Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Torn, Trust, Hope

We are leaving Fernie soon.

Someone asked me this week ‘how do you feel?’  Well, it is a whirlpool of mixed emotions, something between can’t wait to see my family and friends in South Africa and don’t want to leave my new friends in Fernie behind. Torn. If you would have asked me this 10 months ago, the answer might surprise you. I didn’t want to come to Canada, I didn’t want to leave my homeland and move to a foreign one more permanently this time around. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the idea, I came kicking and screaming not wanting to leave our extended family behind, our friends, kids schools, my comfort zone and facing more uncertainty in the midst of Sarika’s newly discovered health issues! The goodbyes were heart wrenching.

We came to Fernie in August 2015; our main concern was Sarika’s health; she couldn’t climb even one step or walk 10meters!   We got an appointment at BC Children’s Hospital fairly quickly, but It was an 11-hour trip to Vancouver, one way, without stopping. We had to see the doctors every 2 weeks to start with, and our medical aid didn’t cover the costs. After 3 expensive, emotionally draining and roller coaster months we were registered on MSP (Medical Savings Plan). Our South African friends, Steven and Sonja Brink “happened” to live halfway to the hospital; they were our supportive & encouragement pit stop. We’ve been transferred to Alberta Children’s Hospital in December, which is only a 3 hours drive, and we’ve made new friends, Ben and Lisa Snyman who took us in and helped unconditionally. Looking back now, I wouldn’t want it any other way; in South Africa there is ONLY ONE Pediatric Rheumatologist in private practice. Here we’ve started of with 6 specialists seeing her on our first visit! We have met wonderful doctors, support staff and friends, and through her treatment plan and by the grace of God, Sarika has made big strides health wise. She is doing gymnastics and climbing as many steps as she pleases.

Sarika's progress

Sarika’s progress

Plugging into a church was easy, as we’ve been to Fernie, two ski seasons before and was familiar with Mountainside Community Church ( The first service we attended was God sent as Pastor Shawn’s message was from Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”. Why is this significant? The backstory is that a month before we departed for Canada, my girlfriends gave both Sarika and I earrings from Radiant with Hope jewelry (, which is based on this verse and a South African story of hope. It was a gift to remind us of the hope we have in Christ. Well, the doctors were concerned with Sarika’s condition and I was afraid. The first words in my journal during the service were..…Do not be afraid; you are worth than many sparrows. Have faith so strong, so secure in the Lord’s love that it frees you from fear. Our confidence is in the Lord. God knows you and loves you.   Fear -> Faith -> Courage. It was so encouraging! I thank the Lord for working through Pastor Shawn on that day, strengthening my faith and let me rest in the knowledge that He will see us through this.


Last girls night in South Africa, where my friends gave us the hope jewelry

We were definitely more intentional in getting connected in the community this time around, and being part of a church small group was the starting point. This is where we’ve found people doing real life together, true acceptance from day one, someone to rely on in times of need. Two particular occasions occurred when Justinus wasn’t at home; I had a kidney stone and had to leave my kids with Brittany for basically the entire day, Pastor Matthew drove me to the next town and back late at night, as a scan had to be done to confirm the diagnoses. In the same week, Sarika was admitted to hospital due to a reaction to her IVIG and Faye took care of Christopher and brought dinner. I find that people here, care about one another, although they might not even know you all that well. Through this experience, God reminded me that He would take care of me through a village of people, even if things felt out of control.

Sarika is immune suppressed and wasn’t attending school as this was a great concern for me and I wanted to protect her from every bug on planet earth. Somewhere in September, someone in our JDM support group posted “live your life not your disease” and this is when we’ve decided to enroll Sarika in school, as JDM will be part of the rest of her life. What a pleasant experience to approach Isabella Dicken Elementary School with our needs! The principal, Mrs Voysey, literally arranged for assistant funding within a day, this would enable someone in the class to help Sarika with challenges; Mrs Arlene is such a warm and caring person and the right fit for her. Sarika’s teacher, Ms Leah Spergel is the best teacher we could’ve asked for, the amount of effort and communication she puts into teaching the kindies are beyond expectation. Student Services’ Ms Donna Cameron & Ms Stacy Short helped with the plan to tackle Sarika’s challenges, and they also got us connected to people who helped us get funding from the Ministry of Children for additional costs. They’ve also lowered the bathroom sinks so she can reach it without a step. Besides all the help with Sarika, Christopher was transitioning into an English school, skipping few months of school into grade 2. Mrs Sutherland was the perfect teacher for him this year, making this integration as smooth as possible. There are so many great teachers and staff at this school, and the learning approach is fantastic! We feel very grateful being part of this school for the past school year.

Kindergarten class with Ms Spergel and Mrs D

Kindergarten class with Ms Spergel and Mrs D

Grade 2 class with Mrs Sutherland and Ms LP

Grade 2 class with Mrs Sutherland and Ms LP

In December we’ve joined Mountainside’s new years celebration and during the stay-over, Pastor Ryan asked me if I didn’t want to apply for the half-day assistant position at church. I had excuses, maybe covering the fact that I didn’t want to be out of my comfort zone, exposed and dealing with a lot of people, numbers were more my strength, I thought. We were starting to plan our trip to South Africa this year, but were a bit tight financially, so I had to look for a job. There weren’t many half-day positions available in Fernie, and Justinus said I should give it a try and I’m so glad I did! It was such a fulfilling role, doing things that matter in life. Seeing how a community can stand together, helping each other, supporting one another. I thank God that this job was part of my journey.

Then the day came when Justinus said, “I’ve been thinking”, I knew our lives were going to change again. By the way, this wasn’t long after I’ve started my new job, maybe a week! We were going move to Vernon in the summer. When I broke the news to friends familiar with Vernon, the usual first response was, “Oh it is really hot there”. This made me anxious, as Sarika’s disease can flare with sun exposure. Again, God gave me a verse, Is 58:11 The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. I know that we will be just fine in Vernon.

Vernon, Okanaga Lakeview

Vernon, Okanaga Lakeview

And just as I thought I had trust in God down, came the curve ball last night! Expectation and uncertainty culminated as we were waiting on final answers on funding options for the house we’ve wanted to buy and made an offer on. It exploded into; we actually don’t have a place to stay, two weeks before leaving Canada! I defaulted to worrying. Our recent experience of looking for decent rentals close to the new school was few and far between, or rented out within a day. I was disappointed. I went to the kitchen to make tea and picked up Sarika’s Sunday school lesson; my eye caught the Bible verse in Matthew 6.

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

While I was in the kitchen, Justinus contacted a landlord he met the week before, his rental was still on the market and we took it. God provided. The house is everything we were looking for, patch of grass for the kids, close to the school and enough space to make things work. God is faithful, and I need to trust Him more.

What have I learned over the past 10 months?

The beauty of your journey is the friends you get to meet. It is good to be connected, we need it, but have to reach out and take relationship risks, in spite of having to say goodbye again at some point. Take every day, every moment at a time, appreciate it, savor it and pay attention. Reach out, no (wo)man is an island, wherever in the world.

Also that life is unpredictable, we are not in control and that is OK. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Prov 16:9. God will guide and provide, I will rest in His fatherly love for me, and know that He has good plans for my future.

My heart is building up a storm of emotions, Fernie goodbyes are coming up, our visit to SA is around the corner, new adventures, changes and finding our way in Vernon when we get back. We’ll take one day at a time.

Home is where your heart is; my heart is all over the place right now!

What I am doing about the real cause of Xenophobia

The events of the last few weeks in our country have left many observers speechless, questioning why people will act in this manner.  Don’t get me wrong, acts like these are never justified, but a person with nothing to lose and nothing to live for are much more likely to act in such an irrational way and reflect their own frustration and problems onto others.  It’s a complicated subject, but fundamentally I think events like these are the symptoms of deeper problems in our society.

 So we can and we should condemn these types of criminal activities, but what we should also be doing is taking action to solve the real problems that causes them.  If every person who has spoken out privately or publicly about Xenophobia can take deliberate action to help make the country work better for all of us, we have a great chance of this never happening again.

This country is either going to work for all of us, or we go down a path were it fails for all of us. The current inequality is not sustainable.  We also can’t wait for others to solve these problems; it is all of our responsibility.  My personal view is that education is the key for us to change course.  So that is why I am very excited about WeThinkCode_.

Founders of WeThinkCode_

The four founders of WeThinkCode_ outside 42 in Paris

WeThinkCode_ is a social, non-profit enterprise that aims to deliver on Africa’s Human potential.  Our mission is to source and develop 100 000 programmers in Africa. We are searching for visionary individuals and companies that want to act with us to give more equal access to revolutionary world-class education to underprivileged youth.

If you want to start acting to solve some of the fundamental challenges in our country, get in touch and lets work together to create a working society for everybody.

Get in contact with WeThinkCode_: LinkedinFaceBookTwitter

Creating an oversupply of developers!

I can’t sleep tonight, I am way too excited! A friend and I have decided to try and see if we can find the answer to the following question by trying to make it happen:

What would South Africa look like if there were an oversupply of software developers?

In the 14 years I have been in the ITC sector the lack of resources has been a constant theme throughout.  Our education system seems unable to provide the volume of developers needed.  This also puts a serious damper on technology startups, as they need to compete with big budget corporates for the engineers to make their businesses work.

The amazing thing is that unemployment is one of our nations greatest challenges.  We have a growing youth population staring down a lifetime of minimum wage jobs if they are part of the lucky ones.

This cycle needs to be broken.  We strongly believe that the raw talent is here in our country to become a powerhouse in the new economy.  We believe that the great developers of the future are waiting to be given the opportunity. They can become the builders of the technology and business that will help change the future of this continent.

As impossible as it might sound, what if we could get to a place in the future where there are more quality talented developers in South Africa than what big corporates can employ? Which problems that are faced by everyday South Africans can we start to solve with breakthrough technology if there are developers eager to build the solution?

We want to try and get to a place in the future where there are an oversupply of developers. We are starting a foundation to try and help 100 000 under privileged youth trained as developers. The traditional education in South Africa can’t produce what we need. Lets take the future of the industry and the country into our own hands and make a difference.

Have a look at this program in Cape Town that we are planning to support:

Can YOU change someone’s life in 3 months?

Since my time in Chicago at Starter League, I have been playing around and building a few apps.  It is amazing that the more you learn the more you realize how much more there is to learn.  In a field evolving so quickly, it is clearly about continues learning more than knowledge.

I was really amazed about how much one can learn in only three months.  My thoughts inevitably turned to home, and if you can change somebodies life in as little as three months.  From my experience it would seem very possible!

I have always felt that we can only really change the direction of the country if we find a way to educate and empower people better.  As the father of our nation said:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela

 Simon Sinek’s has a great model “Start with Why”, have a look at his TED talk.

So in line with this model here is what I would like to do:

Why: We would like to change lives, contribute to building our nation, and inspire people to exceed their own expectations…

How:  Challenge the way society thinks about and transforming tertiary education by teaching people with the capacity to learn the skills that is in high demand in a compressed period of time that will empower them to transform their own lives and of the lives of those around them.

What: Teach people how to become web developers.

As the old proverb goes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.  Can you change someone’s life in three short months? I think so, therefore instead of giving money to charity I would like to do this and teach people to become web developers.

I am really excited about starting a school to achieve these objectives…. So for now we need to come up with a great name. Any ideas are welcome so please let me know if anybody have a light bulb moment.

US don’t want me to Pay Tax

President Obama has made immigration reform one of his top priorities.  I don’t know a lot about it, but I’m intrigued by stories about founders of tech businesses having run-ins with immigration.

Over the last few days Nate (also a student at Starter League) and I have been chatting about it.  So I want to paint a hypothetical situation that illustrates one of the many problems with US immigration policy.

Nate and I spoke a lot about Immigration while in Detroit. Here is the GM head quarters in Detroit.

Nate and I spoke a lot about Immigration while in Detroit. Here is the GM head quarters in Detroit.

Let’s say you are a foreign national that has some technical, UX or design skills.  You have read books like 4-Hour Workweek and The $100 Startup, and you finally decide to take the plunge and start your own business.  After struggling to get clients in the beginning, you start to earn a steady income after 6 months.

Your customers give you glowing recommendations and as your portfolio grows, you get even more business.  You do work for customers from all over the world.  Where you are doesn’t matter and your clients don’t care – because you deliver.

With added mobility you could spend much of your life in the mountains.

With added mobility you could spend much of your life in the mountains.

Always wanting to travel and see the world, you decide to utilize your newfound mobility and take an RV trip through the US.  But since you would also like to go skiing in Canada, you get a Canadian visa as well.

Just before you go, you decide to incorporate a company so business affairs can be completely separated from your personal affairs. Since most of your customers are based in the US, you decide to incorporate in Delaware.

So now you own a US-based company, which services customers from all over the world, including the US.  But since you are not a US citizen and don’t have a green card, you can’t pay personal tax in the US.  This means you have to be employed by your US company and pay tax in your native country.

After that is all set up, you start traveling. Both the US and Canada grant you a 6-month stay, so you could spend 6 months traveling the US in the summer and 6 months skiing in Canada.  All 100% legal; as you continue to service your customers the company pays your salary back to your native country.

The sun setting over Chicago. Where is the future US taxpayers going to come from?

The sun setting over Chicago. Where is the future US taxpayers going to come from?

You can’t apply for a green card – well, at least not in any way I have found.  So even if you wanted to, you cannot pay taxes in the US.  You can be in the US legally for 6 months, but they don’t want you to pay tax.

One of the reasons for immigration law is to protect local jobs.  But in your personal case, there are no jobs to protect. You customers will use you or somebody else, irrespective of where they are. There is no job to protect; just business that can be attracted to the US.

With an aging population and baby boomers retiring, the tax base in the US is potentially going to shrink.  You would think the US would welcome people that can help pay the growing tax bill with open arms.  But alas, current ‘policy’ does not allow it, and while politicians fight with each other, you end up paying tax in another country for work performed in another.