I was talking to Liezel, the principal at the Little Angels Community Center for underprivileged kids and youth in Hangberg, South Africa today. She was telling me her asthma is bad as it’s cold, they don’t have heating at home and at Little Angels it’s only the gas heaters as there is no electricity. Gas heaters aren’t great if you have asthma and there’s been rain and hail recently and the roof in one of the sheds (aka classrooms) started leaking again. So this week there was a man who stopped by and asked her how she could keep it up? He thought her problems were so immense he couldn’t understand she was still standing – she suffers from a thyroid problem and asthma, she sometimes don’t have enough money to put food on her own table and she gets troubled knowing she can’t give the kids at creche and the youth at the center all they need – food, clothes, doctors, lives free of abuse… Yet, she shows up every day. So what makes her keep going?
She told me today what she told him: “You know, I come here every day and I want to do so much I can’t do – I don’t have the money to do it. I see kids starving and freezing and I can’t do anything. But then the kids tell me I look beautiful. They tell me they love me. When I’m having a bad day, they will tell me I’m the most beautiful person. That’s it. And you know, I’ve done this for three years with no money. And we’ve gotten far. We can go much further.”
There is this idea in Hollywood that you have to look a certain way to be beautiful. You have to do certain things to be successful. Then you walk into Little Angels and because you help the kids simply by loving them, you are successful. Because they think you are beautiful, you feel beautiful.
Liezel swore when her sister died from cancer to do something, as her sister’s kids were on drugs. She then one day, when her kids found tik (crystal meth) in the playground, realized she wanted to keep kids off the streets and away from drugs and she was going to set up a center to do this. So she did. And suddenly she had more problems on her hands than she knew how to handle, as when you aim to create something, there’s suddenly obstacles. When you aren’t trying to feed hundreds of kids, there’s no problem. When you decide to feed them, you have to figure out a way to do so.
You can say Liezel has a lot of problems, both with Little Angels and her health. And you could, because of that, say that she’s unsuccessful and unhealthy, which to some means not beautiful. But no one would tell Liezel that. Liezel is one of the most successful, loved, adored and blessed people I know. Men want to steal her away from her husband, kids want to be her when they grow up. Liezel is a very, very beautiful and successful woman.
There are so many beautiful people in this world who have never had a chance to see that they are beautiful and successful, because no one has told them so. Yet, they have given to other people. They have smiled with happiness. They have laughed with joy. They have worked with kindness and dedication. They have listened to their hearts and followed their dreams. They are very beautiful. And I hope they one day get to see their own beauty mirrored in other people’s smiles and thankfulness. I hope they get to see their success mirrored in the happiness of the people they helped. I hope they one day get to see a real mirror.
Liezel in the middle with all the youth leaders, her husband and Jacqui the Vice Principal.