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Home-Start South Africa

Chairperson, Home-Start South Africa
Greetings! Sauwbona! Dumela!

Sue Skidmore - Chairperson, Home-Start South AfricaAt the end of 2005 I retired from full-time work, giving me the opportunity to get involved in a worthwhile cause as a volunteer. Little did I realise that within a few short months I would find myself as the chairperson of the newly formed National Body of Home-Start in South Africa.

I came into the organisation in South Africa at a time when they wanted to expand nationally. At that time I felt that I didn’t have the necessary skills or abilities to chair a national organisation. However, as time has gone by I have realised that I don’t need ALL the skills – just some abilities in finding the right people for the right job – an ability I have developed elsewhere.

Home-Start in South Africa was started in 2001 with a local scheme. The role of the National Body will be to provide governance and guidance, in order that Home-Start can be represented in all areas of our beautiful but needy country.

I have discovered through meeting other Home-Start people from all around the world that starting something is very different from growing it. Many Home-Start “visionaries” have spoken of using friends and family member’s time, money and accommodation. I, along with a Board of Trustees, was being challenged to take Home-Start from its beginnings to something that could be replicated all over the country. Obviously family time, money and accommodation can’t stretch that far!!

One lesson learnt from previous work experience is about searching for the round pegs that will fit the round holes of any organisation. i.e. searching for the person who has the skills and abilities to fit a particular portfolio. Not just using the most willing person or the one that you can coerce the most easily!

Our business-people bring with them objectivity, an understanding of financial controls and how to run meetings that keep to the point! Our professional-people bring professional standards and the ability to articulate verbally and by the written word. Those with NGO experience bring the more soft and fuzzy (the caring) skills, as well as an experience of how to make the limited finances stretch as far as possible by using volunteers and donations. That isn’t to say that whether we are business, professional or NGO we don’t have some of the attributes of the other groups, just that we can learn how to appreciate the contribution that the other has to offer in the African spirit of UBUNTU. “I am who I am because of you”

Our committee is fairly small – about 8 people. We have in the wings a number of other “round pegs” that we can call upon to guide us – people from the law, social work, human resources, government departments, psychology and service clubs, people who can’t commit to meeting times but who are committed to the concept of Home-Start.
We are still within the first year of our inception as a National Body. As I look back I can see the rocky road that we have been travelling along. As I look forward I can also see some rocks along our path but also a beautiful African sunrise that heralds promise for families in our healing country.
Sue Skidmore. M.Th. M.Ed. Cert. Ed. R.N
Chairperson of the Board of Trustees
Home-Start South Africa

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