Sandy Oostendorp-Davids, from Portland, loves creating word puzzles but her word searches are more than just fun – they are aimed at empowering.
“There is a teaching moment in my puzzles so that we can continue to empower and equip ourselves with knowledge and information. I love puzzles because it’s interesting and it’s fun to do. It also helps you remember things,” she said.
Ms Oostendorp-Davids is channelling coaching and mentoring background in to the puzzles which are all themed. The upliftment of women and girls and theology are two themes that are very dear to her and recur frequently in her puzzles.
Currently she ministers with Destiny Changes Difference Makers NPO in Portland.
“Puzzle-making is a tool that can be used to empower people”, she said.
Her love for puzzles started in childhood through reading. Growing up in District 6, she loved reading. This helped her spark the puzzle-making.
She also experienced the forced removals in District 6.
“I was in my matric year when we were told we needed to move. The lamenting and trauma that went with it, was difficult,” she said.
“It was a beautiful, vibrant community. Being sent to a place that we didn’t know, we were in disarray,” she said.
Her family moved to Hanover Park in 1972.
“We were divided as a family. The council at the time did not want us together. Through the grace of God they survived,” she said.
They moved to Mitchell’s Plain in 1977, where she still lives and started designing puzzles in 2009.
“It’s putting thoughts into action,” she said. “It takes a lot of commitment to plan and strategise puzzles. To actually do the pre-planning and designing, is fun yet challenging. If you love something and you want to pursue it, you need to train your mind to stay the course and be committed.“
Initially she generated the puzzles online but it cost a lot of data and was frustrating, she said.
“I had to put my mind to it and I finished it, created my own puzzles. If you persevere you can succeed,“ said Ms Oostendorp-Davids.
She sent some of her drafts to friends and family, they said it wasn’t difficult but they learned “so much”, she said.
Her husband, John Davids, said the puzzles were interesting and that the theology puzzles helped him understand and research the Bible more. He also passed the puzzles on to friends.
Her niece, Laurenda Haggland, said the word searches are amazing.
“It is very informative and fun. You can learn so much through her puzzles,” she said.
And, if she wasn’t busy enough, she also writes.
“I would like to form a network of writers and creatives as well as connect with people who are more experienced in the field. This would be to inspire people to write and be creative,” she said. “It’s important to create a space like this where we can connect and people can discover their creativity. Your purpose and your calling is a touch to your destiny,” she said.