Celebrating women’s month with the unsung heroines in the field of development: Julita Dorman

Women’s Month stories often focus on renowned women. This series aims to celebrate some of the women we have worked with in development who you may not yet know about, but who have made an impact where they are, with whatever resources they have had. Each woman has a valuable journey consisting of trials, learnings and proud moments to share. This is Julita Dorman’s journey…

Hi Julita, please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 50 years old. I am currently founder and project manager of an NPO called Sakha Isizwe Development (Building the Nation).

Thinking back, I remember struggling though school, as school was not my only concern while growing up. Besides going to school, I also had to take care of my sibling before and after school as both my parents were working and I was the eldest.

I remember my reports always read ‘Julita can do much better’. My parents were very loving and supportive, but, unfortunately for me, completing school was not on top of their list.

During my high school years I became very uninterested in school. The teachers who were a part of my life were not very supportive, so much so that in grade nine I was made an example of in class. My teacher told the other kids that they should stay clear of me as I will amount to nothing. This broke me and I left school that year. If you weren’t in the A or B class you were seen as a slow learner.

While teachers were degrading and uninterested, my parents always motivated me by saying, “Don’t worry too much about your handwriting; you are going to be a Doctor.” Or “don’t worry what others say about you, we love you”. As a youngster, this is not what you wanted to hear. Being accepted was all I cared about, so at that time their words had no meaning to me.

Needless to say I started my working career at a very young age. I worked here, there and everywhere and no one cared as long as I worked. I eventually settled for six years at a corporate company working as a tea girl. It was at this company that my interest in studying awoke again. I was given the opportunity to grow in the company and six years later I was the creditor’s clerk. At the age of 37 I attended one of Frank Julie’s personal development workshops that changed my life. It was at this workshop that I realised I am destined for more. I started attending more and more workshops on self-development and this just made me stronger and I started to face my fears. The world was not as scary any more. At the age of about 40, I started working for an NGO that worked in the ECD and personal development field. I really lived out my dream of working in communities and helping people like me to start believing in themselves again. However, at the same place where I found so much joy, I also found lots of unfairness where salaries were concerned. Because I did not have my matric at that time, I felt that I was being underpaid. This motivated me to complete my matric in 2010.

At the age of 45 I registered my NPO. This came with lots of challenges. Today as I look back five years later, I just stand in awe at what I have achieved. I have gained lots of life and practical experience. I have confidence. I have learnt to endure. I am committed and I believe in myself. I have accepted the fact that I will make mistakes and that I should learn from them and move on. I can show confidence without being arrogant. I am aware of my personal insecurities and I am working on them every day. I can work independently and in a group and I am a critical thinker.

I could not have achieved all of this without the help of others. We need people to believe in us, guide us and to direct us to where we can find the resources, because it is one thing to be motivated but not as easy to find resources. I am blessed and privileged to have this in my life – people who support me and guide me to where I can find the resources.

Who or what inspires you?

Firstly my GOD. Then seeing women just like me succeed against all the odds. It motivates me to keep on doing what I’m doing, because if they can I can.

If you could name one thing that you’re proud of about yourself, what would it be?

It’s that I have completed my matric, studied at Stellenbosch University and am currently studying at UCT. I am even prouder that I have passed my first semester.







Julita was nominated for being community-driven, able to identify needs in her community and resourceful.

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