VITAL VOICES – Eugenie Drakes
I first met Eugenie in 2013, in the July. I had been selected to participate in a local television series that highlighted SMMEs in South Africa, their triumphs, their concerns and their stumbling blocks. It was at the launch of this series, that we had our first encounter.
I spotted an idol of mine, Dion Chang, across the room and thought to myself, ‘Hayley this is your big chance to meet the man, go and introduce yourself!’ I eventually mustered up the courage, and walked over to where he was sitting. I had not prepared anything to say, and as a result, all I managed was ‘Hi Dion my name is Hayley and I am a huge fan of your work!’. He graciously shook my hand and said hi and was then whisked away for photographs. I then stood alone, feeling somewhat sheepish, until a beautiful soul grabbed my hand and said, ‘Come sit down here with me!’. Which I did so very gratefully. This angel turned out to be Eugenie.
‘Thank you for saving me!’ I said. ‘I am Hayley, very nice to meet you! I am a participant on the show, are you as well?’ Eugenie told me that she was indeed, and she was very excited and proud to have been chosen. I agreed wholeheartedly. Eugenie then said we need to keep in contact and I was absolutely keen to do so. She handed me a business card. I then saw on her card that it mentioned that she was a participant in the Goldman Sachs and GIBS 10000 Women Programme. I could hardly contain my excitement as I had applied for the program just a week before! When Eugenie heard this, she was absolutely chuffed and said I HAD to let her know what the outcome of my application was, as the programme was such an amazing one and she had gained so much from it. We then said our goodbyes but the mark that this giving and caring angel had left on me was indelible and I knew beyond a doubt I would see her again.
The very next week, I received an email from GIBS saying that I had been successful in my application for the 10000 Women Programme. My excitement was palpable and try to my word, the very first person I contacted was Eugenie. She was so proud of me! A few weeks later she then invited me to come and watch her screening of ‘Its My Biz’ which I did with joy! And so our friendship progressed from one level to the next. This was my first introduction to ‘Piece’ and I was blown away. I couldn’t wait to go into the store and view it for myself.
Eugenie’s story, and the way that she has touched literally thousands of lives with her work, is a truly amazing one. I have worked with her and witnessed her Mentorship, care and love of so many. She takes a genuine interest in everybody she meets and is never shy to impart her wisdom to all she encounters. She treats each and every person as though they are precious, and she learns just as much from them in these encounters as she teaches. She is open, passionate, caring, nurturing, and when one leaves her presence, you glow for hours afterwards in the warmth and love that she simply beams.
Eugenie is quite simply an angel and I am so very proud to be associated with her.
She has overcome so much in her life, as a single mom and then as an Entrepreneur. She gives every fibre of her energy and her wisdom and her truth to every aspect of her life and this is evident in the love and respect she automatically obtains from all who bare witness to her soul.
She has taught me so much about life. My most important learning from her was this. I described to her how I take on everybody else’s problems. How I feel that I need to help and to save the world. Eugenie’s response was: How dare you! This needless to say blew me away somewhat, as in my mind it was a nice thing to try and help people. She went on to say ‘how dare you take other people’s life lessons away from them. These challenges were given to each and every person as a way for them to learn, progress and conquer. And yet every problem or difficulty left for people to overcome and solve, you are grabbing and taking from them! Stop stealing! Its not yours to take!’ This blew me away. Surely being selfless and a ‘martyr’ was a beautiful gift to the world – look at me, so self-sacrificing! So brave and selfless! Turns out, I was so wrong. This simple advice put so much into context for me, and has made my life so much simpler. Now when presented with a problem or a hardship, I simply ask myself if its mine to take or if I should leave it alone for fear of stealing.
She inspires, she leads, she motivates, she encourages. But mostly she loves, builds up, tolerates and forgives.
Eugenie Drakes is simply one of the most amazing souls I have encountered on my journey on this Earth and I am blessed beyond comparison to have her sharing my time here. May she grow from strength to strength and may she never stop teaching!