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Sophie Williams

The Guiding Woman

Sophie Williams — or rather Ma Sophie, as she is called by all those she takes care of — is an extraordinary woman. She is the founder of the nonprofit Mountains and Valleys Healing and Deliverance Ministries. Ma Sophie defied her early years to become the woman she is today.

She was born 62 years ago in Philander in the Western Cape and grew up in Paarl, where she and her eight siblings had a harsh upbringing. She was abused at an early age, which left her no choice but to find a home on the streets of Cape Town where she was exposed to drugs, poverty and more abuse. Ma Sophie managed to escape this life and her upbringing inspired her to dedicate her time to helping people with the same difficulties she once endured.

She started helping people in Cape Town by offering them meals, prayer and shelter. Her purpose to help those in need led her to Eersterust, near Pretoria. After settling in there, Ma Sophie sold her house in Cape Town, using it to generate money to feed the needy. Because she did not have the knowledge and resources, Ma Sophie only established the Mountains and Valleys Healing and Deliverance Ministries as a registered NPO in 2013. The destitute and the downtrodden in the Eersterust and surrounding areas queue for assistance.

Ma Sophie provides food for about 150 to 250 people daily, depending on the availability of food. She is supported by individuals, small businesses and other good Samaritans. Ma Sophie says her most valuable lesson is to give your best today as if it’s your last time giving.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Serve with compassion.

Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?

Give the younger generation all your knowledge and experience.

If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?

To rectify all social challenges.