Theresa van der Merwe – South Africa

Theresa van der Merwe – South Africa

Date: June 26, 2012
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Councillor Theresa van der Merwe, a first time councillor in the City of Joburg, says that having a safe home environment with a supportive husband and children is at the root of her success, because home is where one seeks refuge.

“My husband is also proud of what I am doing and so are my children and they all share and encourage me in all events. I think without them all it would have been much harder to cope with and to see the importance of what I do. The support structure that they are means a great deal to me. I would not want to come home from work and find a stressful and tense environment, I need to relax and that is what my husband ensures.”

She regrets that being a councillor has resulted in her losing time with her family: “I have lost a percentage of quality time with my family, but I try to make up for that on the days that I am not doing council duties. I try and create a balance.”

She does so by ensuring that she sets aside some family time and some “me” time, because she feels that it is important for women to do some introspection and to see the broader picture and the direction in which they are going. She makes sure that exercise is part of her weekly regime and manages to swim and do yoga once a week and she clears her diary on Saturday’s for two hours of relaxation and spiritual growth.

Despite the loss of her time she believes that she has gained a lot as well: “I have actually gained insight into the lives of the people in the community. I now know how people live and the conditions that they live in and this has strengthened my character….these in turn give you a reason to wake the next day and want to make a difference and keep you determined and motivated to go on.”


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