Episode 71: HerStory Circle: Creating Social Impact Through Connection, Storytelling, And Empowered Giving With Getrude Matshe

TMS 71 | HerStory Circle


You know something is making a massive impact when people just can’t help but make it grow phenomenally. This is essentially what went on with HerStory Circle. Starting out from a simple Facebook post that went viral, it grew into an international movement of 50,000 women in 50 countries in the space of 18 months. HerStory is the brainchild of Getrude Matshe, an African storyteller, filmmaker, poet, artist, author, and TEDx speaker. In this conversation, she shares the ethos around the movement, the impact she wants to make in the world with it, and the empowerment that it has already given to tons of women around the world. She also shares how her African upbringing shaped her worldview and how she thinks those will help her instigate the change she wants to see in the world. Tune in and be inspired by every minute of this awe-inspiring conversation.

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HerStory Circle: Creating Social Impact Through Connection, Storytelling, And Empowered Giving With Getrude Matshe

My next guest is an African storyteller, filmmaker, poet, artist, author, TEDx speaker, and Founder of HerStory Circle, Getrude Matshe. Thank you so much for being here, welcome.

Wonderful to be here, Jonathan. Thank you for having me.

You and I haven’t spoken before. I’m excited about this. I’ve heard so many amazing things about you. This is an opportunity for me. I love this because I get to learn. I want to hear about the HerStory Circle and what your mission is with that.

When I talk about HerStory, I have to go back to why I created it. I collapsed with congestive heart failure on the 27th of June 2017. I had been married for 27 years. It was a 31-year relationship. Everything was gone. My kids had grown up. I lost a 4.5 million property investing business. I lost my health and my wealth and I was living in my car.

I remember thinking, “There’s got to be other women like me who have gone through this experience. I know I’m going to get myself back up on my feet but while I’m doing it, I need to share this story.” I wanted to transmute the pain, the hurt, and the disappointment into gold. I put a post on Facebook that went viral. In 48 hours, I had 2,500 women who responded in fifteen countries. Now, prior to this, I had a bit of a track history. I had a bit of a following on social media. I was a motivational speaker. I have been to 56 countries. I can’t tell you how many towns, cities, and villages in between.

My community responded and I didn’t realize I had that much influence. I launched this initiative in Las Vegas. I had 100 women, all speaking like they were doing a TED Talk, and the vision was if 100 women could bring 10 friends, we would have 1,000 women at that event and that happened. The second event was in Wellington, New Zealand. The third was in Sydney, Australia. Beginning of 2020, I got a grant from the New Zealand government.

Through the Department of Tourism, they were inspiring organizers of events and conferences who bring people to New Zealand and I was given a $150,000 grant that paid for my social media and my marketing. It paid for me to travel around the world and recruit speakers so I could have a big event in June 2020. Off I went to Norway in January. In February, I was in London. In March, I came back to New York. COVID happened while I was in New York and everything stopped.

Everybody said, “You’ve got to go back to New Zealand. There’s a virus.” I had fifteen events that were canceled for the first quarter of 2020. You can imagine. I’ve paid for venues and food. Nobody could refund me. On the way back to New Zealand, I stopped in Australia. I did two events in Australia and two events in New Zealand before the world came to a standstill. Now 2020 was a very interesting year. I had a couple of family tragedies that had happened prior to this.

I had lost my father. I’m from Zimbabwe originally. I’d gone back to Zimbabwe. After two years, I couldn’t travel because I was ill but when I got better, I went to see my parents and my mother was very ill at the time. Everybody thought my mother was going to die. She had early Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. I went back to Zimbabwe and spent five weeks with my parents and slowly, my mom was getting better. She was bedridden when I got there. She couldn’t stand in the shower.

I would walk her down to the main gate of the house every day and she was getting better. The day that I was supposed to leave Zimbabwe, I could feel death in the house. I have a horrible gift. I’m shown things and weird premonitions before they come but this one was so strong. I would get goosebumps first thing in the morning like it was cold and it’s 100 degrees outside.

I said to my partner at the time, “I can’t go back to New Zealand. My mother’s going to die and I need to be here.” He thought I was crazy. He’s like, “Getrude, don’t be superstitious. This isn’t true.” I said, “It’s just a feeling I have. I’ll come back when I’m ready.” He came back to New Zealand because he had to go back to work. Ten days later, my mother crashed again. I’m rushing her to the hospital. My dad had gone to church. It was a Sunday. I called my father. I said, “Dad, I’ve taken Mom in. Please follow.” He said, “Don’t worry. I’m on my way.”

As I’m rushing my mom through the emergency, my cell phone rang. There’s someone on my father’s phone, so my dad died on the way to the hospital. Six months later, it’s now COVID. I lost my mom on the 29th of April. Two weeks after that, my daughter had a miscarriage. I’ll tell you, Jonathan, my mother’s funeral was the saddest day of my life, not being able to go back to Africa to bury her. I have four siblings. I’m in New Zealand. One of my brothers died in 2009. My sister lives in Sydney. My other brother lives in Edmonton, Canada.

My only brother who lives in Zimbabwe is burying our mother alone. She said, “I will Zoom you in. All of you get on Zoom and you can watch the funeral.” That morning, I started spiraling again. I started getting ill. My blood pressure came back, the chronic fatigue that comes with it and I wanted something in the world to change because none of it was making any sense. I was so depressed. I wanted to slash my wrists then I remembered a ritual.

I used to see it done in Africa where if you lost someone close, I would see people shaving off all their hair. I didn’t understand it at the time but I took a shaver to my hair and shaved it all off, so this is an extension. I come online and my sister takes one look at me and she starts to laugh hysterically. I’m like, “Patricia, why are you laughing? It’s Mom’s funeral.” She said to me, “Getrude, have you looked in the mirror?” I’m like, “What are you going on about?” She said, “You look so much like Mom. It’s like a reincarnation.”

I did look like my mother. I was a duplicate copy of her. When we walked in the streets, people couldn’t tell the difference between us. Now fast track, it’s six months later. I stopped everything. I had to grieve and I woke up in a dream. In this dream, I was brushing my teeth in the morning. I spat into the sink. I look up into the mirror. The person looking back at me wasn’t me. It was my mom. She was vibrant, healthy, and laughing the same way my sister had laughed on the day of her funeral.

She said to me, “Do you see what I did, baby?” I’m like, “Mama, where are you? What are you talking about?” She said, “I made you look like me so that you’ll remember I haven’t gone anywhere. I am in you. I am with you but you need to get up and finish your work.” She said, “So long as you’re six feet above the ground, your job’s not done.” I snapped out of a state of depression, put my platform online, and started having online events.

We scaled in 18 months to 50,000 women in 50 countries and our movement is a social impact movement. I curate these stories into books, so we have an anthology series of books, where we publish ten women in every book. We have a HerStory magazine. Again, I got help from one of my mentors, Arianna Huffington. I used to blog for the Huffington Post, so when I was ill, I talked to her. She had collapsed with exhaustion and sold the Huffington Post for $1 billion.

TMS 71 | HerStory Circle
HerStory Circle: HerStory is a social impact movement. It scaled in 18 months to 50,000 women in 50 countries.


She said to me, “Getrude, if you have such a big following, get your community to blog and write articles. It’ll push up the SEO on your website.” We created the HerStory Magazine and now, we’re working on a reality TV show based on all of these amazing women’s stories. We’ve pitched it to Oprah’s network. We’ve been interviewed twice and the vision is to create a reality TV show like The Voice, American Idol, and TED Talks all rolled into one, where 100 speakers speak competitively and we want to turn them into influencers.

I’ve been observing how reality TV shows can help people become influencers but we want influencers who are making a difference in the world. We want to attract go-givers and go-getters. Every woman who will come onto the platform will have a social impact project that she supports in her own community. I’ve personally got 200 projects that I have initiated in the last several years. I started off in Zimbabwe during the AIDS pandemic, paying for school fees for the orphaned children in my immediate family.

The HerStory Circle wants to attract go-givers and go-getters. Every woman who comes onto the platform will have a social impact project that she supports in her own community. Click To Tweet

My grandmother had eleven children. She had 34 grandchildren. Nineteen of my first cousins died of HIV-related diseases. There were 49 orphaned kids on my side of the family and another 40 on my ex-husband’s side, so I self-published a book. I would speak for free at events, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and any social networking groups and I tried to sell 100 copies every month.

It turned into a foundation that has sponsored well over 15,000 children in the last several years. As I traveled as a keynote speaker, I would see the same levels of poverty around the world. I would see women in terrible conditions. I would see grassroots projects teaching them how to knit, how to sew, and how to make jewelry and I would sell that jewelry and all of their products on my websites through my community.

Now I’m empowering other women to do the same thing. I’m saying we can be the change we want to see in the world. We can make a difference, even if it is to one person. Our stories have power, Jonathan. Your story could be the light at the end of the tunnel for somebody else who’s going through a similar challenge and that’s the journey I’m on now. That’s what brings me to the HerStory Circle.

We can be the change we want to see in the world. We can make a difference, even if it is to one person. Click To Tweet

Thank you for sharing all that. What an amazing story. It’s so powerful. It seems like when you take it all together, there’s this part of sharing your stories and making sure that other people share their stories but then also making sure that there’s a way to give back to these communities. Making sure that the jewelry that’s being made is going to be sold. Do they play equal importance? Is this about sharing voices? Is this about making sure we give back to those communities that need our help and maybe were left behind? What’s most important here or are they all important pieces of the puzzle?

They’re all an important piece of the puzzle, Jonathan. I have created a bridge between women in Western countries and those in the developing world. A lot of us are left behind by the circumstances of our birth, our parents, and our locations. I was one of those women. I was just fortunate that I had two amazing parents who realized that if they educated their kids, we would get out of poverty. I was born in a hut with no electricity and no running water. Most of my relatives are in those conditions to this day. I feel very privileged. I feel very lucky to have had my parents.

When you saw your mother in the mirror speaking to you, I’m trying to understand what that feels like.

It was an incredible feeling. I’ve always grown up in a culture where we believe that the dead aren’t gone, that the dead are with us, and that we transmute into a different energy form that we can’t touch and can’t feel. We’ve always had what we call ancestral worship, where those who’ve come before you guide you to where you’re supposed to go. Those who come before you are the connection between you and God. You and spirit but to experience it like that was incredible.

What was beautiful is she was healthy, vibrant, and full of life and laughing and that was the memory of my mom. That was the person that she was and that’s the person she still is. It was surreal and I can go back to that moment anytime I miss her now. I hear her in the rustling of leaves when I’m walking in a park. She talks to me, speaks to me, and guides me when I feel low.

I remember when my dad died. I sat on his grave and I asked him why he died on my watch. I felt so guilty. My dad had a heart attack. He had high blood pressure all his life. I knew he was ill but Mom was worse. It felt like I didn’t have the eye on the right wall and he came to me again in a dream when I came back to New Zealand. He said to me, “Getrude, of all my five children, I knew you could handle this. Of all my five kids, you were the strongest one. I knew you had this and I knew you would look after your mom.”

What is this life that we live? I do believe as souls, we choose the experiences we’re going to have in this flesh. I know that when I incarnated as an African woman, I chose to come and change a story, a narrative for African people. I came to show that there is another way of being, to show African people that we were sold a lie that we are poor. Yet we come from one of the richest continents on the planet. What does Africa not have from gold to minerals to diamonds? What we need is to educate our population and the next generation. I know that my work is my legacy. I am a living legacy and I will live long enough to see the change happen on the continent. I know that for sure.

It’s exciting to be alive. It’s exciting to get a second chance and when I heard about your show and your movement, the Self Love Revolution, I’m reminded to take care of myself. I have not taken care of this body, this suit that I wear and it’s been hard to get back on my feet. It hasn’t been easy these last few years but I’m slowly getting there. I want people to remember that your health is your wealth. If you’re not healthy, you can’t do anything.

TMS 71 | HerStory Circle
HerStory Circle: Your health is your wealth. If you’re not healthy, you can’t do anything.


You’re saying you’ve been struggling these past years. It’s been hard yet you’ve created so much. I’m going, “When you start taking care of it all, when you got the health, the wealth, all of that, what are you going to create?” A lot of us would be like, “I’m tired and I need my energy then I’ll create something when I figure out what’s wrong with me,” but you’re there creating. What are you going to create when it’s post-pandemic and you got it all back?

That’s the magic of what’s coming and I feel it. My mother used to say I was ADHD. I just wasn’t medicated. I’m one of those kids who was born with a lot of energy. I have done some incredible things. I’ve managed to turn 24-hour days into 36 and that’s how I’ve been my whole life. This has been a slowing down of that energy.

The magical thing that did happen that has helped me recover fast, Jonathan, is my daughter got pregnant straight after the miscarriage she had. She gave birth to a beautiful little baby boy in 2022. The day that I held this little baby, I feel like this little soul jumped into one body, failed to come into the world, said, “I need to go back,” and jumped into the next little body.

He came to mend his grandmother’s broken heart. Jonathan, when I held this baby, he filled every hole that was in my heart, all the loss that I experienced in the last few years. He’s the most incredible little human. When I’m with him, I can’t do anything but be present in his presence. All of my worries melt away and he’s like me. He’s ADHD so you have to watch him. Now he’s walking. He is in this corner of the room and the next minute, he’s at the next corner. He commands your attention.

I can’t be depressed. I can’t be worried about anything. I am fully focused when I’m with him. I have a sense of appreciation that I get to see the next generation. Everything I’m doing now, Jonathan, is for him. It’s for me to leave this planet a better place than I found it so that when he grows up and his children grow up and his grandchildren grow up, they can say, “We had this crazy little African grandmother who came from Zimbabwe with no money, with her three children, and created a life in New Zealand and now lives in Australia. This is what she did for us.”

My grandson is everything to me. Your first grandchild is named by you. I had the privilege of naming him and I came up with all kinds of names. My daughter kept saying, “Mom, wait until he’s born. Wait until you see him first,” then I changed all of his names when I saw him and I called him Matida. Matida means, “God, You have blessed us.”

This little human being is a blessing to our family. He came at a time when the world was in absolute chaos. African names have a meaning. My name has a meaning. I was named after my grandmother. You remember when you were talking, I said my name was pronounced get rude. My grandmother was put in an orphanage. She was taken from her parents during the colonial days and thrown into an orphanage.

She didn’t know her African parents. She didn’t know her African name and she was named by a German nun and she called her Gertrude. Gertrude is a German name. My grandmother was very bitter about this. She didn’t know her people and she said, when she turned six when she could read English, she decided to drop the R in Gertrude as an act of defiance to piss off the nuns. She said the nuns would beat her until she was black and blue and she refused to put that R back. Now my grandmother’s name has a meaning and that’s why I’ve kept my misspelled German name. It confuses people. They call me Gertrude and I insist that no, it’s Getrude. Our names have a meaning.

You mentioned Africans being incorrectly taught that they were poor and how we need to educate everyone so they know the wealth that they have inside of them and of course, the country has diamonds, gold, and everything there. You’re in Australia now. Do you envision returning to Africa at some point? Is that still home to you? What’s home to you? Do you picture yourself living there again?

Hope for me now is where my children and my grandchildren are but I go back almost 2 or 3 times a year. I have a foundation. I’ve taken over a small primary school that I fund. I go back very regularly and I think I will die in Africa. Africa is in my blood. Eventually, I will go back but now I am with the living. I am with my daughter, my sons, and my grandson. Home is where my family is now.

What do you want to make sure you are remembered for?

I want to make sure that I am remembered for creating social impact in communities worldwide. I want to be remembered as that woman who woke people up to see the poverty in their own communities and do something about it. A lot of times, we sleepwalk through life, we drive and we see the homeless on the sidewalks and we don’t acknowledge their humanity. Unfortunately for me, I was born with a lens that sees everything. I’m an empath, so I absorb the pain and the sadness of other people. I want to wake enough people up. I know not everybody will get this message but there will be a critical number of people who do.

How do we wake people up?

In Africa, we have a philosophy that I live by called Ubuntu. Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu means a person is a person through other people. It’s our way of expressing the condition of being human. In Ubuntu, there is no you. There is no me. There’s only we. We say that if a tree falls in a forest and nobody sees it. Did it really fall? My existence is hinged on you observing my being right here. If you didn’t see me, I wouldn’t exist.

A person is a person through other people. It’s our way of expressing the condition of being human. There is no you. There is no me. There’s only we. Click To Tweet

It’s woven into our language and how we greet each other when we meet. In Southern Africa, if you meet someone, you say “Sawubona.” Sawubona means I see you. It’s the acknowledgment of your humanity and mine. It’s not the seeing of sight. It’s my acknowledging that you’re another human being. In Ubuntu, when we greet in Zimbabwe, I would say to you, “ Mangwanani,” which means, “Good morning, how did you rise?” Your response would be, “Ndamuka wamukawo,” which is, “I woke up well if you woke up well.” We believe that if one person in the community is sick or unwell, then all of us are ill.

We believe in a radical connection to others and eye contact. It’s simple things, Jonathan. It’s standing in a bank queue and you’re waiting to be served. You say hello to the person standing in front of you and you smile. Sometimes you don’t know that person hasn’t had human contact in weeks and days. It’s as simple as that.

I’m here in America and it seems to me that as we have gotten richer and wealthier monetarily, we’ve lost our connectivity with other humans in a way. What you’re talking about those words, I see you and I wake up well if you wake up well, I’m going to review this tape so I get the right African words. Not just richer but also as we get more educated, it seems we get wealthier monetarily, and then we lose that connection.

We have this goal because the stories you’re sharing are so beautiful in the words of this African heritage. As Africa gets more educated and recognizes their wealth, it stops getting stolen historically from the colonial age but it’s still happening. How do we make sure we keep what you’re talking about, that we keep our connection with each other, and that it is a we?

The principles of Ubuntu are number one, empathy, connection, collaboration, and community. We are a communal people. I see in America, people don’t have a sense of community anymore and I do believe that this virus has come to teach us this very principle. When they finished sequencing the human genome, they found that every single human being on this planet is 99.9% the same. Our perceived differences are only skin deep.

We believe that humanity is like an organism, that we are one. We are cells of the same organism. Now, if one person in the world is not okay, we’re all not okay. COVID has come to remind us as human beings that we are literally a breath away from affecting and infecting each other. I believe as African people, we can help make people remember who we are. We are all from Africa. Africa is the cradle of humanity. That’s what I can see as the future. As we regain our wealth and become more educated, we hold on to our principles and those values that make us African.

TMS 71 | HerStory Circle
HerStory Circle: Humanity is like an organism. We are one. We are cells of the same organism. If one person in the world is not okay, we’re all not okay.


I find it even here in New Zealand. African people that I bump into, when we see each other, it’s almost like I’ve met somebody who is a relative of mine. I have a sense of community when I meet other African people. We break bread, we cook, and we eat together. In my language, we have a saying, “Ukama igasva hunazadziswa nekudya,” which means relationships are like fabric that weaves us together with the breaking of bread. I can’t call you a friend, Jonathan, unless I’ve been in your home and I’ve shared a meal with you and vice versa.

When are you coming?

I’m coming in March so you can get to meet me in person if you like.

I cannot wait.

When COVID happened in my street in New Zealand, one of my neighbors came and put letters in every single household in my street. This man’s name is John. His wife’s name is Jane and he said, “If anybody needs help, this is my cell phone. If you need to go and get some groceries and you can’t go out, give us a call.” I discovered that there was a family two houses away from my home. The wife was disabled. She had just had a baby. She had a little three-year-old. I would call her and read stories to her little son so she could have 2 or 3 hours of rest looking after the baby.

This man created a Facebook group for my street. For the first time in the several years I had lived in New Zealand, I felt that I had a sense of community. It’s already happening, Jonathan. COVID, when these catastrophic events happen, the universe is stopping us in our tracks. Look at what’s happened with carbon emissions.

The number of flights that were canceled during COVID. The earth is breathing again. Something magical is happening now. The Chinese write the word for crisis with two symbols. One stands for danger and the other stands for opportunity. We’ve been gifted with a dangerous opportunity to change our world, to change how we’re doing things, and to see each other again. I’m excited to be living at this moment in time.

You’re an amazing storyteller and now you’re helping bring others together to share their stories. For someone who knows they have a story but they hear you and go, “I can’t talk like she does.” How do they begin to share their story? How do they make that step from hiding to sharing?

Somebody is waiting to hear your story. Imagine if by sharing it, you changed one person’s life. That’s how I started. I knew there would be a woman who’s divorced, widowed, separated, broke, and broken, who would observe me and say, “If she can do it, I can do it too.” We have to honor our stories, Jonathan. There’s nothing special about me. The only special thing is I’ve said this story so many times. I can say it well and it comes with practice. It’s practice and articulating the story but you need to honor your own story, everything you’ve gone through, and share it.

TMS 71 | HerStory Circle
HerStory Circle: Somebody is waiting to hear your story. Imagine if by sharing it, you changed one person’s life.


How do you define the word success?

Success for me is when I see the results of my labor, when I get those emails online, and of people who’ve watched my videos. I got a LinkedIn message from a little girl from Zimbabwe living in Norway. She was doing a Social Entrepreneurship Business degree. Her professor played my TEDx Talk and she plucked up the courage to go on LinkedIn to find me. She said, “Getrude, I am so inspired by what you’ve done. I’m so inspired by what you’re doing. I know you might not answer this message. Can you be my mentor? Can you be my coach?”

I responded immediately. She couldn’t believe it. She was in tears when I talked to her on Zoom and that’s what is success for me. It’s people who reach out to me and they see me and what I’ve done. Sometimes you have to be a role model or an example of the possibility for other people. When I went to Zimbabwe the last time, I was at the school. It’s a little primary school. I started a preschool because most children were not getting anything to eat.

We had a drought and torrential rains and so I started a feeding program in my school so the kids get a bowl of porridge every morning. Before I knew it, all the villagers were sending their under-five-year-olds to the school for food, so I started a preschool. These two little girls were about 3 or 4 years old. They were holding hands and following me around the school the whole day. They were like a tail. I would stop, try, and listen to what they were saying.

I heard one of them saying, “Mrs. Matshe is so beautiful.” The other one said, “Do you know what? She’s driving the car.” I realized at that point that I had to keep showing up, Jonathan, as the possibility. Women in my village don’t drive. All the men drive the cars and these two little girls saw me driving a vehicle. Now imagine what that did for those kids. They can believe they can do it too now. Even if I don’t do anything else for the children in my community, I have to keep showing up as me so they can see themselves in me.

You said before that you’re no different, anyone can do this but I need to push back on that because you see people making jewelry and you make sure it gets sold. You see people aren’t getting enough to eat and need education, so you start a school. Now lots of us pass by these types of things every day, even in wealthy countries. We drive in and there are things we wouldn’t want to admit, even down the street. You are different because you see things and you don’t pass them by. You take an action. Why are you so different from so many of us that see those same things?

It’s my upbringing. I grew up with a grandmother who brought me up from the age of 9 months until I was 3. I grew up with parents who were givers. My grandmother would give away food that she had cooked for us if she saw someone walking past our hut, carrying a load, looking like they were traveling a distance. She would call them into the house and give them all the food to eat. I’ll say to her, “Why are you doing that? We’re hungry.” We would sleep on empty stomachs. We weren’t wealthy. She would say, “They need the energy. They’re traveling. We’ll eat tomorrow.” We would sleep on water.

It’s almost like a drug. My grandmother would say, “This universe is like a giant bank and you have to keep depositing good deeds. It will never come back from the person you help or the people you serve but it comes back tenfold in the most magical ways.” I’ll tell you, Jonathan, I have had a spirit-led life. I’ve had life experiences that defy gravity. Situations where things have happened that it’s almost like miracles. My life plays out like a series of miracles.

This universe is like a giant bank. You have to keep depositing good deeds. It will never come back from the person you help or the people you serve, but it comes back tenfold in the most magical ways. Click To Tweet

If there is karma, there is something that happens when you give. You’re giving to yourself, not to the person. The feeling that you get when you give, that’s why I’m saying it’s like a drug. It fills me up, gives me joy, and I never get to meet these people but I do get sometimes to go full circle and meet them again. When I collapsed with heart failure, I collapsed in Bali. I was in Indonesia. I had first gone to Bali many years ago.

I was a keynote speaker at an event and I decided that as I traveled around the world, I would look for orphanages and give to orphanages. I went and visited an orphanage. I’d raised $1,000 for these kids, spent the whole day there, playing with the children and when I was leaving, the nuns who ran the orphanage told me that there were three little girls who had turned eighteen. If they let them go, they would end up in prostitution because they didn’t have money to send them to college.

I asked how much it would cost. It was only $500 a year. That was a no-brainer, Jonathan. I went back to New Zealand. I fundraised for three little girls in an orphanage in Bali and sent them to university. Nine years later, one of those girls found me on Facebook. She wrote me the most beautiful message. I still have it framed on my desk. She said, “Getrude, you are my African mother. The money that you paid for me to go to university helped me do a computer course because I wanted to be like you.”

She said, “I managed to put two of my little brothers through university because of that gift. If you ever come back to Indonesia, you need to know you have a daughter here.” I go back to Bali often. I have an Indonesian daughter. I have grandchildren there. The day that I collapsed, I wasn’t staying with her. I was staying in a hotel, in a spa that my daughter had paid for. I went and had lunch with her the day before I collapsed, so that was the first miracle.

The day I collapsed, I have a taxi driver I hired for the week. I know that most Indonesians make $1 a day. If the man doesn’t own the car, he’s probably getting $0.20 a day and that was the case with this man. I said to him, “If you come on time every day, you’ve got my job for the whole ten days that I’m here, show up on time. I’ll give you an extra $20.” This man would come religiously on time. Now, because of traffic, he didn’t know which hotel I was in. He was picking me up three blocks away.

Now imagine the day I collapsed, we are sightseeing in a rice field. I’ve left my ID and my passport. I don’t even have my wallet. This man saved my life, Jonathan. He did not wait for an ambulance. He put me on his shoulder, put me in his car, and drove me to the nearest private hospital. I would not be here if it wasn’t for him. I woke up five days later in intensive care. There he is at the foot of my bed like an angel. He did not leave my side. He didn’t know how to contact my family.

The only thing he knew was that my name was Getrude but because I had lunch with my Indonesian daughter the day before, he called her workplace and said, “The woman I was with yesterday is in intensive care. I don’t know how to contact her family.” I had taken my kids to Bali. They know Victoria. She called my sons on Facebook and she reconnected me with my kids. It was just a small gift for $500 a year many years ago. I could have had a porpoise burial in Indonesia and my kids would never have known what happened to me. That’s the power of giving, so I keep doing it.

I do what I can, where I can but now my giving is different. It’s empowered giving. I’m teaching these women to be self-sufficient so that if anything happens to me, they can stand on their own two feet. What I had done in the past was not sustainable. When you give someone, teach them to fish. Don’t make them dependent on you.

We’ve been brought up. We have this term quid pro quo. We give you something for something in return and you’re showing us you never know when you’ll receive that gift back years later in another country. The universe always comes full circle and even more.

It comes back tenfold. The little $500 that I gave is nothing compared to the gift that this girl gave me.

I could talk to you for hours. Thank you so much for being here. Before we go, is there anything, last message that you want to make sure that all of us reading take home with us?

First of all, I want to say thank you for seeing me. I want to say thank you to Michael Silvers, the Mental Studio, for seeing me, for seeing the person that I am, and for sharing my story because I wouldn’t be on your platform if it wasn’t for him. I want to say thank you to everybody who’s read this interview from beginning to end. Thank you for your time. Thank you for taking in what I’m sharing and please do a little something.

I tell people that there is a piece of software called Ubuntu. Everybody thinks it’s an operating system. I’m calling our philosophy, Humanities Operating System, and installing it is very simple. You put your family first. Are you paying attention to your wife, your husband, or your significant other? How are you? How are things going at work? Are you paying attention to your kids? How are they doing at school, at university, and in life? You put your family first.

Next, it’s your community, your next-door neighbor, the person who lives next door to you. When was the last time you looked them in the eye and said, “Hi, Jane. How are you?” and listened to the answer they give you back? That person you bump into in a supermarket and you smile who might not have had human contact in weeks. If you can do something else in the world, extend a hand to other countries, to other unfortunate people who are born in places not by choice but by circumstance and make a difference there. It’s your community first, then do something somewhere else in the world.

Getrude, thank you so much for sharing and for being with us.

Thank you, Jonathan. Have a fantastic day.


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