Nonagenarian grateful for her years

Alice Samuels, 90, from Eastridge, loves her garden.

By Fouzia van der Fort

An Eastridge nonagenarian says her love for reading and education helped her climb up the work ranks.

Alice Samuels, who celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday, Tuesday November 2, also put her only granddaughter Mariam Davids, 44, through university.

Ms Samuels was raised at Heatherdale Children’s Home, in Belgravia.

Her mother died when she was about two years old and her aunt decided this was the best place for the young Alice to live.

To her it was a horrible place, where she said only those with “pretty faces and straight hair” flourished.

“I led a spiritual life. I am fond of my church and I raise my hands to God for all that I have and need,” she said.

Ms Samuels worked as a domestic and her clients took her in as a family member.

It is with them that she found a love for reading and soon became a matron’s assistant at the orphanage.

She took up a typing course and was able to secure a job at an engineering company, in Paarden Eiland, where she worked until the age of 79.

Ms Samuels started as a tea girl, promoted to filing clerk and office manager, then a receptionist, switchboard operator and was in the end able to do any task asked of her.

“I did not retire but was retrenched, when the company became defunct,” she said.

Ms Samuels moved into their Eastridge home 40 years ago, after praying to God for a house where she helped her son Michael Isaac Samuels, raise his daughter.

Ms Samuels waited eight years for a house and she got it without bribery.

Today her great-granddaughter Lamees Manewyk and her family live with her.

“My teacher taught me ’more things are wrought with prayer’. If you want something you must go for it. Don’t wait for handouts. Make an effort yourself and don’t depend on other people,” she said.

English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson is said to have written these words.

Her secret to longevity is to, “Trust in the Lord. Be true to yourself, have faith in yourself and put in the work.”

“I love reading and education is important,” she said.

She had registered her granddaughter at UWC and two other colleges. Ms Samuels lost the deposit at the university because of protests. Despite the setbacks, Ms Davids is an employed management graduate.

Ms Samuels loves her garden, with blooming flowers, fruit trees and some vegetables to sustain them.

“I talk to my garden. I ask God to give me food, when things are tough,” she said.

She also prayed before going to vote on Monday November 1, when she did not make her cross for same political party at the previous general elections.

Ms Samuels has a granddaughter, three great-grandchildren and a great-great grandson; and her neighbours have adopted her as their honorary grandmother.