‘Every woman has worth’

IN commemoration of Women’s Day, which will be celebrated on August 9, Fever chatted to founder of the Open Door Crisis Centre Thora Mansfield.

Known to many as a phenomenal woman who has helped various women and children who have been abused in different ways, Mansfield is an inspiration to many local women.

Mansfield is originally from the Transvaal, having moved to KwaZulu-Natal early in her life.

Her childhood memories are filled with happiness and the people she has helped.

“I remember my earliest recollection and I think God planted this in my heart [the need to help people] when I was still just a child.

“I used to organise a fundraiser for the disabled people in Amanzimtoti City Hall.

“It seems as though my whole life has been dedicated to helping change people’s lives.”

Mansfield said she has been a socially concerned woman from the time she was young.

Her journey with Open Door Crisis Centre began in 1997 when the SAPS approached her to open a centre for abused women.

“The reason why the SAPS asked me to open the centre was because I was always socially concerned, I always had a passion for working with women in the rural areas and also being involved in politics by fighting a system I believed was one filled with injustice.

“My heart went out to women who did not have a voice and I really felt that, once the police approached me, that I could be their voice. That’s how the Open Door started.

“It’s been 21 years in service and we have helped over 400 000 people.

“We have received 21 awards and we recently won the Paul Harris award, which is the highest award that the rotary can offer.

“However, I could not have done this without the help of the women I work with.

“I feel that they are the true heroes and I am just an instrument,” she said.

She added that she is inspired by her faith and the fact that she hates injustice of any sort.

“Being able to work at the Open Door and help a lot of women and children inspires me.

“The good news is we have now gained accreditation to open a men’s centre.”

When asked what women empowerment mean to her, Mansfield said: “Women empowerment means that women are given the opportunity to become useful citizens; to know that, whether they are a director of a company or whether they are in a township, they have value.

“I believe that every woman is a woman of worth and I believe that we should encourage women to explore and to find their true self.

“The empowerment of women is to know that they do have a role to play,” she said.

Besides doing work at the Open Door, Mansfield also loves spending time in her garden.

“I love my garden I have transformed it into a park. I am also hoping to start art lessons and I recently joined the Lions.

“I also travel a lot as well, so my life is quiet busy,” Mansfield said.

In conclusion, Mansfield wanted to pass a message to other women.

“Fight for your rights, believe that you are women of worth and that you are worthy of good things. That is your heritage,” she said.