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Award-winning South African actress joins Gateway Health Institute as their ambassador

Shaleen The Human Rights Ambassador

By Eagan Williamson on behalf of Gateway Health Institute

Top South African actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards recently joined hands with Gateway Health Institute as their brand new ambassador on Human Rights.

The signing of this famed actress signals a new era in our involvement in gender and sexual based violence in not only South Africa, but Africa as a whole.

Surtie-Richards are best known for her groundbreaking portrayal of Fiela Komoetie in the classic film “Fiela se Kind” and for her role as Nenna on the soap “Egoli”. She is no stranger to television and theatre audiences worldwide, and has entertained people from a very early age when Apartheid was still at its peak.

“I am incredibly excited to join this organization on issues that has been very near and dear to my heart for a long time. And with Gateway Health Institute we can make a real difference in the lives of many people,” Surtie-Richards said. Surtie-Richards will be focusing mainly on working with the human rights issues facing women and especially young girls.

One of her very first projects with Gateway Health Institute kicks off this November to mark the “16 Days of Activism against Women and Children abuse” to heed the call of this year’s theme: “Count me in”. She, together with a team of GHI members, will be embarking on a five province roadshow called “2 000km for 20 000 women and children” to create awareness, launch our community based paralegal program and educate men and young boys in general about the rights of women and children.

According to dr. Coen Louw, GHI’s medical director, this partnership is a huge step forward for the organization. “We could not have asked for a better ambassador in human rights then Shaleen. She knows human rights violations all too well, since she portrayed a character of a coloured woman in apartheid South Africa, fighting to keep her white child. Her wonderful personality and work ethic is incredible and it is a huge win for Gateway Health Institute.”

Through our organizational partners and affiliates - the African Human Rights Coalition and Action Equality - we aim to make a lasting impact during the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse ( 25 November to 12 December) and also World AIDS Day on 1 December. This includes the training of community based paralegals to advise and assist victims of gender and sexual based violence and education of communities regarding the rights of women and young girls.

About Shaleen Surtie-Richards

The name SHALEEN SURTIE-RICHARDS has become synonymous in the South African arts arena. This school teacher turned actress has for more than 3 decades forged for herself a name as an accomplished stage, television and big screen actress. In recent years, her accomplishments have seen her rise as a motivational speaker, celebrity adjudicator and host of some of the premier events hosted on the shores of South Africa.

This multi-award winning personality – with no less than 49 awards to her credit, is a household name whose fame and talent is recognised and admired by both old and young. With her lead role in the acclaimed / ground-breaking film, FIELA SE KIND, which was released more than 25 years ago – and her senior role in the hit soapie “EGOLI, Place of Gold” – Shaleen to this day is still fondly called “Fiela” and / or “Nenna” by her adoring fans wherever she goes.

Her talent transcends age, creed, colour, financial position and sexual orientation: there is not a community in the country that has not embraced her. “Sy is almal se gunstelling tannie!”

Her phenomenal and carefully selected roles have not only given her iconic status, but she is a brand unto herself. Having stated the aforementioned, with her genuine love for her beloved country and its rainbow nation, she has lent her name to various charitable organisations – not only in name but also in deed. Her personality is one that is warm and welcoming and her love for life is undoubtedly infectious.

She’s made it her goal to motivate, encourage and inspire – even just one person – every single day that the Almighty blesses her with natural talent.

Whilst she has played opposite various international luminaries in the theatre world – most notably Joan Collins and showcased her talents internationally, Shaleen’s love for her mother tongue, AFRIKAANS, is deeply entrenched in her artistic soul.

Shaleen, who hails from Upington in the Northern Cape, turns 60 years young this year … and it appears evident that, like a good wine, the more she matures, the greater her work becomes.

Shaleen acknowledges her success to the grace of The Almighty, her inspiration and guidance given to her by her parents of blessed memory and hard work where nothing is taken for granted.

Shaleen is and remains as beautiful as the dusty pink rose named in her honour: the specially cultivated, SHALEEN SURTIE RICHARDS rose.

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