Sarah Gertrude Mary Christina Holland was born on 11 April 1952, in Durban. On 9 February 2010, Holland’s house was destroyed by a fire which claimed the lives of 11 people, including her.

In 2005, she established an orphanage called the Hope in Christ Mission as a non-profit organisation on a farm in Ingogo, northern KwaZulu-Natal. Its main purpose was to provide a dignified homecare service to orphans and abused and abandoned children.

At the time, the structure she was using was nothing more than a dilapidated house with no water, electricity and toilets – which she transformed into a habitable dwelling. She went on to open a school nearby, where she taught rural children from the surrounding area of Ingogo, providing them with a cooked meal at lunch time.

The first child to walk through the doors of Hope in Christ Mission, in 2006, was an abandoned little girl. Thereafter, many children were placed in Holland’s care. They were children from various backgrounds, mostly abused and abandoned. All Holland could do was love them and help them have a second chance in life, and soon enough they started being children again.

The purpose of the establishment was to break the cycle of abuse and neglect, empowering the children with strong family values, love and support. Holland was able to achieve this with the assistance of the Mission staff members.

On 9 February 2010, a fire broke out at the house. She saved six children, including two babies aged three months and two-weeks. She tossed the three-month old through the window. Unfortunately, when she went back inside the house to save the others, she was overcome by smoke and could not save them or herself. When the fire was eventually put out, the heroic Holland was found dead with two small children next to her. She was a selfless woman who dedicated her life to taking care of orphaned children, and ultimately sacrificed her life for them.

In recognition of this heroic, selfless act of bravery, the State President, Jacob G Zuma, posthumously conferred Sarah Gertrude Mary Christina Holland with the Order of Mendi for Bravery in Silver on 27 April 2011.

• Anon, (2011), Presentation Of National OrdersSarah Gertrude Mary Christina Holland, from The Presidency, [online] Available at  [Accessed 5 May 2011]

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