Anna – From the confines of a cocoon to a butterfly with Women’s Platform

Young and ambitious, Anna – who has lived most of her life in South Africa – has found a home at Scalabrini, and hopes that her time here is a key step to achieving her goals.  

 Early life in South Africa 

In the 1990’s, at the age of 6 or 7, Anna fled the war in Angola with her siblings. Arriving in Cape Town was new and exciting. Anna was a bright-eyed child filled with buoyancy – but it was not to last. “When you are young, things are exciting, but when you settle in that’s when reality kicks in.” 

 “Initially I was happy when we arrived, but due to things that happened I had to come face-to-face with reality.” Financially, life was difficult. Anna’s sister had to buy goods in South Africa and sell them back in Angola; her brothers worked as security guards. Emotionally, life took a dip too; “I was not really supported because my sister was never there. She had to be in and out. I was a full-time student and a full-time mother to her four children. I had to do everything by myself. Then when you go to school, you get called names because you are not seen as part of, you are not welcome here.” 

Something Anna did have in her younger years was education. “I am happy I came across a good principal. Due to me being very active at school, I was exempt from paying school fees.”  

 Documentation frustrations and finding home 

Anna’s frustration built up because of the Angolan Cessation Permit (a two-year temporary visa issued to Angolan refugees upon the cancellation of their status). Home Affairs was refusing to renew her permit, meaning that she could not work or study. “Then I decided to be proactive and come to Scalabrini to see where I can get involved.” Anna started in Personal Development with Women’s Platform and joined BASP to continue her studies. This was a big win, as she had previously been unable to continue her studies.  

 “When I walked into Scalabrini, I just got the feeling that this is home, this is where I’m meant to be. I just keep asking myself why I didn’t come earlier.” Anna reflects on the impact that Scalabrini has had, helping her to become a better person and leader, as well as helping with her documents. Her sister decided to return home to Angola as there were too many difficulties with her documents, but her brothers are still here.  

 Realising her dreams and giving other women the opportunity to do the same 

Anna hopes to continue empowering women through personal development. Her dreams extend as far as the big screen, where one day she hopes to see her films and animations. Scalabrini has put her in contact with a director who is now Anna’s mentor. “My hope for the future is to have my cartoons, my movies, finish my education and still continue empowering women through personal development.” 

 “For me having gone through personal development to now go on to leading PD has been amazing. To see the women come into my class with a lack of confidence, and that transformation after 8 sessions; I see them like beautiful butterflies. They start in the cocoon and by the time the class is done, they are able to leave the cocoon with beautiful flowers, ready to conquer the world. For me that has been the best experience ever.”