Afrospection with Berrie Holtzhausen
Berrie Holtzhausen is the founder of Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia (ADN), an organisation that looks to assist people living with these mental illnesses.
Berrie travels Namibia to assist people living with these diseases, to spread awareness and often dispel the many myths surrounding these illnesses.
Berrie shares here his learnings and lessons from the past year, his self examination from Africa… his Afrospection.
Berrie’s favourite quote right now:
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” – Nelson Mandela
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
BH: To love unconditionally, even if I am disappointed.
What challenged you in 2018 and how did you overcome this challenge?
BH: That people don’t challenge their own culture, and the powerful belief in witchcraft in some communities. This belief forces people, out of fear, jealousy and mistrust, to even kill their own family members.
I felt as through this power is too powerful, it’s been like this for generations and so I can do nothing about it.
I (still try to) overcame this by holding onto the faith that there would be someone out there who would help, the ‘game changer’. Because I alone, and my organisation AND (Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia) cannot change these beliefs on our own.
I’m grateful to say that I’ve found him (the game changer) and there seems more hope that there are more “thinkers/challengers” like him.
What’s one thing that bothers you most about the world today?
BH: That nations are being driven by fear (politics and religion) more than by Love and Hope.
What was your biggest personal development learning of 2018?
BH: That I can’t break down the walls of discrimination and stigma against people living with Dementia and other brain disorders, without finding people in every community (tribe) who understand the culture, powers and mindset of their community, and how to use awareness and education to change minds and start challenging everything bad and negative “in the name of culture”.
What is your wish for Namibia for 2018?
That we acknowledge and understand that Apartheid was a Culture, a Culture that was evil and had to be removed, like the Culture of Witchcraft, which discriminates against people living with Dementia and other brain disorders, de-humanises these people. It endorses violation of Human Rights in the name of so-called “Culture of Witchcraft”. It is as evil as Apartheid and needs to be removed.
Where do you find your inspiration?
BH: My belief that God loves all humans UNCONDITIONALLY.
My wife who loves me, encourages and supports me endlessly.
My two grandchildren: Skye & River, Golden Retrievers who only knows how to love unconditionally, regardless colour or race.
My daughter who shares my passion and co-manages ADN with me and her husband whom supports us on many levels, including being our photographer, so we can tell the story of ADN visually.
My Daughter who lives in the UK and also cares with passion for people living with Dementia
What’s on your bucket list for 2019?
BH: To travel to new destinations and meet more people who are different from who I am, and enrich the humanist inside of me.
Do you believe in second chances?
Yes! Even in third and fourth changes.
I was diagnosed with two different cancers simultaneously in 2004. The specialist sent me home with these words: “Go home and finish what you need to finish; you surely are going to die”.
Well, I’m still busy to try and finish what I need to finish.
During this time of “finish what you need to finish”, a part of the Church I was a member and Pastor of, tried to get rid of me because I understand God differently to them. But now, the congregation I serve is People living with Dementia and my special calling in this community is to be a friend of People living with Dementia, and to find justice for them.
I am grateful towards God and my wonderful wife for this wonderful opportunity in “my second and third chances to finish what I need to finish”.
What skill do you wish you had?
BH: I wish I could speak and understand all the different languages and dialects of the people of our beautiful country.