Cheryl Hlabane started her career in Human Resources and Recruitment. She has completed qualifications in Human Resources Management (UNISA), Labour Laws (UCT), Labour Relations (UNISA) and Mini MBA. She has always been passionate about building human capital and making a difference where skills and development is a need. She is a motivational speaker who has also facilitated many workshops in and around South Africa talking about issues that affect women. She also has a program that focuses on finding learnerships and employment for disabled individuals. Her passion for her work was ignited at an early age while helping her mum with her NGO which catered for Orphans and elderly people. Cheryl Hlabane also sits on the Board of Semukho Empowerment (Chairperson) and Khula Home Based Care (Member). She managed an award-winning HR Consulting Company for over 10 years and was nominated for Top 100 Entrepreneurs to look out for in South Africa and was amongst the top 10 in 2008. She is currently completing her BAppSocScie with the South African College of Applied Psychology.
Cheryl currently manages Frida Hartley Shelter, which is a safe Haven for vulnerable and homeless women and children. She’s a wife, mom of two and a plus size model! I caught up with her for brunch in Parkhusrt last week to chat about her family, career and everything in between.
What does an average day at work look like for you?
A typical day would be arriving and being welcomed by my gorgeous little pumpkins who have mastered how I ring our old fashion door bell. They come running to the front of the door dancing and lining up for daily hugs and kisses. This is a tradition I value the most. Frida Hartley Shelter is a faith based organisation so each morning, I and the house mothers gather and start our day with a prayer. We then proceed to having our daily meetings where we discuss operational issues and other activities. Other daily activities include counseling, training, follow ups, weekly meetings, liaising with donors and sponsors, conducting assessments for new intakes, spending a few minutes with the crèche teacher and the children.
Have you always wanted to work with women and children?
As far as I can remember, that’s always been my passion. I am all for women empowerment and building human capital. I come from a family of philanthropist, my mum owns a shelter for orphans and elderly women and I would assist her with facilitating events and liaising with donors and sponsors. When I was 18 years old I remember having this hunger and passion to have a shelter for street kids, I would make sandwiches for them in Kempton Park and I wanted to take all of them home. I then put a tall building on my Vision Board and I said one day I will own a building and help homeless children and 16 years later I am living my dream and making a difference in the lives of women and children in South Africa.
How do you keep the ladies at Frida Hartley Shelter motivated?
I encourage every woman to have a vision board, in that way they can get to see their dream as they work towards them. I have brought in many motivational speakers, who have gone through similar if not the same situations as the women so they can be inspired and understand that, they are not alone in this journey of healing and self discovery.
Do you think Government is doing enough to protect women and children against abuse? What can they do differently?
I feel the government can do better, the literature is there but the implementation is not. It can’t take a horrific event in order for people to react to abuse, this referring to my friend and the friend of Frida Hartley Shelter, Karabo Mokoena’s death. The government needs to devise ways to assist organization like ours so we can help many women and children in similar situations. The laws or rather the justice system has failed many families at grass root level. This matter needs to taken to task each day not only on women’s month or 16 days of activism.
Which woman do you look up to and why?
The women I work with have strength beyond what I have imagined. The journeys they have gone through surpass their pain however each day they wake up with hope and the willingness to start again. Women both young and old who have overcome adversity but understand that their past does not define them and that despite their pain their stories can always be testimonies for others.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by life in general and my beautiful country South Africa, our diversity and rich culture inspire my existence. I have learned to embrace me and understand that my difference is unique not unusual. Each day brings new possibilities and I love seeing other people blossom from being a cocoon to being a beautiful butterfly. My family inspires me to DO better, my friends inspire me to BE better and my work inspires me to become a better version of me each day.
What constitutes success in your mind?
Success is achieving intellectual capital, I am a strong believer of Education is the key to unlock your mind. One of my favorite quotes is, Albert Einstein which says: Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
What are your outside interests and hobbies?
I am a socialite, I love being with people who make me laugh, I am a huge fan of comedy and watching crime and investigation channel.
What is your super power?
God, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
What is your greatest achievement thus far?
Cliché, but being a mum changed my perspective on life in general. I somehow had this new view or perception on life and my life has been amazing ever since. I can’t over look other achievements that have been beyond my wildness imagination such as owning an award winning HR and recruitment firm, being nominated as one of the top 100 Entrepreneurs to look out for in South Africa, Being an International Plus Size Model, being a Key note public speaker and having a platform to change the lives of vulnerable women and children in South Africa.