Story: Motsieng Mooketsi
Photos by: Walk a mile in my shoes and edited by Maklera Magazine
Jouberton: Gladys Ntombizile Saul is a mother of the community of Jouberton in Ext 7. She and five other board members run a community centre called “Walk a mile in my shoe” the centre registered as an NPO on February 2017 and the project has had an immense impact on the community.
When talking to her, she took us on a painful journey of her own childhood of having to loose her mother at the age of 11, and journeyed into details of the experiences she went through as a child. “My mother passed away when i was only 11 years old. I had to raise my siblings who were only 2 years and 8 months old. She lived with her relatives from her mother’s side and had to mature faster and be a mother and role model for her two siblings.
This painful and difficult childhood made her love helping people as this would make her “walk a mile in the shoes” of people going through hardships she once went through in life, “She says all her childhood she never had anyone come up to her to ask if she is doing fine, which is something she longed for all her life. This made her compassionate instead of being bitter, she chose to love people rather than being spiteful.
Her son “Brian Saul” is the executive director of the organization and grew up with the humanitarian spirit he inherited from his mother, he played a role in different centres during the period he was in Johannesburg and coming back to Klerksdorp inspired him to assist his mother run the organization to better and change lives in society.
According to “Brian” they’ve got bigger plans in place for “Walk a mile in my shoes” currently they are assisting over 200 children in the community, the centre operates at their home and what they do is to provide healthy and nutrional meals for children from Monday to Friday. They also have after school classes were they assist the children with their homework.
The children are from neighboring sections in Jouberton, most of the children are from poverty stricken homes and others do not have parents they are also operating in Jacarranda and an informal settlement called “Skierlik” in Alabama.
The philanthropic efforts of the “Walk a mile in my shoes” organization has encouraged different stakeholders from across the board to join in the helping hand to invest in this milestone organisation which intends to establish a multipurpose centre that can be able to have extramural activities for kids in the fields of Education, Sports, Music, Lifeskills, Arts and Culture and many more.
A popular local businessman “Maties” has given them a space in his complex to use for the centre’s daily operations, Zesto a Mielie Meal company is a partner to the centre and provides the children with nutritional porridge.
There is also a piece of land which the organisation has identified to be used for the development of a multipurpose centre which is a goal in progress for the centre. Currently they are in talks with the Matlosana”Klerksdorp” municipality for this piece of land which will be developed to be a fully functional centre with different activities to it.
“Walk a mile in my shoes” has links with “Top International” artists who know about it and want to assist in the development and investment of the centre, through music and other resources. The community building initiative has managed to get land in Mahikeng which they got from one of the chiefs there to also a establish the same centre because there’s a need for it.
The walk a mile in my shoes is also rehabilitating gangsters who were feared by members of the community. The gangsters are helping with operations of the centre together with other volunteers.