Story of triumph that inspires women

The people behind the play I Turned Into My Grandmother are from the left J. Dirks-Korkee (director), Olga Barends (on whose life story the play was based) and Jane Mpholo, writer.

Two exceptional Bloemfontein women recently joined hands to bring the stage a remarkable story of triumph over circumstances.

The two women in question are Olga Barends, a radio presenter on whose life story the play I Turned Into My Grandmother is based, as well as Jane Mpholo, writer.

Like so many South African children Barends grew up in a house where she was an outcast. In search of greener pastures she became a victim of rape and was left for death. As she pulled her act together, she fell in love with a man who was more of the “father figure” she longed for, a pastor who knowingly infected her with HIV.

Now a warrior, Olga uses her story to inspire other women and men to constantly fight for happiness and survival.

To bring Barends’ story to life on stage, the duo roped in the service of Jefferson J. Dirks-Korkee, a multi-award winning director who was recently nominated for a kykNet award.
Maleshoane “Ladybird” Mphutlane and Stella Nortier plays the lead roles in I Turned Into My Grandmother.

The play is hosted in collaboration with the University of Free State and produced by PENM Productions.

Barends told Bloemfontein Courant she is excited that her story could finally be told and hopefully inspire women who find themselves in the same situation.
“As a young girl in search of greener pastures I found myself in Pretoria where I got a casual job and enrolled as a first year student. Here I was raped by my roommate, who left me for death.

“After this incident my life just fell apart, although I tried hard to pull everything together. As part of my efforts to deal with my issues I decided to open a Facebook page called Break the Odium, not only to share my story but also to educate society,” she said.

I Turned Into My Grandmother started at the AWO Building on the UFS campus on 30 April and will be staged until 3 May. The show starts at 18:00 every evening. Entrance is R50 for adults and students and R40 for scholars and pensioners. – Pieter Delport