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Interview: Academy for Canoe Development

Latest developments of the Academy since the interview:

The Academy might be in danger in that the Department of Infrastructure wants to develop at Roodeplaat Dam and asked the Academy to leave. Roodeplaat Dam may be the only perfect setting to train for the Academy. There are rumours that some of the Department employees will change their mind and not take the dreams away of these kids. Let’s hope they do.


Fouché van Tonder is one of the directors at the Academy for Canoe Development at Roodeplaat Dam in Pretoria. He is a former Springbok rower, but gave it up last year to focus more on coaching children from local townships. Sulet Linde talked to him to find out more.



Van Tonder has been rowing for 10 years and has represented South Africa in various international championships and World Cups.


Tell me a little bit more about the Academy:

We teach children from nearby townships (plot 175 in Kameeldrift) how to row.  We have a Development Program and a High Performance program.


Academy for Canoe Development

Academy for Canoe Development

How many of you are involved?

We are three directors: my dad (Philip van Tonder) runs the Development Program , I run the High Perfomance program and we have a social worker who handles the welfare part of the business. We have a group of teachers and psychologists who helps with the children.


What exactly does the Development programme involve?

We get children from the townships and teach them how to row (for free). We have an After School program  (three days a week) where we give extra classes in school subjects and we also have a Food program  (three days a week) where we give them something to eat.


What do you do exactly?

I am the director of the High Performance program. I coach the children and top athletes in sprint kayaking.


What is sprint kayaking?

It’s when you sprint down in a straight lane within 200 m, 500 m or 1000 m distance in a single, double or a four-man kayak (K4).


Are there mostly just boys at the Academy?

No, we teach rowing to both boys and girls. The girls are actually better rowers.


At which age do you start teaching them?

We have an U/8 team, so we start at 7 years old.


How many children are involved?

We have about 60 children that are part of the Development Program  and 20 in the High Performance program .


How successful is the Academy?

Very successful.  The kids are performing on a National level. One of them, Carlton Tshantsa was chosen to be a part of the U/18 South African team. There is a possibility that he could get chosen to go to the junior world cup.


What are your goals for the future?

We want to send the children and athletes from the High Performance Program  to the next Olympics (most of them were too young to go last year). Our juniors and U/23 team will be participating at the World Cup in Canada and the African Championship.

I am coaching my sister and our goal is to win a medal at this year’s U/23 World Cup.

The ultimate goal for the children in the Development Program is to get them into the High Performance Program. 


Interview: Mix and Match Studio

Christal van Tonder, owner of Mix and Match Studio and clothes designer about her business and her collaboration with Nea Foundation:

Christal van Tonder on the right

When did you start with Mix and Match Studio?

It opened in 2010.

Dress in the shop

Apart from your clothing, how many other designers’ clothes are for sale in your shop?

There are 5 other designers whose clothes are in my shop. We are slowly busy to expand the shop and I’m planning to use the space just for events such as photography exhibitions and to sell the interior decorating products by the women I have trained.


When did you start training the women?

I started to train the women from 2009, but I started working with Nea Foundation for the past year.


Who or what is the Nea Foundation?

They are a NPO (Non-Profit Organisation) who works with children from townships.  They identified a need for the mothers to learn skills like sewing. I trained the women and I’m helping them to find jobs. They have a series of interior decorating products I market and sell in my shop.


Did you have a good financial year?

I’ve decided to focus more on the training part. I’ll still open my shop once a month, because it has become too expensive to try keeping it open every week.


What are your plans for the future?

I want to make changes in my business and to supply the products to other shops in the future. I would really like the women I’ve trained to earn a more stable income out of their sewing.

cushions Products


Interviews: The Handbag Project by Crimon Monash

For the following few posts I’ll post some interviews I did while I was a freelancer for Spotlight newspaper:

Teddie Hand bag project poster

Teddie Hand bag project poster

The CRIMON Monash society is hosting a Handbag and teddy bear drive in collaboration with the Jes Foord Foundation’s Handbag project.  They call on all to collect new or used handbags and fill it with necessary items that rape survivors crave for immediately after being attacked.

 Sulet Linde conducted an interview with the Vice President of CRIMON: Nandhi van Tonder. 


1. Who or what is CRIMON MONASH?

Crimon Monash logo

Crimon Monash logo

CRIMON is the Criminology Society of MONASH University South Africa (a branch of MONASH Australia). 

We are open for all students at the University, and we focus on all things criminology related. We take the students to morgues, do self-defence courses, learn about DNA testing, and we work with pre-schools during our “stranger danger week”, teaching the youngsters about the dangers of trusting strangers and who to talk to if somebody makes them feel uncomfortable. We also have an ongoing project to collect handbags and teddies for rape crisis centres and are going to start working with Anti Drug Alliance South Africa in order to help students with drug-related issues. 


2.  Why did you decide to start the project?

We decided to do the handbag project because we wanted to partner with the Jes Foord Foundation and help those who are rape survivors. We decided to donate handbags filled with toiletries and teddies, not only to the JF Foundation, but also to other rape crisis centres. The handbag thing relates to the way rape survivors feel after the attack. Many women (and men) feel dirty and the first thing they want to do is wash all the ‘ugliness’ away. Therefore, the handbags will be filled with toiletries and things which will help make every survivor feel clean and fresh. 


 3. What is the duration of the project?

The project is an ongoing thing for this whole year, and we have two major collection dates in the final weeks of semester 1 and 2. Alternatively, donations could be brought to our office in the Allan Finkel Vonlunteer Space at MONASH.


 4. Are you going to donate the teddies and handbags to a certain support group of rape?

The donations will go to the Jes Foord Foundation and also to other rape crisis centres which do not get as much publicity as the JFF.


 5. What kind of items should people put into the handbags? Toiletries?

The best thing to put in a handbag will be a nice soap, cream, shampoo, or anything which will help make the rape survivor getting that bag feel clean, fresh and beautiful. Unfortunately, for practical reasons, clothing cannot be donated. 


 If you wish to contact Monash you can email them at They are also on Facebook: Crimon Monash.

The Monash university is situated in Ruimsig North-West.



 The Jes Foord foundation opened its doors in 2009 following the brutal gang rape of Jes Foord by four men while her father was forced to look on. Their main aim is to restore lives after rape and educate people about the realities of sexual assault in South Africa.


Jes Foord started the handbag Project, because she realised that the handbags (filled with goodies) help rape victims feel special and restore their dignity. “It’s the first step towards claiming her body and her life back.”

The majority of rape victims come from underprivileged areas. They often don’t have access to running water and bathing supplies.

The foundation’s goal for 2013 is to collect 10 000 handbags in total. They have collected 930 bags so far.

If you want to become involved or donate to the foundation you can contact them by sending an email:



Those dreaded questions

I have as of yet another interview tomorrow and I’m so not looking forward to it. I know they are going to ask me those dreaded questions… I always go blank, because I know I can’t tell them what’s on my mind. So I quickly have to make something up.

Why did you apply for this job?

What I’m thinking: Uhm… because it is something I’ve studied, the money is looking pretty good and I don’t need prior experience. (Duh!) But I can’t tell them that, now can I?

What I say: I think this will be a great opportunity where I can develop my skills as an editor.


Why do you think your the perfect man for the job?

What I’m thinking: Uh.. I don’t!

What I say: I’m young, I’m fresh out of university, I’m hard working, I’m loyal. (What more do you want?! I don’t say that )


Why did you decide to study journalism or editing/why did you decide to become a journalist or editor:

What I’m thinking: Uh.. I want to be a writer, but my mom says I need a job. This is the closest I can get, don’t you think?

Or: Ek kan nie ’n dokter word nie, want ek sal uitpass van die bloed, ek is nie ’n onderwyser nie want ek sal die kinders vermoor en ek sal sielsongelukkig wees as ek ’n boekhouer sou word.

What I say: I love languages. I love writing. I love reading. 

Such clichés. Sometimes I want to do an experiment and answer with what I’m thinking and see what happens. Do interviewers appreciate honesty or little white lies? Here’s another one:


Where do you see yourself over 10 years?

What I’m thinking: I don’t even know where I’m going to be tomorrow and now you want me to tell my future? Actually I don’t want to live that long, I definitely don’t want to get married, I don’t want kids (I definitely can’t tell them that!)

What I say: I want to be in a permanent job position, earning good money maybe paying off a house… (Apparently according to my friends this is what interviewers want to hear).


Why did you choose our company?

What I’m thinking: Uh… Because you’ve advertised for a junior copy editor (Duh!)

 What I say: It’s in Centurion, Pretoria (not far from where I’m staying).

I’m so not looking forward to tomorrow. I’m also writing a mini test so I better refresh my memory with everything I’ve learnt in my courses at Uni. Wish me luck!



Interview tomorrow

It was not meant to be

they say.


I wasn’t ready.

I know.


Will I ever be ready?

I ask.

5th March 2013.


I have yet another interview tomorrow. But after talking to my parents I feel reluctant to go, because it is only for a volunteer position. (I was stupid enough to believe that volunteer still means part time and not for free). But maybe they’ll give me some compensation. We’ll see. 


I’m just so tired of feeling under-valued. Everyone keeps telling me that the right job will come at the right time. That’s like saying time will heal all wounds. The thing is it takes time. And I feel like I’m running out of time. Fuck time! I want it now!