June Orsmond, author of Lessons from Lavender Hill High. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
June Orsmond, author of Lessons from Lavender Hill High. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Driven, empowered to write book

By Keagan Mitchell Time of article published Oct 24, 2020

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SHE had never felt threatened or in danger even when going to school before the “sun rises to water the fields”.

June Orsmond, 83, from Muizenberg launched her Lessons From Lavender Hill High yesterday.

The book tells the story of her 14 years (2000-2014) at the high school. This includes running the Youth Empowerment through School project, an initiative to change mindsets and encourage youth to “reach for rainbows”, managing the building of  a soccer field and a rugby field, the lessons learnt there, and the evidence of a deep undercurrent of social trauma in the persistently high drop-out rate.

Orsmond, who has married to Guy for 60 years, said her grandchildren kept asking: “Gran, why launch a book at 83 years old?”

“My answers were I felt driven, I believe so completely in social transformation through youth empowerment, and I am so anxious to get the new project, Lavender Hill Live in 6575, going

“As Rotarians, we had worked with Lavender Hill High School to establish an adult literacy training centre there, and had got to know and trust former headmaster Faseeg Manie, and staff. Working at Lavender Hill High School was sometimes warm and wonderful and sometimes disheartening and discouraging,” she said.

Motivated by youth empowerment as a gateway to social transformation, the mother of three and grandmother of nine, said a new normal was needed for children born into a sad world that was still burdened by apartheid damage.

“For so many years the normal for Lavender Hill children has been overcrowding, addiction, family abuse, often hunger and now death,” she said.

Her grandson, James Searle said Orsmond was caring, warm-hearted and strong-willed.

“We have a loving relationship with our grandmother, she has always been available to help us with our endeavours. We can always be open and honest. We are immensely proud and excited for her. She really has set the bar high and she has provoked a huge amount of inspiration in us.”

Former principal at Lavender Hill High, Manie, described Orsmond as a high-calibre human.

“She is dedicated, strong-minded, driven, inventive, practical and a sharp, analytical and strategic thinker. It was a wonderful experience working with her, and I was awestruck and inspired by how devoted she was to the transformation of Lavender Hill High School from a place of doom and gloom, to one of hope and possibility,” he said.

Stellenbosch University professor, Jonathan Jansen, said in his foreword: “The most important book I’ve read in 10 years.”

To buy the book at the special launch price of R200 per copy or R245 including postage in South Africa,

email [email protected] R100 from the sale of each copy will go to the New World Foundation to feed the children of Lavender Hill.

Through a separate fund-raising campaign on www.backabuddy.co.z/lavenderhillalive, Orsmond said she would also be raising a salary to appoint “a compassionate humanitarian-minded operations manager and buy equipment to get new project Lavender Hill Live in 6575 moving.”

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