The newest member of Christadelphian Aged Care’s Board grew up in South Africa and worked with some of the most vulnerable in the community.
When Carryn Oosthuizen was first asked to become part of the Board of Christadelphian Aged Care, her first reaction was “but I know nothing about business accounting!”.
She soon discovered the Board already had plenty directors well versed in that area.
“They were really in search of someone with a different set of skills to add to the mix. Some female skills too,” she said.
Carryn was born in South Africa and lived there until 2011 when the family decided to move to Australia.
“As beautiful a country as South Africa is, it has its issues and we wanted a safer environment and better educational options for our children,” she said.
Carryn and her family were involved with various missionary projects in South Africa, and worked to provide community centres and support those who were most at risk, including AIDS orphans and the “goggos” (grannies) who care for them.
“We were able to show them Gods’ love by reaching into their communities and helping them,” she said.
Leaving their home was terribly sad and quite traumatic for them, and arriving in a new country was terrifying, yet exciting.
However, she discovered leaving South Africa didn’t mean she would have to stop helping the most vulnerable in the community.
“In Australia, our elderly are an “at risk” group and through Christadelphian Aged Care we have the opportunity to touch their lives with God’s love,” Carryn said.
There are now nine directors on the Board, who are all volunteers, and are responsible for the governance of the organisation and make strategic decisions in compliance with legal and regulatory obligations.
Carryn comes from a strong background in behavioural research, and worked for Unilever in their marketing department.
She then went on to lecture in behavioural science and communications at college.
“I had always done a bit of counselling on the side so when we moved to Australia I opened up my own practice specialising in relationships,” Carryn said.
After visiting a number of Homes and Villages, she is heartened by how the organisation cares for people from all walks of life, including those without money.
“We have residents who come to us from hospital sometimes with nothing more than the hospital gown they arrive in,” Carryn said.
“I heard a story of one lady who, on arrival, quietly declined the cup of tea she was offered saying ‘I am sorry but I have no money to pay for it’. That just breaks my heart.”
“How wonderful that we can welcome them in to an environment that will keep them safe and care for them as long as they need,” she said.
One of Christadelphian Aged Care’s core strengths was its ability to provide emotional support to everyone in its care, through the Pastoral Care program and volunteer base, Carryn said.
Pastoral carers and volunteers spend time talking with residents, sharing their life stories, and walking with them in the resolution of their concerns.
This provided an opportunity for everyone to show God’s love in practical ways, she said.
“How wonderful that we have volunteers who will go in to visit them, hold their hand and listen to their story.”
“Surely this is what Jesus had in mind when he told us to love our neighbour,” Carryn said.
Everyone in the community had the opportunity to use the organisation to affect real change, and bring joy and comfort into the lives of others, she said.
“I would love for our community to grab this opportunity to extend God’s love to all these people in our Homes.”