Monique Strydom tells her story

Monique Strydom spent the morning with women at the Pietersburg Club during a DDKK morning tea.

POLOKWANE – Monique shared her story of being held captive in a foreign country for 127 days.

Strydom and her husband, Callie, were held captive in dire circumstances on the island Jolo in the Phillipines after being abducted by Abu Sayyaf terrorists in 2000. They were part of a group of 21 hostages.

After returning Monique, who had a public relations and marketing company, sold her business and formed a charity trust and in 2002, Matla A Bana, a non-profit-organisation assisting abused children, was founded.

Fatima Cachalia, Orline Mogale and Parvin Shaker await the motivational talk by Monique Strydom.

She has since her ordeal become an inspirational speaker and was awarded and nominated for various awards since, both in South Africa and abroad.

She also wrote books such as Vrygekoop and A Lesson in Survival after her ordeal.

Monique said she and her husband were having dinner one Sunday when they were abducted by the armed terrorists and could take nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

They barely had food and mostly lived on rice. Only later in their captivity were they allowed certain items and she received an old Reader’s Digest book – with articles in it on what to do if you are held hostage, written by survivors of the Vietnam war.

At the event, she spoke about fear and taking control, fear which paralises one and gives one tunnel vision and combatting it by prayer, focusing on survival, looking at the situation again and making calculated, objective decisions.

Some of the guests at DDKK’s Monique Strydom morning. Lynette Scholtz, Jeanette Burger and Annette van der Vyver are in front with Marinda Kruger, Adri Erasmus and Laetitia de Haas at the back.

She also talked about setting small, achievable targets and to enjoy the small victories, finding the humour in difficult situations and a positive mental attitude.

Among the topics of discussion was being in an abusive relationship and Monique said she could understand why women would stay with an abusive husband, as they take things away from the women, such as economic freedom and one’s life.

Monique Strydom signs a book for Drienie van Wyk, one of the guests.

She said something she realised during her time in captivity was the only thing captors cannot take away, is a positive attitude, which determines how you are going to respond. She said it was not always easy, but she made a deliberate decision to stay positive, to shift her focus.

She advised women in difficult situations to start setting up a network, ensure they have friends and be there for their friends. “By focusing on others, one forgets about your own problems. Find somebody to help,” she explained.

Monique added, coming out of captivity she was convinced she had to help others which is something she has done since with the organisation she founded helping around 30 000 children per annum.

Monique Strydom signs a book for Pam Smith.

“Each woman must know we are here with a purpose. Each has a calling. Don’t let your life be stolen by things happening to you, remember, one person can make a difference.”

She said her organisation is busy with engagements and will soon start working within the province in conjunction with the Child Protection Unit of the Police in Modimolle, starting to establish a child-friendly facility for abused children.

nelie@nmgroup.co.za

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Nelie Erasmus
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