Skip to content

Susan Strauss: When strangers become part of the GWF family

Often, in the busy-ness of life, we focus on being productive, successful and well-put-together individuals. This focus can sometimes give us tunnel vision – we forget that we are part of a greater whole, and that there are incredible opportunities to connect with others, support the well-being of communities beyond our front door and, in turn, gain a greater sense of unity with them.

Sometimes, however, you can get the chance to step back and replenish your own strength by packing a bag, visiting another part of the world, having an adventure, connecting with others at a heart level and supporting some life-changing missions. Take Susan Strauss, for example – a corporate consultant from Florida in the United States who advises companies on their human resources strategies.

Susan’s visits to South Africa are less about business and more about getting a “Mzansi makeover” for the soul. At some point each year on her calendar, she takes the time to hop on a plane to visit her favourite place in the world, Londolozi Private Game Reserve. She trades in the spreadsheets and board meetings for the African sunset and, while at Londolozi, makes time to visit her Good Work Foundation (GWF) family too.

Susan Strauss, Linky Nkuna (former GWF campus manager), Jess Mclarty (Londolozi)
Susan Strauss, Linky Nkuna (former GWF campus manager) and Jess Mclarty (Londolozi).


Susan comes from a long line of teachers, with her mother and both grandmothers also being involved in education. Her own experience as a former teacher ignited a desire to make a difference in the lives of others, but it wasn’t until she was inspired by another friend of GWF, American author and life coach Dr Martha Beck, that she took concrete action.

“I read some of Martha’s books, attended a talk and heard her speak, and it helped me a lot with where I was in my life at the time. She was doing a retreat at the Londolozi Game Reserve in Mpumalanga, South Africa. And so I signed up, but ended up getting cold feet. I was too scared to travel that far by myself and I had never been to Africa. I was just scared, but then I overcame that fear and ended up going the next year,” says Susan.

During her stay at Londolozi, Susan learned about GWF and was intrigued by its mission of bridging the education gap for youth in rural areas. She decided to visit the foundation’s campuses in 2015 and it left a lasting impression, sparking a close relationship that has endured to this day.

“At GWF’s learning centres, I got to observe classes where young children were enthusiastically engaging with subjects like maths and language using tablets, and developing coding skills. Seeing these children who were eager to learn showed me that we would be taking a step in the right direction if we fought to empower our youth through education,” Susan recalls.

Kate Groch, Dave Varty, Susan Strauss
Kate Groch, Dave Varty and Susan Strauss.


Susan’s appreciation for GWF grew as she saw how the foundation worked closely with local communities, schools and families to bring children into their learning centres, witnessing first-hand how the dedicated staff provide access to technology, skills development and opportunities for young people.

“Not only are they improving academic performance, but also assisting older students to earn certifications that lead to better prospects for securing jobs and supporting their families,” she says.

Beyond the educational impact of programmes offered by organisations such as GWF, Susan was also captivated by the beauty of South Africa’s natural environment and by the diversity in our society.

“It was interesting to learn things such as that the country has 11 official languages, whereas where I come from, there’s only one. It was impressive to see that people have a strong sense of community even when they come from various cultural backgrounds. I also admired the harmony between people and nature, especially in the places where they protect wildlife and give animals adequate room to live and roam freely.”

Susan says that her visits to South Africa profoundly enrich her life. By stepping out of her comfort zone and engaging with organisations such as GWF, she has broadened her perspective and gained a deeper sense of purpose.

“Many people are searching for a sense of purpose, often becoming disconnected from the world beyond their immediate environment,” she says. “Travelling to places like Mpumalanga in South Africa provides a chance to break free from routine, challenge misconceptions about what you think you know about a certain part of the world, and find a way to contribute to positive change and offer hope to others.”

Jess Mclarty (Londolozi), Linky Nkuna (former GWF campus manager), Susan Strauss and Maureen Groch
Jess Mclarty (Londolozi), Linky Nkuna (former GWF campus manager), Susan Strauss and Maureen Groch.



Subscribe to our newsletter