Abigail Abrahams – a household name at the Woodstock Improvement District – has long since been an advocate for the underprivileged, the downtrodden and the hopeless. Her work in the community is extraordinary and so we caught up with her for a quick chat to find out a little more.
Abigail finished her schooling at Intect College, and in this time was attending the local church and youth where they had an evangelist and counseling course led by Dr Dave Hook. “Due to me being raised by a single mother I took every opportunity to gain knowledge in this, and that is where my journey started once I completed the course. In 2004 I started as a fieldworker at the Haven Night Shelter helping the homeless on the street, counseling and referring them to drug rehabs, health facilities and also reuniting them with their families. In 2006 I started at the Retreat branch of the Haven where I completed an intake supervisory course through the Haven, and I then started working the day and night shift helping and assisting homeless people.” says Abigail.
My passion has always been to rescue – to help people and children in need, to uplift and help restore their dignity. I came across a family with two children – a boy and a girl – the boy was 1 years old and the girl was 2 weeks old. As I entered this house I immediately switched to rescue mode – I saw that the family had nothing to offer these kids. I took the girl into my care and she is now 7 years old. I don’t ever want to see a child or a person go hungry. After leaving the Haven, I really trusted my source of provision who is my God and He sent someone my way who would send my CV to Chris Lloyd at the Woodstock Improvement District. At this time I had never heard of the Woodstock Improvement District, but was excited to start this journey and new chapter.” Abby continues.
Abigail has initiated and been involved in various projects at the Woodstock Improvement District, namely The Kholisa gardening project where they employ homeless people to plant fruit and veg to sell to various shops so that they can make a fresh start and take the necessary steps to improve themselves and their circumstances. She is currently working on a Mandela day project with one of the businesses in Woodstock and trying to get the community involved along with the homeless to paint the local skate park. Next on the cards for Abigail is to try and find ways to get at least 10 homeless people to go on a Robben Island Trip.
We asked her what her greatest accomplishments are and she said “I think reuniting someone with their family is the most rewarding accomplishment – to have people meet up after so many years is the best feeling. It’s not easy searching for a family but with the correct information it’s not that difficult. I firstly make contact with the family to ensure that they are happy to hear from the person who would like to come home. Then I will arrange transport services if necessary to get them to their destination and also make sure that the family is there to welcome them on arrival. I do keep in contact for some time after, arranging for counseling if the family needs it.”
“I consider myself to be strong, caring, funny and stern – most times I need to be stern to push my clients to a point where they no longer want this type of life, and then I also have to switch to being a cushion for a soft landing to ensure that they stick to their decision to better their lives.” says Abby.
So what is on the cards for the future of this superwoman, we asked?
“In my personal capacity I would really like to start skills development programmes, where my clients will have the opportunity to make things – but for this I will need an appropriate space and also emergency bed space for families or children coming from the street.”
If you would like to get involved in any one of Abigail’s projects or just simply offer any help or donation that is needed, you can contact her on 021 462 7321 during office hours.