“We make a life by what we give”
There is a certain calmness about the home of Carl and Santjie Geldenhuys, a quietness and sense of order that comes from lives well lived.
Carl finally retired at the end of 2015, after a total of close to 45 years with the same consulting engineering company. Santjie still works three mornings a week at the children’s play school she has owned and managed for 40 years.
Carl and Santjie would be forgiven if they settled into a pleasant routine of fun activities, travel and spending time with their family.
But that is not the case. These are people who genuinely believe that they have been blessed and, as a result, need to give back to others. “Life has been good to us,” explains Carl. “We have been genuinely blessed. We’ve both had wonderful careers – I specialised in the design of grain silos and grain mills, which can be seen all over the country and even in Mauritius – while Santjie has had her playschool for decades. We have a wonderful family, with three children and six grandchildren. We have to help those less fortunate than ourselves.”
The Geldenhuyse are members of the local NG church and are active in outreach programmes linked to that ministry. “There is an organisation called Campus Crusade for Christ and they are linked to a programme called Family Life, which counsels couples about various life stages and transitions. We are deeply involved in pre-marriage counselling.”
This counselling activity is intense. “Our church insists that couples they marry undergo pre-counselling and we engage with couples intensively before their wedding day and, quite often, long afterwards as well. We find it in enormously beneficial for young people to go into marriage well-prepared. This is a source of satisfaction for us as well.”
Carl and Santjie are also involved in outreach programmes into local communities. “We have what we call a Care Group that meets weekly, specifically to help others in need. Recently, this group has started working in an underprivileged area called Hebron, where there is a small church with wonderful, wonderful people. We started simply by going to Hebron to arrange fun days with the people.
Carl smiles as he looks across at his wife. “Santjie is a real people’s person. While I am quite happy being at home on my own, she is out there, engaging with people. That’s why she is keeping her playschool going: the 16 children there are very special to her, and she wants to disengage slowly, making sure that the level of care she gives the kids will remain after she has finally retired.”
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Carl and Santjie Geldenhuys have certainly shown this to be true, and influencing communities and families for the next generation.
Carl and Santjie Geldenhuys with their much-beloved family