The Impact of Luminaria in South Africa

My name is Annalie Lotter and I work at St Mary’s DSG, Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa, as House Mistress.  What a wonderful place to work for and to have the privilege to work with the girls – they are so precious.

Our school was not excluded from Cancer survivors.  My HOD, Renee Shields and our Maintenance Manager, Andre Marx, were both diagnosed with cancer in the beginning of this year. Renee with thyroid cancer and Andre with lung cancer.

With the Grace of God both of them are still with us.  Renee is in remission and Andre still suffers from heavy pain and is busy with Chemo and also on morphine therapy.

In 2013 I decided to do a Luminaria on our school campus.  We have such a beautiful garden and a lovely building – It was a strange thing for the girls, because they could not understand what it is all about, so I had a pre-launch in the Auditorium – and after that there were no breaks! We decided to only include the Boarding House and their family and friends and the bags were sold – on 3 March 2013 we had the most beautiful Luminaria – oh my word tears and smiles all together.

This year we again had the Luminaria on 5 October.

SANLAM sponsored the guest singer for us, we sold the white bags and the girls and their friends and also the staff decorated the bags – so beautiful.  We packed the bags out in the shape of the pink bow – Andre Marx and his wife was our guests of honor. 

While we were busy and here I have to add, with Anita Snyders and the Pretoria CANSA branch, all of this would not be possible, the girls came to me, hugging me, in tears, because they already could feel the “holiness” of this event.

So we lit the lamps in the bags, our guest singer started singing and our Chapel Choir also participated.  Goose bumps!

Then we started the Survivor round and put Andre and his wife as well as their friend, one of my colleagues in the front.  Andre was absolutely fantastic.  I told him that if he feel it is too much he have to give us the signal to help him, but no he was absolutely fantastic.  He even did a second survivor lap on his own!!!!

Renee and her 2 beautiful daughters, Amy and Robyn,  was second in the queue.  The matric boarders came to me and asked if they can accompany Renee with the second round, because she is their Mommy from home.  She was in tears and needless to say this was so special.  She did not expect it.  While this procedure was ongoing, our guest singer, Quintin Prinsloo,  sang the most beautiful songs to create the atmosphere even more.

I have to add here that he is absolutely fantastic -  our daughters are mostly black and he also sang in their language and chatted with them in their language.  They could not get enough of him.

Then when all the serious procedures were out of the way and dealt with, he started with songs to lift them up a bit, so to speak.  We danced and laugh and sent Chinese lanterns in the air – no wind at that moment.

How can one describe these moments? It is an event to give each and everyone a chance to cry and laugh for their own reason.

Our Luminaria was also announced to be the Launch for the Pretoria Relay 2015.

I am already thinking of next year’s event.


Kind regards