Writers 2000 meeting: Rand Aid gets under author’s skin

On Saturday 24th February, Pamela Heller-Stern will attend the Writers 2000 meeting at Rand Aid’s Inyoni Village Clubhouse where she will introduce and discuss two of her novels, ‘The Pink Slippers’ and ‘Who’s Knocking on my Door?’ as well as her writing career.

An ex-Cape Town resident who is now a Gautenger, Pamela has always been involved in fine art, writing and research. She lectured in English Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand at the tender age of 22 and completed her Doctorate there at the age of 25.

‘The Pink Slippers’ explores the life of Sister Beatrice, a St Augustinian nun and nursing sister in the context of the Cinderella myth.

‘Who’s Knocking on my Door: Could it be Death?’ opens with the dramatic story of a young South African soldier who fought in World War II and was shipped to Italy as prisoner-of-war.

Since her retirement 10 years ago, Pamela writes full-time. Her newly completed novel ‘Have a Heart’ will be published in the UK in June. She is also in the process of editing an historical novel on the Randlord era of Johannesburg to be published locally.

Pamela’s books will be on sale after the talk and she will be donating 10% of the sales to Writers 2000 for the purchase of books for Rand Aid’s Wedge Gardens Rehabilitation Centre in Lyndhurst.

Pamela first came into contact with Rand Aid last year when she was part of the Gardens of the Golden City organising team. Gardens at Inyoni Creek retirement village were among those that were opened to the public. The initiative resulted in a donation of about R80 000 to Thembalami, which is one of Rand Aid’s care centres. Pamela was interested to learn the extensiveness of Rand Aid operations and was taken on a tour of the various properties, including Wedge Gardens.

Founded in 1903, Rand Aid manages four retirement villages, two frail care centres, a treatment centre for people with substance abuse problems and a home for the deaf. Rand Aid has a strong welfare focus and provides subsidised accommodation, care or treatment to over 500 people on a daily basis at its Thembalami Care Centre, Tarentaal Village and Wedge Gardens. Support services include Cookchill, the catering arm that prepares 35 500 meals a month; the stores; central workshops and the laundry that handles mountains of washing each day.

The Writers 2000 meeting is at 1:30 for 2pm. Pamela’s talk is titled ‘A writer’s journey – cannon balls and church, Cinderella and pumpkin carriages at midnight’. Visitors pay R20, which includes tea.

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Wedge Gardens plans walking labyrinth

The Wedge Garden treatment centre’s occupational therapy (OT) department is expanding the mindfulness sessions it holds every morning with the recovering addicts in its care, by implementing more active-meditative, mindfulness practices.

Active-meditation can be more grounded and comfortable for people who are new to mindfulness as the process can feel a lot less daunting and demanding. Currently, the OT department engages in predominately still, silent meditation with the patients, with yoga once a week. The hope is to enrich the mindfulness programme with a walking labyrinth to introduce the patients to the multiple ways in which a person can practice new skills.

Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. “Numerous research studies support the benefits of practicing mindfulness, with the most pertinent benefit being that of developing the ability to self-regulate: train attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control, thereby fostering general mental well-being,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the centre’s OT department.

“Researchers theorise that mindfulness lessens stress and enhances working memory. These cognitive gains, in turn, help people better control and regulate emotional responses to events.

“These skills are exceptionally useful for individuals facing today’s challenges, and within an addiction rehabilitation centre like Wedge Gardens, they can be the foundation to preventing relapse,” says Kendra.

The OT department was recently in touch with Pebbles for Africa and have been fortunate enough to receive a discounted rate on large rocks that will help form the border of the labyrinth.

“However, we need to secure the funds to complete the project and as such, I ask anyone interested in helping to please contact me. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated – and recognised – on completion of the project.

“Your help can change lives!”

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)

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