Fos­ter­ing care for com­mu­nity

Go! & Express - - News - QHAMANI LINGANI

BORN and bred in North End, Les­ley Ann Fos­ter is the epit­ome of what ev­ery young wo­man as­pires to be.

Raised by the first phys­i­cal train­ing (PT) teacher in East Lon­don, Fos­ter said she in­her­ited her work ethic from her mother, Merle Fos­ter.

“She was a ca­reer wo­man and I got that from her.

“She also fought so­cial in­jus­tices on many fronts in the com­mu­nity and at­tended to the needs of peo­ple. I also got that from her,” Fos­ter said.

Fos­ter, one of The GO & Ex­press’s women achiev­ing great things this Women’s Month, said she had been an ac­tivist from an early age and was very in­volved in the Good Shep­herd Angli­can Church.

She used to play the or­gan and started run­ning fundrais­ing events.

“I ac­tu­ally learnt fundrais­ing from the church. A lot of the things I do, I started when I was still very young,” Fos­ter said.

“I used to col­lect clothes and have jumble sales out­side the church. Af­ter­wards, I would or­gan­ise teas for the se­nior cit­i­zens with the money raised. I also taught them craft work. We did lovely things. My pas­sion has al­ways been work­ing with peo­ple, es­pe­cially older peo­ple.”

Fos­ter, a founder mem­ber and di­rec­tor of Masi­manyane Women’s Sup­port Cen­tre, has won many ac­co­lades, most re­cently win­ning the award for best so­cial en­tre­pre­neur at the BWA (Busi­ness­women’s As­so­ci­a­tion) Re­gional Busi­ness Achiev­ers Awards.

“It’s team­work, re­ally. I would never have got that award if it wasn’t for the staff of Masi­manyane.”

Grow­ing up in the apartheid era, she said she ex­pe­ri­enced a lot of chal­lenges but her mother taught her how to read and that has con­trib­uted im­mensely to her broad view of the world.

“One of the chal­lenges grow­ing up in those apartheid days was poor ed­u­ca­tion. A lot of in­jus­tices were suf­fered in the places we lived. I al­ways re­mem­ber the homes we lived in – they al­ways leaked.

“There were times we had to move our beds be­cause the wa­ter was com­ing in. My dad was not ed­u­cated, he was a waiter and earned very lit­tle. Later on, he be­came an in­sur­ance agent and a well-known fig­ure in the com­mu­nity,” she added.

Speak­ing on the is­sue of young women dat­ing much older men, she said it boiled down to how so­ci­ety val­ued women.

“Wo­man are still op­pressed ev­ery­where, it doesn’t mat­ter what cul­tural back­ground one comes from.

“Apartheid also told us we weren’t beau­ti­ful enough. For a wo­man to be ac­cepted in the com­mu­nity, she has to be good, sweet, shut up and ac­cept. That al­ready pushes us down. We are not able to stand on our own two feet and be in­de­pen­dent. Most young women don’t have that sense of in­de­pen­dence.”

It is this in­de­pen­dence and strength we all need to cel­e­brate this Women’s Month.

BEA­CON OF HOPE: Les­ley Ann Fos­ter is a per­son worth cel­e­brat­ing this Women’s Month for her ded­i­ca­tion and work with those in need

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