“When you are passionate about something, you will find the energy within yourself,” says 32-year-old Joy Conradie, passionate project coordinator and dedicated mother of four. The Umgeni Community Empowerment Centre operates eight diverse programmes within KwaZulu-Natal communities, which means that, on any given day, Conradie could be taking sick toddlers to the doctor, running the crisis centre, applying for funding or combing the streets at night to offer hope to sex workers. Although she dabbled in hospitality, IT and events management, Conradie eventually found her calling in 2008 as the backbone and project co-ordinator of Umgeni. Earlier this year she was also closely involved in the rescue of 16 young women from a human-trafficking ring in the Durban city centre. It’s an emotionally and physically taxing job, but one she cannot live without. “You’re driven by the compassion you feel for the people you are giving aid to,” she says.
— Lisa Steyn