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Friday, 22 July 2011

The future is yours to shape

Honey-voiced and softly-spoken, Anette Grobler, Student Development Officer at CPUT, adventure sportswoman and the first person in the world to walk the entire length of the Northern Namib Desert coastline in Angola, speaks with an authority that is hard to ignore.“If I can teach students one thing, it’s this - nothing that happened in the past can influence one’s future, unless we give it the power to do so. “

The severely asthmatic Grobler recently made history yet again - becoming the first person ever to walk a distance of 570 kilometers through the Namib Desert, completely solo and unsupported. Renowned for its ship-wrecks, brown hyenas, jackals, side-winders and seals, the Skeleton Coast is also infamous for its harsh, unfriendly terrain and extreme climate. Grobler embarked on her record-breaking feat to raise funds for the National Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing College in Worcester. She dubbed her expedition "Silent Steps" in recognition of the challenges faced by the deaf and hard of hearing in their daily lives.


“I was born asthmatic and still have severe asthma to this day. I was told I’ll never be able to do any exercise as this exacerbates asthma. I was 8 years old when I decided it won’t influence the rest of my life. I’ll rather battle doing it than not doing exercise at all.”

It’s this hard-won resolve and sense of authenticity about Grobler that seems to speak to the students she guides and mentors. “My message to the students is really simple - I’m not the product of my past but the creator of my future. Once you realise this, and I’m always telling them this – YOU design your own future. I’ve seen students so vulnerable and hungry absorb this philosophy and go on to achieve incredible things.”

Responding to the recent student protests at CPUT, Grobler is philosophical. “Most of the students I deal with are wise young adults and again - one just has to re-affirm that one’s past is history, it’s nothing unless I give it power. The future is yours to shape.”


Grobler is tremendously grateful to Dean of Student Affairs Cora Motale and HOD of Student Affairs, Sibusiso Chalufu for their support. She’s also expressed thanks to CPUT’s Engineering Department, especially Tap van der Schyff for allowing staff member Mark Jenkins to build her rickshaw. Without the rickshaw, Grobler’s journey would have been next to impossible.

By Jan Weintrob.

If you would like to support the cause, SMS lines are still open. Please sms the letters "NID" to 31243. Each sms costs R10 and all proceeds go to the National Institute for the Deaf. The person who sends the most sms's will stand a chance to win a Dell Notebook to the value of R8000.


Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za