At heart, the Namibia Media Monitoring (NaMedia)’s managing director, Natasja Beyleveld, is a God-loving woman, a small town girl, a fan of family, love, peace and a sound mind.
So grounded she is, although that has not always been her best ‘side’, if you will. She told me that when she started out in her current trade, she was all over the place; trying to make her mark, as we all do. But she has learnt to chill.
A small town girl she may be, but a busy body this Economist Young Business Woman of the Year 2013 and SNIEDA Woman Innovator of the Year 2014, is.
“I am a busy-body, but seek the wisdom that can only require seeking true purpose in everyday life. People will remember me by the way I made them feel, I believe. I also believe that not only words can transform or bring about the change we need. We end up being what we proclaim, whether or not we realize it,” she says.
She can be very determined, as “what I do is connected to a lot of emotion, or ‘being’. You spend most of your day either with or thinking about people you admire – they all contribute to your growth and test in character. We constantly grow, or change as we enter new seasons in our lives. Being determined, living by faith, being practical, being humble but confident in what you do – all this helps to attract good people so that we don’t end up becoming islands, you know. Like Maxwell said, ‘on the top’ (in your own life everybody has a ‘top’) it should never be lonely. Inasmuch as we need to connect with each other, I seek alone-time often. I believe we need to enrich each other in the moments we spend together, to part better than we found each other.”
As a modern mother of Marli (2) and De Wet (5), when it comes to the, ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ biblical adage, Natasja’s late father set an excellent example, aware that every child differs.
“We need to understand our children to be able to communicate with them better. My dad knew how to reach to my very core. He would speak softly, yet wisely and sternly that I would break down in tears, understanding what had just happened. He would then let me sit on his lap and hug me tightly. When I was a toddler or say up to nine years of age, lacking maturity and respect at times, a good spanking sorted me out. Discipline is a process. You have to set the house rules and be consistent in applying them. Should they be overstepped, you would need to show your child that there are consequences. Keep your calm, though (of course we are human, it does not always come naturally) and explain or tell a story that your child can relate to (Bible) of how our actions bare consequences, and that we always need to be considerate (to others and in our own paths).”
This is one of the ladies who genuinely made me miss my daddy. She spoke so highly of her father and for the longest time during the interview, I could swear I saw little 5-year-old Natasja instead of “this” phenomenal woman she is today.
So I asked, actually interrupting her as she spoke fondly of her children, husband, family, father and siblings: “What would you do if your child came home one day to announce that they’re gay, being a public figure?”
“It is not my place to judge, but to love unconditionally. My children need to have their own personal relationship with God; I can only teach them His ways and hope that they live by them when they grow up. That’s how far I can go on that one (laughs).”
Being of South African descent, Natasja has become such a household name in Namibia, especially in the media industry and with two young kids, you wonder how she does it; is she one of those “perfect moms”? Of course not! Motherhood is one of the toughest jobs God placed on each woman and I’m blessed to experience it. But I can tell you, my dear; it is by God’s grace that I survive each day (laugh).”
Being the prayerful woman that she is, Natasja’s life may seem well-collected at present but just as it is for the best of us, she has had to undergo those moments in life when she is flat on her tummy, on the floor, begging God not to forsake her. Yes, as she puts it, “that for me, was as recent as the beginning of this year.”
How does she balance work, being a wife and motherhood, with regard to religion, work and family, then? Discipline and prayer, she says. “Sometimes you feel great, sometimes you don’t – we have a lot on our shoulders that we must surrender daily to our Almighty Father. Otherwise, it piles up. You can only give your best, intentionally and remind yourself constantly that you’re not the one in control. Do not fear, however, or grow weary. Seek joy and thanksgiving in every situation and speak life into yours and your children’s lives. I make a point of blessing my children with oil every now and then. Go and try it tonight before tucking them in. It’s liberating in a very divine way.”
You would think a woman as driven as Natasja thinks work before children, but nah-uh! Motherhood means so, so much to her, she confesses: “I love being a mother. I love my children to bits. I love the way it makes me feel when I cuddle or tickle them and they burst into spontaneous laughter. I love the way they teach me to just ‘drop it’ and have some fun. I love the way they run, or do quirky things to make me laugh. I love the way my daughter still has baby-bums full of cellulite and she flaunts it. I love the way they are so honest about what they feel, aaaaaall the time. I love the way kids forgive and forget, and move on. I love the innocence and sincerity, amusement by the little things in life, the truth, and the hugs and the kisses. Can’s get enough!”
As far as legacy goes, we all like to think we’ll leave some for our children and the generation after them, right? For Natasja, it’s in the simple way she makes them feel loved now and the way they have learned to share that love with others that she would like to be remembered for by them. “You can have all the riches, knowledge, networks and understanding of the world – but without love, you are nothing. They must seek true wisdom that only comes from the grace of God. That’s the legacy I’d like to leave my children.”
What do you think the world would look like if all its leaders were female, Natasja being one of them, then? Boring? You’re right. She thinks so too. “Oh come oooon! That would be so weird. I respect men and their place in society. I mean, if I were to have a second daddy, since mine past away early this year, it would be Prof. Joseph Diescho. Imagine a world without men like him!”
According to Natasja, modern single-motherhood where there’s a likelihood of every form of abuse on the mother and children is plain wrong. “No woman, child or man deserves any form of abuse. I preach love.”
Motherhood teaches us all a few life lessons that may sometimes have an impact on how we conduct ourselves as leaders. For Natasja, patience has been one of them. “Besides that, grace is a necessity in life while tenderness takes us a long way in this intender world. I’ve also learnt how to share unconditional love that makes you feisty, in the sense that what you are doing should really be ‘worth it’, because you are making a sacrifice to serve a bigger purpose by not being with your children all the time. I’ve also learnt that I need my husband and that I love him for being such a strong leader in my life.”
There’s something about motherhood that spikes certain passions that as mothers, we don’t stop till they’re accomplished. Natasja, in this regard, established a trust called ‘Hannah for Life’ with the help of two of her friends. “‘Hannah for Life’ is a pro-life anti-baby dumping safe house we aim to have established in years’ time. We are currently waiting for Ministry of Gender to give us the recommendation letter to take to Social, so that we can acquire a WO number to take it forward. The safe house will have to undergo a lot of inspection before being declared ‘open’ and we would also work closely with the Women and Child Protection Unit to take in either newborn (dumped) babies, or babies (up to 12 months old) that have been taken from abusive families. This would be to ensure the safe house looks after a maximum capacity of 12 little ones. I am patient with the process for I know this will be a viable life commitment.”
I’ve been asking almost every woman this; “Do you think Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila the Prime Minister of Namibia would make a perfect female president for this country one day? Why (or why not)?”
Natasja says: “Sure, she has what it takes – and she would surround herself with the best team to support her, I believe. So go Madam PM, go!”
This working mom’s week is your typical busy one. Just as the best of us, she gets up at 5am, she’s at work by 7am, she tends to all management issues, reports and research, meetings, or whatever each day brings with it at the office, picks up the children from school at 4pm, ensures there is a hearty meal (made or bought, laughs) for supper and ensures she has quality time with the kids, hubby and then only tend to work – if pressing – after 8pm. Doesn’t it sound like the best of us – only getting some work done after the kids tuck in?
“I, however, have to work extra hard to ‘make it work’ during the day by empowering my team to help me get the job done, so I can lead a balanced life. Otherwise, it is all futile. I eventually go to bed early and ‘switch off’ well. ‘Early’ for me is any time before midnight (laughs).”
Inasmuch as it doesn’t take being Oprah Winfrey to help the less privileged, we often don’t do our part and downplay our comforts. However, if you had the power to help the less privileged, what would you do with the help of your children?
Natasja says; “We have gone together to Hope Village and delivered some tables, chairs, food and toys and played with the children. My husband has also taken Marli and De Wet along to Nande’s House (Katatura) to help with either moving items, or seeing his new house that a friend of ours helped him set-up to empower himself better (he rents out surrounding units). I let my eldest join me when I take out clothes that he has outgrown and package it to give to either Gabriel (Nande’s son) or whoever is sent our path. De Wet also chooses toys from time to time that he would like to give to Gabriel or other children who live with Sofie, our cleaner. Small things are consistent. Big things, when need arises.”
We all go through life-changing experience – good or bad – that totally change our outlook on life (and motherhood). For Natasja, “My dadda passed away unexpectedly on 22nd of February this year. It’s hardly been three months since his passing. I have never had so much pain in my life (or I have let passed experiences go) and it just really brought me to my knees where I had to surrender and trust in God every step of every day from then henceforth. No pill, no person, nothing of this earth can make you feel better or be better – it’s about where you put your trust, the true reasons for doing anything and for not entertaining fear. It’s in the desire to step forward into a promise that was given to you by God and to keep the faith with thanksgiving.
“With all this pain in this world we live in, if I ruled it, it would have many great people helping me. They would have to be great in what they do so others can follow them willingly and not by force, as it is today, you know.”
Natasja’s message to every single mother out there, especially the struggling one in an abusive relationship: “Oh my darling; stand fast, step forward and rise above your circumstances by making the tough, but right choices one by one with the help of those you trust. You are worth so much, my dear. You are golden! Do not be afraid, you will rise to remember that ‘overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us’. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. You are not ‘dirty’ or ‘broken’ by the circumstances or experiences that have hurt you. Keep the faith, keep moving forward and do not give up. Fight, woman, fight!
And to you the reader, here’s what Natasja had for you, regarding God, church and parenting: “I love God, I find him in relationships and ongoing discussions and not in processes or rules. One church is not better the other; you have saved and unsaved people going to all types of churches. The church is about you not ‘operating alone’ but living with fellow believers who encourage and comfort you as you do them. It’s about helping those who seek God. Ask for help when you need guidance – get rid of pride. I understand that everything I have is borrowed and that I have a responsibility to raise God’s children the best way I can, because they have their own purpose in life that is yet to be unveiled. I will love them, help them and even die for them if I have to.”