Have you ever heard of a place called Zoar? If you have I am impressed. It is a small community of about 6000 people situated in the mountains past Oudshoorn, between Calitzdorp and Ladysmith, in the Western Cape. In the heart of that community lives a small family of authentic, exemplary leaders, adding real value – real life heroes in my eyes.
I would like to introduce you to Andrew Davids (Father and Teacher by profession), Gail (Mother and also Teacher by profession), their daughters Nasia (11) and Zoe (8). The community may be stagnant as far as population expansion and economic activity is concerned. But, if one does not look carefully it would be easy to miss the real growth and movement caused by this family, which will affect generations to come.
They have a small home, but Nasia and Zoe decided to sacrifice their privacy by opening the world of books to children of that community. So, they made up pamphlets that invited children from the community over and then read to them. The enthusiasm for this activity grew, Dad and Mom started supporting them, and then they dedicated a small room as a library. Word got out and the library of books grew by way of donations. Today they have a book case full of books from floor to roof.
There are now approximately fifty children visiting their home every week, and many of the children read by themselves. Imagine, fifty children who struggled to read and had minimal exposure to books now start developing a passion for books and reading. What impact will this have on their personal lives and generations to follow? The real short and long term impact is incalculable.
My wife read about this example of leadership without title, by two young girls and started donating books. Sometime later she received a picture of a bunch of beautiful children smiling in front of a large book case full of books. She forwarded this picture to some friends and colleagues and someone commented that she could see in her mind’s eye a library full of books for those children. My wife’s comment to me was: “I can see a community centre that includes a library and that teaches life and technical skills to people from that community”.
We can see the golden thread of much needed “seamless” leadership in this example – leading with a balanced big picture in mind, while, in an inclusive manner, confidently confronting barriers and boundaries to full potential of individuals and communities. It started with two girls, then a Father and Mother who adopted a seamless leader attitude, which triggered a decision to create movement and confronting of barriers towards the full potential of children, a community and even a country. This rubbed off on many others. As a result children and generations after them will be positively affected. This movement caught my wife’s attention, because that’s what movement does. She then demonstrated not only a seamless leader attitude but a seamless vision.
We decided to visit Zoar and had the most special and memorable experience as they treated us to a light lunch and delicious carrot cake. In her capacity as Engineer my wife then sat down with Andrew and Gail and discussed options of how a separate building could be erected on their premises, what it could look like inside, and much more.
Now, bear in mind that there are no funds or resources for this activity, but I watched them plan and discuss as if there was. It touched me, their faith and belief that something will somehow happen…and I trust it will.
The children of that community will have better access to acquiring knowledge and understanding, so that they can see further, a bigger picture. Because of the remarkable opportunity that has crossed their path they will eventually be more empowered to make informed decisions, resulting in more effective movement in their lives and an increase in their abilities to remove barriers to their full potential.
Andrew, Gail, Nasia and Zoe would not want me to write this article, but I am, because their agenda and motives are pure; because they want to make a real difference; and because the children within that community and that community itself need this momentum to continue.
More on what real leadership is. Andrew is a teacher at the local school where there are approximately 250 children. He is not an ordinary teacher but in fact a seamless leader that has visited the home of every child he teaches and therefore understands their personal circumstances. When yearly reports on the children’s progress need to be written they call on him as he knows them individually.
When we left they thanked us warmly for our interest and visit. We tried to thank them from our side but perhaps words could not describe that we were the true beneficiaries for having met them. They are now fellow South African friends who are examples of the attitude we need in order to successfully move our country forward into the future.
On 11 May 2011 we launched our National Values Campaign, which in essence was the start of a national conversation on how to entrench a value driven leadership culture in South Africa. Between 11 May and 2 August 2011, 8582 South Africans participated in our online National Values survey across all nine provinces. The chosen values included: accountability, employment opportunities, dependable public service, honesty, poverty reduction, governmental effectiveness, law enforcement, educational opportunities, concern for future generations and effective healthcare.
Looking at these values and the values enshrined in our constitution we are proud of the David’s who strive to exemplify these values. They are acting beyond their expected responsibilities, which, again is a sign of seamless leadership.
I trust that their example will inspire others to do the same, or at least to assist the David’s of this world with resources to stay the course.
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