Honouring the contribution that women make within our society, 9 August - National Women's Day - is an important public holiday on the South African calendar.
This year, we wanted to shine a light on four women who work in different departments at the Two Oceans Aquarium. You might have seen them working with school groups, helping with tickets or assisting with booking adventure dives and Penguin Experiences. There are women doing incredible things behind the scenes too, all working to make your experience of the Aquarium as smooth and fun as possible.
Tamsyn-Lee Abrahams, Customer Services Advisor
A friendly face behind the Visitor’s Centre desk, Tamsyn-Lee assists visitors as part of her day-to-day duties. “I really like to interact with people and get to know our visitors. And on the other side, I really like my job because I get to do the Penguin Experiences as part of my daily duties”. Tamsyn-Lee also encourages young women to join the volunteer programme if they’re interested in learning more about marine life and joining the Two Oceans Aquarium team.
Tamsyn-Lee says her grandmother is one of her role models. “She’s the glue of our family, she holds us together.”
Candice Gray, Visitor Services
Candice started at the Aquarium as a volunteer and more than a decade later, you can find her at the Visitor Services Desk at the Aquarium. Candice explains, “I’ve learnt so much in the 14 years I’ve been here that I didn’t know before I started working here. And I learn something new every day, so I’m able to help if visitors ask a question.” She cites a former Two Oceans Aquarium employee as her mentor, saying he imparted knowledge about working with people and how to handle stressful situations.
Kath Thorne, Personal Assistant to the CEO
A staff member with close to two decades’ experience at the Two Oceans Aquarium, Kath is an integral part of the organisation. She’s had the opportunity to work for the first three CEOs of the Aquarium – Lex Fearnhead, Dr Patrick Garratt and current CEO Michael Farquhar. After starting her day with a hot cup of tea, Kath steps into her role as an admin whiz.
Kath explains that the best part of her job is working with a broad spectrum of people with a diverse set of skills. “Being here has given me the opportunity to meet and work with people from across all walks of life. That to me is a huge privilege.”
Wandiswa Jonga, Environmental Education Centre
Wandiswa is a young woman with a knack for teaching kids and her bubbly personality is infectious. She’s been working at the Aquarium for close to two years. Her day-to-day duties include cleaning the tanks in the Discovery Centres as well as feeding their marine inhabitants. She also spends time prepping everything needed for school-group visits to the centre. The Aquarium hosts up to 700 school children on a daily basis!
Wandiswa explains, “You learn how to interact with different social groups, which makes my job exciting.”
She encourages young girls to come and join the Marine Sciences Academy and learn about marine life. Wandiswa lists her mother and her grandmother as her mentors, both of whom have overcome serious obstacles.
Why do we celebrate National Women’s Day?
Women’s Day honours the 20 000 women who marched to the Pretoria Union Buildings in 1956 against the pass laws of the Apartheid regime. Every year, we should bear this important part of history in mind when we celebrate the women in our lives and the contributions made by millions of women to our society.