Innovator - Breaking the mould
Catching Dreams and Making them Work
The following models and changes for the good in various communities and lives of individuals, saw the light as a result of the unstinting efforts of "The Dreamcatcher". To find new ways that work better:
- The first integrated model for the care of ageing and physically challenged people, to move away from institutionalising but assisting many individuals to remain with dignity part of society and the community for as long as possible. It offered a unique new way of what is today knowsn as "assisted lving": whilst still living on your own, in sourcing services ranging from food, basic and primary health care, social programmes and home help. Not only was it to form the model (later supplied to the National Health and Social Services departments), and foundation of current social care in South Africa): It was groundbreaking in that it was a comprehensive care system in the town where she lived, which transcended racial and cultural boundaries and everyone had access to it. It was named PROJECT CARE (OMGEE).
- Realising that some age groups wished to live together in groups and so sustain and look after each other, two residential areas soon followed in Stilbaai and Melkhoutfontein where people could live in dignity in lovely homes adapted to their needs.
- Turning to the local economy and job creation for the many unemployed, a comprehensive tourism and local economic development plan followed, which once more INCLUDED the local black cultures, whom Rossouw always saw as ONE community. Many sparks flew as a result of this initiative! All in a bid to bring local community harmony and facilitate self pride in the local mothers and teenage daughters in the region, while also raising funds for the schools in the region, three successful fashion events were hosted, accompanied by live music and gourmet food. "It was sheer MAGIC seeing the youth's self esteem grow!" she says.
- The lack of access and knowledge of tourism and other peripheral opportunities then spurred Anthea on to help disenfranchised individuals and communities tap into the "cash cow" of tourism, to help bring jobs and dignity and peace through association to her local community. So was born the moniker by which she is fondly known far and wide, 'Dreamcatcher': Moses Kleynhans (who had visited Rossouw's husband's surgery, where after Anthea had offered him a lift home, as he had no transport and the couple knew he was very ill), asked Anthea to become his community's "Droomvanger" (Dreamcatcher). He went on to formally name her "Jy's ons Droomvanger" ("You ARE our Dreamcatcher!"), after observing ways in which Rossouw helped build bridges between community members and the 'outside world', to help bring health, happiness and far more comfortable and dignified living standards to Melkhoutfontein at Stilbaai in South Africa. Today, the philosophy and approach of Dreamcatcher is recognised as one of the leading and success stories in terms of sustainable local economic development and poverty alleviation, bringing hope and dignity to scores of women and thousands of children in communities around South Africa. This "alternative" model for sustainable development, is today recognised by various training institutions and organisations in many countries as an alternative which huge possibilites for sustainable poverty alleviation.
- Blazing a new "first of its kind in the country", trail of waste prevention at group housing, in the County in the United Kingdom, where she found herself later, Rossouw feels she had to give back to a community which became her new home: Says Rossouw, as passionate about the environment as she is of making a difference that works, to people:
- Other lures such as sitting on the National Marketing Board of South African Tourism as well as regionally in the Western Cape province, while also being involved as a community-based responsible tourism route developer (i.e. the corporate tourism industry) and for that matter consulting among academics from the likes of University of Stellenbosch, Grahamstown and others, though found to be rewarding, were never sufficient for Rossouw, who always reached further to as she puts it: "boots and all in the getting-it-done-part, to find practical solutions that work". Rossouw was also repeatedly asked to stand for political office, yet always declined.
"When the time came to support my ailing husband, my staunchest lifelong supporter, I cared for him until the end. Though gravely ill, he supported my resolve, and inspired me to do something about the huge quantities of waste going to landfill from our flats in Crawley in the United Kingdom. Once more, no practical model existed on how group housing could manage their waste, which includes food waste, more effectively, in the county and the country. This was a wonderful way to challenge myself once more to develop and introduce a grand new way of dealing with waste at group housing developments. I look forward to the opportunity of working closely with my peers and the local authorities to pioneer this model across the County". says Rossouw.
After spending 18 months and over 600 hours as a volunteer in planning, researching, testing and recording, Anthea's community food digester model for waste management, trialed at Walstead Court group housing development, is now recognised as a model with significant merit to address the problem of waste at group housing developments. Known as the Rossouw-Walstead Model, it is viewed as highly implementable across the county and potentially the United Kingdom, as it holds the potential to divert significant quantities of waste to landfill and cut down on waste removal costs.
The philosophy of this visionary woman is that tourism, if developed wisely, creatively, sensibly and sensitively, is a powerful vehicle to build micro enterprises and promotes peace and understanding between communities and countries.
Anthea has harnessed her knowledge of community development, as also her understanding of the barriers, which prevent micro enterprises, situated on mainstream tourism routes, dominated by large tourism enterprises, to become gainfully involved in business. Starting out alone, she has pioneered many projects to help many individuals out of the poverty trap and her innovative approach to waste management both in the United Kingdom and South Africa, where she plans, with a group of "Friends of Dreamcatcher", to implode skills and knowledge on how best to manage waste at households and small and micro businsesses before it gets into the waste stream, is to roll out early in 2010. A passionate team of co-workers and volunteers assists The Dreamcatcher in South Africa.
Anthea's approach from the outset was to put an end to 'aid and disharmony without end and an end to waste without end'. To empower and motivate people to Change Lanes as she calls it, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to run a business in a global industry such as tourism, which she says, is the "cash cow" of many countries, and not less so in South Africa. Her other passion, considered humble, yet to her all-important: for individuals to manage their own waste more effectively to save money and contribute to the environment of which people are irrefutably the custodians. The only problem, says 'The Dreamcatcher" is: "that the local communities often never get to share in the benefits as business people in tourism, or don't grab the chance to be actively involved in their own destiny. They remain servants of the system, instead of running their own business service or servicing their own waste needs more effectively".
Over 100 projects involving over 20 000 women, children, youth, the aged and disabled, benefit from the model for sustainable development initiated by "The Dreamcatcher" as she is fondly known. Anthea has developed unique and groundbreaking micro business models and training and skills transfer programmes commensurate with what it takes to compete for the tourists spend, to implement at grassroots level for impoverished and disadvantaged women. Today these women are empowering themselves to empower their children and have become the job creators. Her further quest to find a solution to empower local communities in South Africa to learn to manage their own waste gainfully, remains her resolute objective.
In the words of Annie Saayman of Melkhoutfontein, Stilbaai:
"Dear Anthea I have known you for a long time. You are like a star, because you care for the poor. You are an all-in-one person - like a sister, a friend, a teacher and a mentor and a healer of heavy hearts. Your training and transfer of skills is interesting and worthy. You are our Dreamcatcher and you have made things happen for us. Thanks for all your love - you are my special star - you ARE our Dreamcatcher!".
The operational network of the Dreamcatcher Foundation, of which Anthea is the founder, reaches across South Africa and the international business and communication community, into Canada, United Kingdom, The Netherlands and the United States of America, Spain and beyond.
Anthea Rossouw holds the distinction of being the only person from the private sector in South Africa, to have served simultaneously on Township, Local Authority, Regional, Provincial and National Tourism Boards. The many disadvantaged women in communities nominated her to this position from across South Africa. She thus literally sees the big picture.
With many years experience and contact with tourism globally but most significantly, its impact on the local communities, her experience of the dynamics of this multimillion rand, dollar, euro and pound industry, has identified the many barriers (some of which are invisible to the eye), which inhibit black and or unemployed or impoverished woman entrepreneurs and talented small tourism enterprises from making a success in tourism and its peripheral products such as crafting, manufacturing etc.
Anthea spent over 25 years in communities to develop a model to address these barriers, which would ultimately ensure the success of the small businesses, aligned to Dreamcatcher. Cordaid Nederland and Dreamcatcher Nederland, and various training institutions identified this model as a model for international learning.
Now living in the United Kingdom, Anthea volunteers at her local resident flat complex, where she piloted her groundbreaking model to manage waste. Recently participating in a 60-mile cycle marathon from London to Cambridge, in aid of Cancer, to which her life partner succumbed. Says Rossouw in her usual passionate manner: "This was for my sister who is currently a breast cancer survivor, the next one is for Henri - the fight against this silent beast that plunges families into immeasurable grief, must go on!".
Anthea when visiting South Africa, implodes most of her time as a volunteer: teaching and assisting various community leaders to alleviate poverty in terms of the outcomes based model she has developed. She is revered in communities, where she can be seen sitting alongside the women ("here lie my most treasured experiences and learning" she notes), in deep discussions with women from many different cultures. Still volunteering her skills, passion and knowledge for many people in communities across South Africa, to ensure that what has been built, is not lost, Anthea inspires and gives direction to the Dreamcatcher team daily via internet technology, to continue in her quest and so facilitate her personal mission, to make Mandela's dream of a better life for all, work.
Realizing the profound difference and dignity that successful micro enterprises can bring to local communities, Anthea has demonstrated creativity and ground breaking futuristic concepts, (which she humbly refers to as "no brainers if you truly want to find a solution), by initiating products and experiences which connect people from all over the world with the women in communities across the land. Anthea Rossouw is the driving force and brainchild of Cook-up Kamammas (community matriarch) and Homestay with Kamamma, tourist accommodation and cuisine service. ALL of these products, selflessly developed, belong to the individuals whom she has assisted, thus facilitating opportunities for politically and economically disadvantaged women to grow from shack to shares in their own companies. This has resulted in hope; much needed economic revival and a better future for many women, men and children in South Africa. Her model for local development through tourism is a world-class alternative to lack luster development programmes which have been based on too much theory and no practical and measureable outcomes.
Says one of the many who have visited South Africa on Dreamcatcher programmes which include interactive visits to the many projects and communities: "Dreamcatcher! The time I spent with you was brief but brevity is no limitation to inspiration. You were my threshold to South Africa, introducing me to the land, the people, and the heart. I feel a reverence to you still and surely will always. There is a wisdom to you that gave me preparation for my work experience in Paarl, one that is so very genuine it is really indefinable. You, I think, embody the strength of compassion; the adjoining of pragmatism and optimism, and while contrasting, it is in these differences that truth is revealed. And through these rarities, you are entitled with commanding a presence that represents South Africa and all people in need, who wants to make a difference in their own lives, well. My experience is one I treasure. An experience that helps me understand my present, and now shapes my future. An experience that I am better because of you. Thank you for being a part of that."- Millicent Zimdars, San Diego, CA.
Anthea tutored at various institutions and is also is the author of various tourism training - and information publications. Dreamcatcher and Dreamcatcher communities, have inspired various award winning films and documentaries:
- A documentary of her remarkable work at local community level, called 'Brave New World', produced for eTV by Spliced Knees, was screened on national television on various occasions.
- The subsequent film "Changing Lanes with Dreamcatcher" a riveting, authentic and unique view on life in South Africa, has been widely acclaimed and was shown at major tourism marketing platforms in The Netherlands, United Kingdom and Canada.
- Breaking news at this time, is that a film made and directed with the assistance and co-ordination of Dreamcatcher in various communities in South Africa called "Motherland" is currently premiering in Los Angeles (March 2009) and winning award after award. It is a film about the visit of 6 volunteers from the United States, who had lost a child or sibling, seeking peace and solace in the handling of grief, finding solace and unity with the grieving mothers and children in unlikely places and with individuals in various communities in South Africa.
Anthea is inspired by Maya Angelou and has been guided by Maya's power through the pen, to bring relief and hope to the 'many caged birds to sing" in communities across Africa and in other parts of the world.
Pursuing her vision, and sharing her knowledge in rebuilding South Africa; Ms Rossouw encountered many barriers along the way. She was often confronted by and subsequently beating, enormous odds. As a well-known motivational speaker; The Dreamcatcher - inspires and captivates audiences, by sharing her passion and knowledge of South Africa and its people. Currently, as a volunteer for the West Sussex County Council, inspiring people from all walks of life at events across the County, to manage food waste, thus save money, recycle and do their bit for the environment. Rossouw reaches out to engage in characteristic humility, humor and eternal positivism.
The Dreamcatcher demonstrates how one committed person can make a significant difference to build peace and reconciliation between individuals, communities and between people in different countries.
Plans for the redistribution of wealth in South Africa,(and the world),are characterized by too much theoretical talk, and too few practical guidelines on how actually to get the job done. Most visitors to South Africa never have close encounters with the people, whom Anthea says: "are the custodians of their land". Visitors never revel in the immense diversity of the real land. Dreamcatcher - gives content to this phenomenon and realizes the African Renaissance tangibly, by showing visitors what it is really like, and how they can make a difference whilst on tour in the country.
"I tracked each step of the way of the political transformation, the negotiations and the dealings to liberate South Africa from its political shackles. I never saw an elephant or a rhino at the negotiation table - and this must surely have been one of the world's best examples of peaceful political transformation. It was the PEOPLE who did it !. . . why is it then that visitors to South Africa and the those who continue to dominate the tourism industry in South Africa, continue to punt those elephants and rhinos as if they are all there is in the country? Do they not understand the importance of including the people, the custodians (actually) of nature and, yes the animals too?
How long must the world be patient to meet the heart of South Africa and. at what price? I revere the poor and downtrodden, their never ending patience, their humility, vibrancy, humanity and creativity to step back from violence for the sake of all, in South Africa. This is a rare phenomenon, which must be appreciated!
The persistent view by the tourism industry regarding contact between visitors and the heart of the country, its people, as a second rate experience to the animal safaris or a castle or listed buildings, is a milestone around the neck of the tourism industry as a whole, and is surely to the disadvantage of the tourism experience and the deprivation of the world as a whole. This lack of contact with the outside world and the lack of access to the benefits of tourism, hangs upon our shoulders like a "Starless night". says The Dreamcatcher.
Dreamcatcher's - 'new way' - is heart-warming and instills hope. In sharing her 'walk to freedom' with the new tourism entrepreneurs, special emphasis is placed on the empowerment of women and the fact that the community must get under the load, pull together, insist on access to Tourism and knowledge - and then go to work!
Written by Helene Steyn - Historian and Journalist and Greta Wilson, PR & Media, Melkbosstrand, South Africa (email@example.com)