Sunday 18 April 2021
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From grass to grace

While many find it fit to be stuck in one position for decades with little opportunity for growth, Rebekka Horaes is no such character. Call her power-hungry or perhaps too hyper, nothing of that sort will stop her as she has been called that before. For the young empowered and ambitious lady, it is all about architecting her life and providing a living example that women too can make it.

Many inspirational stories start with a narrative of being born in some dusty town and making it to the top. But Rebekka’s life got more interesting when she joined the “08h00 to 17h00” world in the laundry department for a company that rendered their services to Namibia Wildlife Resort’s (NWR) at the Halali camp in the Etosha National Park.

Just like many who wish to take the step to the top, Rebekka started all the way from dirty laundry to being responsible as the resort manager for the beautiful NWRs Popa Falls Resort in the northeastern part Namibia, at the age of 29.

“When I started, I used to wash guest’s panties in the laundry rooms and I worked up my way to the position of manager of a resort.”

It was in 2007 when NWR decided that outsourcing laundry was costly and they decided to open their own backroom laundry services at Halali and at other camps in the Etosha National Park. She was then poached for the job to head the department because of her vast knowledge in the industry.

“I started as an assistant laundry supervisor. I was washing, ironing and cleaning because I had experience from my previous employment.”

She stayed in the laundry department until 2009 when she decided to spread her wings for a bigger challenge. Rebekka spoke to the manager at the time and he gave her the opportunity to act in the house keeping supervisor’s role when she was not available. She took advantage of the opportunity to explore means to improve the camp. On the side “I started doing a little bit of stock controlling. I started being an acting stock controller in the absence of the stock controller,” said Rebekka. Also during this time she  started helping out as a stand-in receptionist.

In 2012, NWR switched over to a new IT system used for reservations, stock control and other functions. Through her managers, she learned the ins and out of the system and became an expert at it. “I was a super-user so I had to oversee all the departments when it came to systematical operations.”

During this process of acquiring knowledge, Rebekka remembers her critics and being called all sorts of names. “People called me power hungry and it became a situation where even other women looked down on me. But this did not stop me.”

In her quest to educate herself and consuming any relevant literature she could lay her hands on, Rebekka was appointed as Housekeeping Supervisor. This move gave her another bigger opportunity to act in the absence of the camp manager.

Months and years passed as she remained in her position while learning by the day. In December last year she received a call about an opportunity to become an acting camp manager in Popa Falls. She says she was warned about the distance and countless other things when she finally accepted. Distance and the isolation could not deter her as focused on this new venture.

“We all have flaws, faults and weak points, but I know I am strong and I am destined for bigger challenges. After all, I brought myself here” said a confident Rebekka.

In her new role, she was faced with the challenge of first bringing the house to order and whilst taking a lead at the resort.

“As a woman you have to motivate everybody.  I believe a woman is the corner stone of the house. Women can lead men too. And with my versatile knowledge of the industry, it was easy for me to help out everywhere I could.”

In reference to today’s generation of women who dream of having the best of life but who barely make time to wake up and give their best, she says there is little hope. “Life is not all about the latest perfumes or clothing brand. “I’m telling you, hard work pays off. It really does. I’m telling any of my fellow women and girls, if you don’t stand for yourself, if you don’t train yourself to be an independent woman, the world would keep revolving around men. And we don’t want that.”

She sings the praises of her mother whom she says worked barefoot to make sure that she went to school. Second in her books is NWR boss Zelna Hengari from whom she took the inspiration that another woman who has made it.

Let’s work together
In her opinion, the world is set back when jealousy and insecurity exist especially with women. “We start fighting among ourselves. When we see the next woman making progress, instead of asking her how she got it right, we become her enemy.”

“On top of that, men do a lot to us but not even with our numbers do we try and fight back as a collective. Violence against us is high – but we still fight amongst ourselves instead of holding hands together. It’s such a pity,” said Rebekka.

Answering the question on how society can catapult women to the top and stop the infighting, Rebekka says it is time to talk openly about this uncomfortable topic if women really want to grow.  She believes there are powerful women already and they can teach the young ones how to grow and compete in the male-dominated space.

“Women and men are equal. No one has an advantage that the other does not have. Also, men are not as bad as we say. In fact, they don’t stand in our way. We stand in our own way.  We become our own enemies. We fight with our own shadows and we don’t like to take the next woman as our inspiration. This is where we can start off,” concluded Rebekka.

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