In English I'm going to go for John Grisham, Jodie Picoult and Wilbur Smith.

Factors that may have influenced the survey
  • I asked people I knew on Facebook to forward the survey to people they knew. The idiom is true: Birds of a feather, flock together and because I’m involved with reading and writing, so are my friends and their friends and I believe that we did not target the whole spectrum of readers and non-readers.
  • I also gathered that people who don’t mind reading, also don’t mind doing surveys. It makes sense: "If I don’t even read a short story, why am I going to do a silly survey?"
  • I didn't just advertise the survey on book related groups. I asked people from all walks of life and even targeted expat South Africans living abroad to find out about their reading habits.

The Questions

The questions were as follow:

  1. How many books do you read on Average per year?
  2. What is your mother tongue?
  3. What language do you prefer to read in?
  4. Rate which genre you prefer.
  5. Name 3 of your favourite Afrikaans writers.
  6. Name 3 of your favourite English writers.
  7. Do you come from a family that reads?

The answers

More than 300 individuals participated in the survey and I'm sharing the following statistics with you.

52% of people said that they read more than 20 books a year. I find the blue and purple very interesting. 20% (purple) mentioned that they read 10 - 20 books a year, while 24% said only 1 - 10 books. Almost 4% said they don't read any books whatsoever. This means almost a third of participants read less than 10 books a year.

On to the next graph.

I wasn't surprised that the survey was answered by 91% of Afrikaans speakers. As I said in my hypothesis, friends who send the survey to friends have more Afrikaans friends than English speaking friends. This does mean that we'll get a better impression then on the reading habits of Afrikaans citizens.

Preferred language to read in

Also not the biggest surprise. 66% of participants preferred reading in English. Is this because there are more genres and choices out there or because they just dislike Afrikaans literature in general? 

While cross referencing the data, I found that 5.3% of the English participants say that don't read a single book per year, compared to 3.7% of Afrikaans speaking participants. Could we then suggest that Afrikaans people in general are more frequent readers? I would want to rather have a fair amount of both languages answering, before I would make such a statement.

What do you read?

I was almost sure that mystery and suspense would be front runners in this category, but I have to say that I didn't expect non-fiction in the 3rd place. Then again biographies and autobiographies beat romance, which was also another surprise. Why don't publishers not just focus more on some good autobiographies then? It's something to consider.

Historical fiction didn't do too poorly either and it seems there is still a definite place for it in the market. I was however surprised by poetry. It might not be there with the top runners, but there is still a market. Readers still read it.

Favourite Afrikaans authors

I have to say that I was most surprised with this category in particular. Not so much about the favourites, but of the variety I saw. Deon Meyer was a clear favourite which was no surprise at all. But close on his heels came Maritha van der Vyfer, Andre P. Brink, Dalene Matthee and Etienne van Heerden. The fans also love Annelie Botes and Chanette Paul with PG du Plessis and Karin Brynard right on their tails. I expected to see these names and they all deserve to be there. 

The surprise however was the amount of other authors who readers chose as their favourite Afrikaans authors of all time. Some got more votes than others, but in general these shone through: Maretha Maartens, Solly Osrovech, F.A Venter, Riana Scheepers, Pat Stamatelos, Leon van Nierop, Deon Opperman, Herman Charles Bosman, Ena Murry, Elize Parker, Bernette Bergenthuin, Elsa Joubert, Breyten Breytenbach, Antjie Krog, Marlene van Niekerk, Irma Joubert, Irma Venter, Margaret Bakkes, Alexander Strachan, Marion Erskine, Helene de Kock, Pieter Pieeterse, Wilna Adriaanse, Marzanne leroux-van der boon, Dana Snyman, Toast Coetzer, Koos Kombuis, Marlene van Niekerk, Steve Hofmeyr, Jeanne Goosen,, Isa Konrad, Sophia Kapp, Braam de Vries, Anchen Troskie, Jaco Jacobs, Abraham H. de Vries, Stella Blakemore, Daniel Hugo, Elenor Baker, Marlize Hobbs, Reza de Wet, Nicola Hanekom, Carina Diedericks-Hugo, Dolf van Niekerk, Ingrid Winterbach, Susan Coetzer, Eben Venter, Francois Bloemhof, Leon Roussouw, Gustav Venter, Chris Barnard, Adrio Konig, Karl Kielblock, Gerrie Radlof, Hennie Aucamp, Ettie Bierman, Rachelle Greeff, Rika du Plessis, Mari van den Berg, Deon Malherbe, Alta Cloete, Annelie Barkhuizen Le Roux, Elsa Winckler, Kristel Loots, Etienne Leroux, CJ Langehoven, Christa Jonker-Jordaan, Chris Karsten, Audrey Blignaut, Dirk Jordaan. Elizabeth Eybers, Anoeshka von Meck, Marzane le Roux, Dan Sleigh, Karel Schoeman, Marietjie de Jongh, J.M. Gilfillan, Helena Hugo, Max du Preez, Dot Serfontein, Hettie Britz, Carla van der Spuy, Margie Orford, Fanie Olivier, Fanie Viljoen, Jan F E Celliers, N P Van Wyk Louw, Abraham Nel, Riana Mouton, C Johan Bakkes, Christene Neser, Topsy Smith, Lizette Murray, Jaco Fouché, Anna Pentzhorn, Henning Pieterse, Amos van der Merwe, Nathaniël, Engela van Rooyen, Petra Muller, Wilma Stockenstrom, Willie Martens, Tryna du Toit, Madelie Human. (I apologise for not checking every name and spelling and also their books)

And English?

The list of favourite English authors was just as extensive. Grisham, Picoult and Wilber Smith were definitely favourites, but Terry Pratchet, Dan Brown, Francine Rivers, Khaled Hosseini, James Patterson, Paulo Coelho, J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, Danielle Steele, Koontz and Karen Kingsbury were high up there with the others. Although a few new authors were mentioned, it seemed that established writers definitely got the most love from loyal fans.

Monkey see, monkey do?

A whopping 76% of participants answered "Yes" to this question. It is a clear indication that when children see their parents with a book, they might do the same. 

I also did some cross referencing and also found out that 56% of people who said they don't read a single book, came from families that don't read. An interesting statistic to say the least. But look at this: 83.1% of people who read more than 20 books a year, said they come from a family that reads a lot.

It all boils down to this...

As I said before, I wanted to prove two things.
  • That the Beeld article had outdated and unreliable data, and
  • That families who love reading have a definite impact on their children.

From the data gathered, I could prove both.

Although 300 people aren't nearly enough to rely upon, I tend to agree more with these statistics as I feel they're more spot on. I'd love for book lovers to conduct a similar survey in the other major languages, too. Still, I think it is impossible that only 14% of the country read. 

I think publishers should ask themselves if they could learn anything from this. They're on the right track with suspense novels, but who knew that biographies are current favourites? They should also establish why Afrikaans people still prefer to read English books. Are they better, or are the genres and options just more in English?

What I found most interesting about the favourite authors, is that many new Afrikaans voices are being heard. In contrast to this, very few new English authors are heard. What can we do to get the word out and help them earning fans and a fair chance?

I want to personally thank each and everyone who participated in this survey. Please be examples to your family members. You now see proof that kids need a reading environment to ensure that they will become passionate readers. Never stop reading.

“We read to know that we are not alone.” 
― William Nicholson


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Watch this space...


Oh, son of a sweet potato, where do I start? Well, many of you have wondered in recent months what the heck is going on in the life of Marries. He’s not traveling the world (as much) and he’s quite quiet for a self-proclaimed Facebook addict.  Well, it’s finally time to explain it all.  Aren’t you happy?

I can’t even start to tell you about the stress and doors slamming in my face I went through the last few months. I’ve had to crawl out of deep dark holes and even pamper every little stomach ulcer that popped up along the way.

I have left the United Arab Emirates and will be moving to Egypt for the year. Thankfully Alexandria, so relax to all of you who just had a Cairo-attack now. Alexandria is on the coast and the people there are trying to rebuild the new Egypt. I will be working in a boys’ school and will also do teacher training.


Let me take you a few months back. In March 2012, I had an interview with the local Education Department in the UAE. It was very successful and after my trip to Greece, I was told that I was chosen to work for them in the next academic year (starting September).  I didn’t hear a lot more, and since my contract was coming to an end, I applied for other jobs too. I had a total of 16 successful interviews. Everyone loved me, they loved the CV and they all had one thing in common:  “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”  I also got a job in Abu Dhabi teaching at a good primary school and one in Dubai. They verbally agreed to take me. 

The wait

On 24 July this year, I flew back to South Africa and locked my car and apartment. At this stage, I had no contract whatsoever. The three weeks in South Africa was very stressful, especially as I was told I won’t be able to buy a house in SA as I don’t have enough debt.  Yup, you need debt to make debt. Wham! As the doors closed in my face, I remained positive and hoped for the best.

13 August

I packed my stuff to return to Abu Dhabi. Had to return my apartment and either store my furniture or sell it. Until this day, no contract came my way. Out of pure going-nutsness, I applied for the job in Egypt. I had the interview and was successful. They were extremely nice and I had a good feeling about the program. Still, I didn’t think I’d take it, as the Emirates was a country I was used to and ‘safer’ than Egypt at this stage.

14 August

I flew back to Abu Dhabi and came to a full apartment. I got two emails that day; one offering me a job ‘somewhere’ in the desert ‘sometime’ around October. Maybe. Everything in my being wasn’t happy with this. You can’t tell me where. You can’t tell me when?  The other email was from Egypt. I got the job and they were really excited. This is where I’ll stay. This is what I’ll do. This is how much. To the point. I was hoping to hear back from the Dubai job or the primary school job, but it was Eid holidays and no one answered phones or emails. 

The big pack

So I started advertising my furniture online. Thank goodness an angel from Canada came and almost bought 80% of my home. Next was the car. Kia Camel had to go. Numerous people came to see her and I finally sold her to a very nice Pakistani man.

Visa issues

I already had to fly to the Emirates on my own cost. When I decided to take the Egypt job, I went to the embassy and tried there. Nope. I can wait 4 weeks and maybe they can give me a visa, but they can’t promise. I was no longer a resident of the Emirates. Big sigh.  I informed the company and they told me they’d try and get hold of the school in Alexandria to apply for my working visa from there. They couldn’t get hold of the school as it was still holidays.  I had one option. Pay a one way ticket to South Africa and get my visa done there.

So I handed back my apartment and climbed on the next Emirates flight to South Africa. Another whopping R5500 to get back to Johannesburg. I went to the embassy on Monday morning and have the visa in my hand right now.

That word called Secrecy

I apologise to all of you who felt left in the dark. Because I didn’t know where my life was heading, I kept most of this quiet. I’ve got numerous friends who really care and it’s hard replying to a 100 people a day: “I still don’t have a job” or “I don’t know when.”   This is why I was quiet about all of this.

I am already missing the Emirates terribly and some people more than others.  ;)  I hope that this year in Egypt will be interesting and I hope for some job satisfaction. Egypt will also be the 58th country I’ve ever visited, so at least one more tick there. Thanks to all of you for all your support and encouragement. You know who you are.

I’ll be landing in Alexandria on Thursday.

Watch this space.


Monday, June 11, 2012

A Decade Away ... The last 10

Over the last few weeks, I've counted down some of the most significant things/people/places that have shaped my life. The reflection over these days made me realize again how far I've actually come and what I was able to achieve. Although there were many mountains in my way, I found a way around them and I flew each time my wings would let me.  The countdown is random and by no means is one of these more important than the other.

So, let's start the countdown:

#10 - I became a ... chicklit writer (WTFalafel?)

Donatello en Volksie all the way in London
When I was told that I had to change my romantic comedy into a chicklit novel, I was petrified. I had no knowledge about this genre and I've seen 'Bridget Jones' Diary'.  That was it. So I had to do research and a lot of it.  The next problem was... I was a male. Chicks won't fall for a man trying to get into a woman's head.  We considered writing under as pseudonym, but in the end I said: "Screw it, let's see if I can win the girls over".  I asked many questions and tried my very best to understand female behavior as chicklit demands that.  After rewriting the book 3 times, I finally saw my baby born and she was gorgeous. One newspaper heading read:  "Finally, a guy that gets us girls."  This was a highlight of my career.

#9 - I got to hang out with some of the world's most beautiful women

The girls in Sri Lanka
I have had the most amazing friends in Taiwan and they were better support than a good Nike sports bra. After arriving in Abu Dhabi, I found it hard to make friends of that quality again and it took me more than a year to really sort out some good friends.  Louna (in the middle) was the first of the girls who came into my life through the 'Lekkerlees Boekrak' (read the next entry). We became good friends right away and the other girls joined.  I have had many great times with all of these lovely women and they make me look good. This did wonders for my own self-esteem as well. I'm so thankful for them in my life.

#8 - I started the 'Lekkerlees Boekrak' (Reading for fun Bookshelf)

In this day and age, with the vast amount of resources out there, it is humanly impossible to read all the books out there or even just a small amount of them. In this rat race of life, I found it incredibly frustrating buying a book, starting it, and half-way through needing to put it down because it either bored me or didn't interest me at all. So I started the Lekkerlees Boekrak on Facebook with a dream to find others who like to read and to find books that are leisure reads.  I got more than I bargained for. I was blessed with a new family. Soon the people - or Rakkers as I call them - started crawling into my heart, because we all shared the same respect and love for reading. Famous writers joined and even publishers and book shops.  Today we're more than 400 strong and I can't imagine my life without these people in it. They're witty. They're funny. But most of all, unlike many forums out there, they have respect for each other. If you don't like a writer or a book, you don't slam them and break them down. Many like to slam social networks... I think it's only because they've never met the right people over there. 

#7 - I completed the Inca Trail in Peru

I know I can. I know I can.

WARNING: The Inca Trail is not for wimps. Anybody who's ever survived it, can tell you. I've seen a 45 minute documentary on it once on National Geographic and somehow in the back of my head I convinced myself that it's a nice 45 minute trek to Machu Piccu - one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.  So I signed up.

W T H W I T ?!!   (What the heck was I thinking?!!)

It turned out that the 45 minute walk was more of a 4 day trek and not only was that tough, but the altitude was a killer. The 'Dead Woman's Pass' deserves it's name as you attempt to walk at 4,215 m above sea level. I could barely give 10 steps at a time. It was pure torture. 

Thank goodness for a crazy bunch of people in my group, we pulled each other through and we made it to the final day. Not something I'll do very soon again, but I'm proud of myself that I did. 

#6 - I saw the Amazon

Eating live termites in the Amazon

As a child you sit in school and you learn about places around the world. The moment I first learned about he Amazon, I was intrigued. Biggest rain forest, different species, sounds, anacondas, piranhas... how can this not capture any child? I told myself that one day I'd like to see this and experience it first hand.  And I did! I even got to swim with piranhas. Well, I was told they were 'vegetarian' and stupid me believed the guy. After I jumped in, and found out that they weren't really vegetarian, he told me:  "I didn't think you'd jump."  By far one of the most amazing places on earth. You feel like Pocahontas... not so much the long hair and big eyes... but more the connection to nature. It's as if the energy in the nature here is magnified.

#5 - I gave back in India

Poor (but happy) kids in Agra.
So many people asked me why I waited so long to see India. Well, the reason was that I didn't think I was prepared for it. It's only after you arrive in this fascinating country, that you realize you can never be prepared for India. It's one emotional roller-coaster from the get go. The love/hate relationship for India is something you have to experience for yourself as a mere blog can't ever explain this place.

The Marries Goody Hamper
The one moment you look up at the Taj Mahal and your heart aches at one of the most amazing love stories ever told. The next you look at the poverty around the Taj and how people literally don't have enough to eat while tourists flock in and out of Agra. Then the monument reminds you of the unfair world we have to live in.

I never give money to children while traveling. I don't believe it sets a good example. Therefore I always travel with stickers, or books, or pens or something useful. Candy is never a good idea as these kids can't afford decent dentists out there.  So, while taking in Agra, I found these kids playing cricket on the street and they realized I had a camera. Soon props were collected. Cricket bats, bricks, dried pot plants, a cow and even a new born baby to make their shots all worth while. As I handed out the stickers and colouring books, the kids' eyes lit up and they thanked me immediately. Appreciation. Something you don't get much from working where I've been working for the last 4 years. A mere 'thank you' was more uncommon that rain. I came to bless the kids in India, and turned out to be the blessed one instead.

#4 - A world of friends

I literally have good friends from all over the globe.
If there is one thing I'm probably most grateful for my life overseas, it's the fact that I have been able to meet friends from all over the globe. I've tried their cuisine, lived their culture, learned new words and by doing this, my perception of the world changed dramatically. The old cliche to "walk in someone's shoes" has taken a whole new meaning to me. What if I had so little rain? What would I do? What if I had to wear those clothes, wouldn't that make me behave in a certain way again? I am grateful for all the global friends I have over all the continents. Thanks for blessing me and teaching me your ways.

#3 - I had a White Christmas

Real reindeer, real snow, real Lapland.

I don't think growing up in the Southern Hemisphere is the worst thing when you need to celebrate Christmas. It's mid-summer and we usually laze around the pool or go to the beach. But deep down we're jealous of the cozy Christmases we always see on TV. Warm inside, fires crackling, snow falling.  This is why seeing a White Christmas was one of the first 10 items ever on my Bucket List.  In 2011, I finally went to Scandinavia and got my White Christmas. I wasn't sorry for a moment. It was everything I dreamed it would be a more.

#2 - I met the sweetest orphans in the world

Having ice cream in Nairobi, Kenya

So often I hear people complaining about trivial things. The chips are overcooked, waiter! My hair isn't exactly the shade I wanted! I can't stand this heat/cold/neighbour... and the list goes on.  I often wonder when last people have removed themselves from their comfort zones and actually tried to understand how others live.  

I was so blessed in Kenya to meet these lovely orphans. I set a day of my holiday aside to go play with them. What an honour to be overwhelmed by their acceptance and love. Their hugs were so genuine and they appreciated the attention I gave to them. They made me realize that - even though I remind myself how blessed I am - I don't remind myself often enough. 

To anyone of you that have never been part of a community project... I urge you to do it. You change your thoughts on so many things. You will never be sorry.

#1 - I got precious time with mom

Mom and I in Thailand

Being a decade abroad, means you are a decade away from your family as well. While many take things like birthdays, Christmases and other holidays for granted with their loved ones, the 'overseas orphans' have to make the best of the time we get with them.

In Santorini, Greece
When I left for Taiwan in 2002, my mother knew a different me. I was defeated and weak. My self-esteem hit rock bottom and more than that, I was poor and pathetic. Slowly but surely my mother saw the new me rising from the ashes. A newer, stronger me. Someone who showed this life that it won't get him down. Someone who grabbed opportunities by the horns and who took chances where he never would have.

I am so thankful that I got to spend quality time with mom and that I had the funds to take her abroad as well to show her my life and the things that I get up to. We laugh together and we've even cried together. Telling tales of what life was like when dad was still around. What he would have said about all the things I got up to in the past few years. My mom is my best friend and I'm so thankful for her. I've missed many days being away from her, but we made each and every second count that we got to spend together. And these moments we treasure when were far apart... and humming one of your favourite songs, as we might be "wishing on the same bright star."