Elderly woman receives home make-over

Dorothy Lerm, 61, seated, is surrounded by the Khan family. Clockwise, from left, are Shaista, Nusrat, Abdul, Al-Ridhaa, and 15-month-old twins Aryan and Raish.

A group of colleagues, some taking annual leave, spent four days putting in some serious elbow grease to spruce up a Hazendal woman’s house as their Mandela Day initiative.

The team, from Katanga Parking Services, tiled and painted Dorothy Lerm’s entire house.

They also hung new curtains, donated some furniture, and presented her with canvas that said “Welcome to Dorothy’s palace”.

On Sunday June 17, the group presented Ms Lerm, 61, with her upgraded home, amid much fanfare.

Ms Lerm’s neighbours were invited to enjoy a meal and cooldrink.

Two months ago, Ms Lerm became one of the first 20 recipients in the area of a new home – a dream come true for her – after being on the housing waiting list for 32 years (“Residents overjoyed at housing handover,” Athlone News, Wednesday July 8).

The low-cost houses, however, came with concrete floors, and were not painted inside.

Despite this, Ms Lerm was overjoyed at having her own home, and invited her former manager, Shaista Khan, and her family over for a visit.

The retired Ms Lerm used to work with Ms Khan at TCI Holdings. She soon befriended the Khan family, and they maintained contact even after her retirement.

Ms Khan’s husband, Abdul, said: “We’ve known Auntie Dot, as she is affectionately known, for a few years now. She is a very loving, kind and giving person, who looks after everybody who is around her.

“When she moved in here, she invited us. She was so excited, so proud of her new home. We saw there was no flooring and no interior paint work done. We wanted to do something really special for her. And we got the idea to give back in honour of Madiba. I’m the general manager at Katanga Parking Services, and we roped in 14 staff members of our senior management team to help on this project.

“We worked 16-hour shifts from Thursday July 14, and we finished on time. It’s the most amazing thing to see Auntie Dot so happy. You never know why you cross paths with people, but I’m happy that we have Auntie Dot.”

Ms Lerm was overcome with emotion and filled with gratitude when her improved house was “handed over”.

She was asked to stay with a relative for the few days while her house was being upgraded.

Said Ms Lerm: “Firstly, I want to thank God for His grace. There’s an American show about house make-overs, but I was the first in my community to benefit from it. God is good. I thought I would struggle when some of my loved ones, who supported me financially, passed away, but God always has the final say.

“I didn’t expect what I saw today. I don’t how to express my gratitude. I’m overwhelmed. This is a privilege and I will keep everyone who played a part in this, in my prayers. I want to thank the Kantanga team, the Khan family, New Covenant Family Church, Breakout Christian Centre and the Holy Nativity congregations for always keeping me in prayer.”

The Khan couple’s son, Al-Ridhaa, also secured a R2 000 Shoprite voucher to help with the project, thanks to his employer, Hub Parking Technology.

Leslie Bekker, from Drive Force, a supplier of Katanga, supplied all the tiles needed for the house.

Ms Khan cooked and donated the pots of food they enjoyed to mark the occasion.

Said Ms Khan: “Everything about Auntie Dot is so powerful and spiritual. You just cannot not be happy when you are around her. She deserves this. Everything I do for her, comes from the depth of my heart.

“A few good men and women did something good. We may not be able to fix the world’s problems, but we can help one person at a time.”

Zelda Paulsen booked leave to be able to help on the project.

“Everything was worth it,” she declared proudly.