Community inspires Oval North teacher

Mitchells Plain teacher Liesel Fortuin, who hails from Delft, launched her first book at the Erin Hall in Rondebosch.

Oval North Technical High School teacher and author Liesel Fortuin penned her first book, drawing inspiration from her community and her surroundings.

Ms Fortuin, who hails from Delft, has written a book about a young girl being pregnant during matric and all the struggles that come with teenage pregnancy.

She grew up in Ravensmead and attended Ravensmead High School as an Afrikaans-speaking pupil. She studied teaching at the Mowbray campus of Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in 2012, with English, entrepreneurship and biology as her majors. She did her teaching internship at Ravensmead High School and, on completion of her studies, she started working at Oval North Technical High School in Beacon Valley in 2017.

She said she had always wanted to be a geological engineer and loved exploring the art of rocks. However, the results of an aptitude test at Stellenbosch University to determine which career field she should go into had told her that she should be a teacher.

Ms Fortuin said she started reading when she was four years old, with her mom, Doreen, teaching her to read. Her mom would read up to seven books a day and that had inspired Ms Fortuin to read as much as she could. She said she would spend her holidays at the library.

Ms Fortuin said as a student getting to and from campus would mean she would have to drive through Athlone to get to class. She met many people on the bus and heard the stories of the community members while she was on her way to class. The prominent issue that came up around her was teenage pregnancy.

“I had to write a story about this because this is one of the problems that our young people face. I had the story in my head, I just did not know how to get the story out on paper,” said Ms Fortuin.

In 2014, Ms Fortuin wrote her own compositions and poems online on boksie.com. In 2015, she started writing her debut book, Boep; Nie Jou Einde Nie, published in December 2017. “It is weird to me how English was my major, teaching in English, and Afrikaans is my home language, writing my book in Afrikaans.

“Most of the literature as we know it does not speak to the child of today. Teenage pregnancy is the order of the day. At my book launch, everyone agreed that this book should be in the school’s curriculum.”

She came up with the title when she received the design for the cover. The cover, created by Hanli Malan in 2009, shows a school bag with a ruler, a pencil case, a baby bottle and different emoticons on it.

“The semi colon in my title means that the story has not ended yet. There is more to follow. That is put there deliberately. Instead of using a colon that precedes an explanation, I used a semi colon.”

All the characters in the book are figurative. “If the story is true to somebody, then it is merely coincidence,” said Ms Fortuin. “I always knew I would write someday. I am so excited and grateful that I can write a book, one of many to come.”

For more information about how to get a copy of the book, email Ms Fortuin at Lsfortuin@gmail.com