I’ve know Maria Andela since I can remember. She and my parents are friends through birding and volunteering as Honorary Rangers, and we often spent time in her house in Beaufort West as children, and playing in her garden. I remember I had believed for a long time that she was somehow related to us because she felt like family. Great was my shock when my parents corrected me one day! When I was still “in school” (I was homeschooled, so school wasn’t something to be “in”) she had never hesitated to lend a hand and a word of advice when I struggled with a particular math problem. Apart from math, her expansive knowledge of geology, her love of great English fiction, and her “other-ness” always made her a sort of idol in my eyes. She is an independent self-sustaining, well-read and well-travelled woman, and I realise more and more nowadays that she had provided me with a very different perception, having grown up in a small-town very set in its ways, on the typical formula of being a woman. She was the only Roman-Catholic person I knew growing up, the only unmarried woman, delightfully eccentric with her Dutch family background and her delicious home-made butter tart.

Shot for the projects WOMAN and Heart of Legends: Icons of Beaufort West.