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Previously Featured

Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Gabriele Kritzinger

Gabriele Lightdancer


Inspirational Speaker, Author & Poet

I am an “ordinary girl” living an “extraordinary life”. Like so many other children all round the world my childhood was filled with poverty and violence and at the age of 16 I walked away from home in Germany. I carried harmful burdens into adulthood and in my mid 40’s I undertook extraordinary journeys to let go of my past, to rediscover the courageous woman and accept my responsibility to inspire and help others. I recorded my journeys in my two books titled I Am Gabriele Lightdancer, my autobiography, and Words of Light, poetic and photographic reflections of my experiences. I am currently working as a life coach and mentor from my home in Pretoria. I have four beautiful children and a supportive and loving husband.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey so far.

I am passionate about living and spreading the story of so many people round the world caught in circumstances that is usually hidden, ignored or plainly just swept beneath the carpet of forgotten memories.

But who am I? Gabriele? German, Hungarian, French, South African? If you were to ask me I would say: “I am an ordinary girl having travelled continents to find my way back home, to find my roots, and under the African sky I found my way back home.”


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Ina Paarman

Ina Paarman


Founder of Paarman Foods

From humble beginnings in a converted garage in Cape Town, Paarman Foods have grown to the well respected food company it it today. Our story reads like a fairytale in many ways. Inspired by her grandmother's cooking and obviously possessed of the same innate gift, Ina decided to study as a home economics teacher after leaving school. She then travelled extensively, soaking up everything she could about the cuisines of other cultures. This she combined with our uniquely South African style and, after a successful teaching and lecturing career, started Ina's Kitchen, a cookery school, in a converted garage at her home in Constantia.

Ina Paarman’s kitchen was founded in 1982. It is a wholly owned family business with Ina and her son Graham at the helm. The company started as a small cookery school in a garage in Constantia. Manufacturing was initially only a very small side-line, but became the main business after Graham graduated with a business degree. He took the helm, revamped the packaging, moved into factory premises and employed more staff. Ina continued doing the product development, recipe writing and communication with customers. Paarman Foods now have a highly mechanized manufacturing fascility and employ about 150 full time staff members, in addition to providing work for subcontractors, herb and vegetable growers, charity workshops, designers, printers etc


Woman of the Month - Sandra Prinsloo

RR Sandra_Prinsloo._Johan_Wilke

One of SA's best-known actresses and personalities.

After matriculating at Afrikaans Meisies Hoërskool in 1964, Sandra completed her BA Drama in 1967, as well as her Honors degree in 1968, both at the University of Pretoria in 1967. She joined PACT’s Afrikaans acting company during this same year, and remained there until the Market Theatre opened in Johannesburg seven years later. After performing in this theatre’s two opening productions, she started her freelance career. Theatre After seeing Sandra perform in "Koffer in die kas" at the Civic Theatre, Barry Ronge from the Sunday Times wrote: In Japan, when the power and value of artists to the cultural life of the country are deemed to be at their height, they are declared 'national treasures' - an honour for which Sandra Prinsloo is long overdue.

Her stage and film career spans a period of 40 years. During this time she has performed leading female roles in the plays of renowned international dramatists and of local South African playwrights, totalling over 100 different productions to date. She has also established a reputation as an outstanding actress in many countries overseas, including England, France, Germany and the United States.

De Kat magazine named Sandra as one of the 100 most influential people in South Africa.

Her leading roles in theatre include:
The Merchant of Venice, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Hamlet, A Winter's Tale as well Marat Sade, Hedda Gabler, Siener in die Suburbs, Christine, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Absurd Person Singular, Night and Day, Anastasia, The Seagull, Miss Julie, People are Living There and Amy's View, Collected Stories and she will soon be starring in Breath of Life (a West End production with Judy Dench and Maggie Smith).

Sandra has received the Kanna-award on the KKNK 2010, as well as the Fleur de Cap award for best actress, both for her performance in the one woman play Naaimasjien. Solidariteit has just honoured her for her contribution to the Afrikaner cultural heritage, and she received the Chancellors Medal from the University of Pretoria, in September 2011.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Tracey Derrick

tracey portrait


Tracey matriculated at Westerford High School in Cape Town in 1979, and graduated with a B.A. from UCT 1982, a Higher Diploma in Education (Hons) 1987 and in 1989 the School of Visual Arts in New York (Black & White printing) and completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Art at Michaelis (UCT), in 2009. A full-time portrait and documentary photographer since 1991, Tracey’s projects are primarily concerned with social and community issues. Some of the people that she has become involved with and photographed are the Zionist Christian church, the Namibian Himba, Sangomas in Khayelitsha, refugees from Africa in Cape Town, Cape Town sex workers, farm workers in the Swartland, and women prisoners in Malmesbury. She has continually taught and conducted photography workshops, sometimes teaching her subjects to take their own photographs and share their stories with the larger society.

She has also written numerous adult education books and photographed a book on alternative religions in South Africa for schools. She has participated extensively in exhibitions both locally and internationally. Her work has also been included in Blink, a book showcasing 100 contemporary photographers worldwide. Iziko South African National Gallery purchased a print for their permanent collection in 2005. In 2008 Tracey was diagnosed with breast cancer and has documented this experience, for the first time becoming the subject of her own work. The project is called ‘One in nine – my year as a statistic’. In her process, the photographic project developed around women and identity, healing and survival. It was shown at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town 2010, a documentary was made by Plexus films and Lisa Chait for SABC3 ‘I am Woman Leap of Faith’ 2012, and it was part of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, Think!Fest 2012. She has been nominated for the International Cancer Society ‘Heroes of Hope: Profiles of Courage’ 2012-2013.


Woman of the Month - Lisa Chait

Lisa Chait

Broadcast Journalist & TV Host 

A former radio talk show host, Lisa is the founder of the Life Stories Family Heritage Project and is the Host and Co–Producer of the SABC3 TV series I Am Woman Leap of Faith.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey so far.

I was born and brought up in Cape Town where I still live and am lucky enough to have great parents who are still together. There are four kids in our family, with two overseas and my sister Jodi and myself in Cape Town. I don’t have kids of my own (still hoping) but am an aunty to 7, all of whom are the 8th great wonders of the world. My dad is the funniest man I know and my mom has always been a great inspiration. She was the editor of the Cape Jewish Chronicle for 26 years and is now dealing with retirement - which can’t be easy. She modelled for me an interest in life, history and a good story and has always been my sounding board, greatest critic and supporter. Go mom! It is a real gift to have someone in your life whose judgement you deeply trust. As I get older I become more and more appreciative of how my parents held our Jewishness as a strong part of our lives. Friday night suppers together still happen and although we are not religious per se, it’s thanks to them I am still strongly culturally identified with a clear sense of my people’s story, who I am and where I come from. Its so interesting how this seems to become so much stronger with age. It gives me a feeling of great depth and place and makes me much more open to meeting others in their cultural spaces and learning about their experience, beliefs and, especially, ancestry.


Woman of the Month - Suzanne Ackerman-Berman


Transformation Director, Pick 'n Pay 

Educated in Cape Town, at UCT, Chicago, USA, lived and worked in Europe for 15 years running own restaurants and studying food and languages. Returned to SA in 1995, remarried a CT attorney/property developer, have 3 children and live in Sea Point, Cape Town. Recently awarded Fellowship of Aspen Business Institute, New York. Director of Transformation for Pick n Pay Group, Board Director and Chairman of Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation and SBI ( Small Business Incubator), Trustee of Smile Foundation, Patron of Sunflower fund, Guardian of Red Cross Children's Hospital.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey so far.

I have a deep passion for and love of food and innovation. After studying languages and politics at UCT in 80's, I went on to work in Europe, and then opened my own restaurants, bars and nightclub in a French Ski Resort for 10 years. I returned to South Africa, a divorced mom with 2 girls and started in Pick n Pay as a Trainee manager. I worked my way through the ranks of the company in many different areas from Store Management, to Buying & Marketing until I found my niche in my current portfolio -Transformation. I started a Small Business Incubator, run the Group Foundations, and continually search for small dynamic entrepreneurs with great innovative products or services who need a break!


Woman of the Month - Alison Botha

Alison Botha

Alison Botha - Inspirational Speaker, Author and Producer 

Alison is best known for the ordeal she suffered in December 1994, when an extraordinary event took place in Alison’s ordinary life. She was abducted by two men and taken to the outskirts of the coastal city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, where they raped and brutally assaulted her. She was stabbed in the abdomen more than 30 times and her throat was slit from side to side. The men left her for dead in the bushes, the full moon looking down on her barely recognisable body. Somehow she was able to use the light of the moon to find her way back to the road where she collapsed. A car finally stopped and found the near-dead Alison. Despite the odds, she lived.

Since the ordeal, Alison has received numerous awards, including the Rotarian Paul Harris Award for Courage Beyond the Norm. She was named Femina magazine’s first “Woman of Courage” in 1995 and was honoured as her hometown of Port Elizabeth’s Citizen of the Year in 1995 for her contributions to the community. Her career changed as she began sharing her story, and she became one of South Africa’s most sought-after public speakers. She has travelled all over the country and to over 30 others internationally, sharing with her audiences the horror of being physically attacked, then offering insight into her own recovery and the power of inner strength. In 1998, ‘I Have Life’, Alison’s first-person account of her ordeal and recovery, was published by Penguin Books, South Africa, and has been a best-seller ever since throughout the country. ‘I Have Life’ has been translated into seven languages in Europe.  

Physicians call her survival a medical miracle, but perhaps the true miracle has been how she has chosen to deal with the experience. Rather than becoming bitter, she uses her experience as an example of the power of the human spirit. For Alison, it has become her personal mission to make a difference in other people’s lives. She believes that although we don’t always get to control what happens in our lives, we always get to control what we do about it. People around the world are inspired after hearing Alison’s message, inspired to believe in the strength within each one of us to overcome the obstacles on our own life’s journeys.


Woman of the Month - Retha van Staden


Retha van Staden - Solutionetics

Please tell us a little more about your business.

I am passionate about helping other entrepreneurial-minded business people make sense of the digital and small business world and I love showing them how to market themselves effectively online and via face-to-face networking.

This is done in private consultation sessions or through my workshops, and it doesn’t matter if you have a full online presence or none at all – you will walk away with a much improved understanding, marketing ideas, strategic (but practical) solutions and action plans to effectively market your business and achieve your objectives.

I make use of my vast local network to refer you to the right people if you should need skills or options that I don’t specialise in, or if I think you will benefit from talking to someone in my network.


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