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14 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Albert van Biljon
Alison Botha
Over and above being a survivor, Alison Botha is an inspiration.

It was an ordinary December 1994 evening in Port Elizabeth. Alison Botha parked her car in front of her home. A man ambushed her at knife point. Minutes later, she was forced into the passenger seat and the perpetrator drove off, picking his friend up on their way to the coastal bushes of the city.
 
What was supposed to be an ordinary evening turned into a horrific experience which changed Botha’s life forever. She was raped, strangled, had her throat slit and her stomach cut open. Physicians called her survival a medical miracle. The true miracle though, is how she has chosen to deal with the experience. 

Botha overcame her fear of public speaking and has become an international motivational speaker who also authored a first-person account of her ordeal and recovery in 1998, titled I Have Life.

Aluta continua against gender-based violence

As part of our university’s advocacy against gender-based violence, the Human Resources’ Division for Organisational Development and Employee Wellness hosted Botha for a motivational talk on 5 June 2019 at the Bloemfontein Campus. In telling her story, Botha stated that she still receives healing.

While welcoming guests and the speaker, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector: Operations touched on Project Caring which is supported by the Rectorate. “We care for you and part of that caring agenda is gender-based violence. We encourage you to speak out about this issue, don’t remain silent, someone will listen,” he advised.

From victim to victor

Botha believes that if her story serves to help someone else avoid the same situation or perhaps even survive a similar trauma, then she has served her purpose. “I now believe that the evil is far outweighed by all the good that has come out of my choice to share my story,” she said.

Much of the reason behind her strength lies in what she terms her own ABC principle which speaks to attitude, belief and choice. “We are not always going to be in control of everything that happens to us. But we always control how we respond,” said Botha. 

The story of Botha’s survival, recovery and victory proves that the human spirit cannot be crushed. There is indeed life after a near-death tragedy.

News Archive

UFS gets support for improving university access and success in South Africa
2013-10-24

 

Members of the SASSE Research team are from left: Carike Jordaan, Dr Francois Strydom, Lana Swart, Seisho Gaboutlwelweboutlwelwakemo, Michael Henn en Katleho Nyaile.
Photo: Supplied
24 October 2013

The university’s Centre of Teaching and Learning (CTL) received a grant for US$820 000 (about R8 million) from the Kresge Foundation for their South African Survey of Student Engagement (SASSE) research team.

The SASSE research team is committed to furthering student access with success by promoting quality teaching and learning institutionally and promoting collective impact around student success nationally.

Through this three-year project, the SASSE team aims to provide a range of deeply contextualised and globally benchmarked student engagement measures that can be used at institutional and module/course level for the South African context. The data from these measures can be used to improve the quality of undergraduate teaching and learning, and participating institutions will have access to appropriate capacity development interventions to empower them to use the data to promote evidence-based change in their institutions.

Dr Francois Strydom, Academic Director at the CTL, says the lessons from this higher-education project could be used to develop a stronger post-school sector which could help the country to deal with the massive challenge of youth unemployment; thereby promoting equity, social justice and a prosperous democracy in South Africa.

The Kresge Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation in the United States, which is focused on creating opportunity for low-income people through various programmes. This three-year project forms part of the Kresge Foundation’s Education Programme, which focuses on promoting access and success at South African universities. Therefore the SASSE project aims to contribute to the Kresge-sponsored Access and Success in Higher Education in South Africa (ASHESA), to promote a national conversation on improving student success.

In January this year, the university was one of four South African universities selected to take part in a multi-million rand programme to bolster private fund-raising and advancement efforts. For this programme the UFS was granted US$640 000 (about R5,6 million) over a period of five years.

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