From regaining the ability to walk after an accident left her in a wheelchair to training subsistence farmers in agriculture, Gabby Malope has a lot of life and business experience under her belt.
When she spoke with SLA contributor Makalela, Gabby spared no details on how she found her way to becoming a facilitator, her foray into counselling and how she believes she’s walking the footsteps of her role model.
Tell us about yourself.
I am very bubbly by nature, I love traveling a lot and meeting new people. As a child, I never got opportunities to express myself so growing up, I couldn’t wait to experience life’s challenges and battles.
I was always protected by my twin brother. His passing away left me broken and very sensitive. In 2007, we were both involved in a car accident that took his life and left me disabled. My life took a downturn due to the accident. I was declared unfit to work or function in any corporate environment.
People always told me I should stay in faith and that I will be all right. I never took them serious until in 2010 when a huge miracle happened. One night, I was sleeping and woke up to go to the bathroom. When I stepped out of bed, I fell to the ground. I was so happy, I screamed with joy because I could walk again.
I shouted so loud, neighbours came running in thinking something terrible happened. That was the day I found my favour with God. Since then, I live my life like tomorrow will never come, each day is a gift for me.
How did you get into being a facilitator and what has been your experience running a business?
In 2006, I was working for an NGO called Siyaphila Youth Support Services. It was led by young people under the leadership of Mrs. Nondumiso Phaahla. The main focus was dealing with HIV and poverty alleviation projects. My strength was with peer education, I just loved talking to my peers because I knew the peer pressure we were facing at that time.
Even after the accident, I still went to work while on a wheelchair. That was until 2012 when I was invited to come do some motivational speaking in one of the City of Tshwane Events. Someone after speaking asked me if I had ever thought of being a facilitator because he saw that in me.
One day, I decided to register a company that will help me be eligible to offer my facilitation skills. Then I realized that I needed to get trained to be a better facilitator so I shopped around for companies that offer that.
I found one, then I enrolled. Shortly after finishing the training, a lady called me to ask if I could speak isiZulu. She was looking for people who can train 500 people in KwaZuluNatal in isiZulu languages.
The phone call changed my life for good. Ever since, I have been a training specialist in farming while managing the farm I produce crops from.
As for my experience, I had to get equipped to be able to deliver quality work. So I took agriculture courses to be prepared for any challenges. I currently run a training academy of agriculture in Vastfontein in pyramid Hammanskraal.
I always have to be on top of the production because if you take your eyes off, you lose a lot. The farm has to produce more and more every year and the training centre has to grow every year. So far, the journey has been quite exciting.
Why did you decide to go into counselling ?
It was after the ordeals that I went through. When people hear my testimony, they often ask me how I managed to pull through. Mostly, these people were ladies who were troubled by their daughters who were in my age group.
They needed answers and I would always counsel them before going to my peers. That grew even more when I joined the Hatfield Christian church to study at the Life Training School (LTS). A few of the courses that I did helped me to grow in the field of couselling. This was combined with the training I got from the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) and the Department of Health.
How do you determine which products to grow on your farm?
The market and consumer always guides us on what to produce more than anything. We produce cash crops because as a farm, we must produce what will be able to carry daily running costs of the farm. The farm workers also need to be able to earn a living.
We produce big crops such as green peppers, cabbages, onions, chillies, beetroot and potatoes, which takes more time that spinach.
The response to market makes it easy for us to farm a lot of produce. Other crops are seasonal and that makes it hard to produce them every season.
We also donate some of our products to the care homes and orphanages. That’s more like our corporate social responsibility within our area.
What is your greatest strength?
I have a toolbox of my life for every challenge. I have a tool that fixes any specific challenge.
Also, I grow from the challenges that I come across so I never run. When the beast is in my yard, I stand and carry my cross.
Who would you say is your role model?
My uncle Mula Peter Malope. He worked for few years then, he took his savings and bought a combie. Ever since, he has been running his business. He has even opened a shop. He never worked but made his dreams come true. To this day, he is still running the taxi business.
Most of us in the family no longer have mothers and fathers. Our parents were never there so he had to care for our livelihood. My uncle stood by his words when he said we will never be orphans. To this day, he still manages the family and ensures that every year we all meet for a family gathering.
I love him very much. He is so humble and kind and he is always encouraging us to advance. When he calls me, I know I will laugh a lot because he calls me ‘tshwena” which means “monkey” in Sepulana.
Also, my uncle always wants to help people and give them a job so they can have something to eat. I am very proud of him. I feel like I’m walking in his footsteps. There are times when I wish I could just tell him how much of an impact he has made in my life. He is he father I have never known.
If you could be any age for a day which age will you choose and why?
Definitely 25, just for the body shape I had.
I used to look fabulous, now I am a bit grown up even my body says so too.
Gabby can be reached via her mobile phone (076 722 4194) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)