So don't be afraid, You are Worth More than Many Sparrows

About Tilulu's Founder

My name is Raylene but I prefer the name Ray. I’m the oldest of four siblings and three half bothers. I was born in South Africa and spent my childhood years growing up in the Coloured Township of Eldorado Park where I also did my schooling. My parents were never married so my mom, my siblings and I all lived with our grandmother who was also a single mom who worked two jobs to put her children through school and college and still made a home for orphans whom she reared. Needless to say, I come from a family of strong single mothers as I too have been one for almost 5 years now.

My home life revolved around a strict Christian background where discipline was practised whenever we stepped out of line, TV was something we hardly watched and we spent most of our time singing, learning or doing house chores. I remember as a small child spending hours underneath my bed reading everything I could get my hands on, that’s if I wasn’t drawing, painting or enjoying the outdoor life in my grans beautiful garden. I come from a very artistic family of musicians and singers. My two beautiful children, Joshua 11 and Skye 5 both have artistic gifts.

My Childhood

As one of the top students at my primary and high school, I excelled in all my subjects but I especially enjoyed Mathematics, Science and Biology and I often achieved 1st place in all my standards. I started writing poetry in primary school and would often draw for my teachers. I found solitude in writing and drawing. It was my way of escaping into my own happy world when reality seemed tensed and uninspiring at times, especially growing up in a home where there were no male role models around.

It’s hard for any child growing up in a broken home, but I always said I would rather come from a broken home, than grow up in one. I didn’t get to see my dad as often as I would’ve loved too. But I can thank him that I never witnessed him abuse my mom or even swear at her. He was there for us and still is to this day and I just wish more fathers would take their responsibility as fathers more seriously. Their absence in their children’s lives leaves devastating consequences for the children who always ends up carrying the weight of their parent’s mistakes on their tiny little shoulders.

My Work & Studies

I left home at the age of 17 in pursuit of a better life because I just needed to get away. I lost my grandmother the same month I turned 14, the same year I started high school. Since we were very close, I guess when she left me, no one else could control me and the pain of losing her so suddenly was way too much for me to bear. She inspired me to do great things and her strict teaching and discipline paid off even though I remember being a very rebellious teenager after her passing at the age of 65.

I got engaged to my ex-husband when I was 17 and moved in with him. Had my first permanent Job at Linksfield Park Clinic when I was 18 years old and stayed there for 3 years after resigning in 1997. I got married when I was 19 yrs old thinking I knew everything. Shortly after my marriage, the abuse, lies and infidelity reared its ugly face but I stuck that out for another 17 years because I suppose a lot had to do with me not wanting my father to say to me, “I told you so” and because I was afraid of the unknown. Not knowing what I would do without him or how I’d survive with my kids on my own, made me stay in a very unpleasant comfort zone.

During those 17 years I worked my way up. I enrolled in Jan 1999 as a full time student at Birnam Business College where I passed bookkeeping with distinctions. I went onto working in finance the following year. I landed my first job as a Buyer in 2001 at KSB Pumps & Valves and I still managed to maintain my position in Finance as well and worked there for 5 years. I found a passion in Procurement and went onto pursuing my career as a chief buyer where I worked at a few companies including doing purchasing for Mining companies in Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe before finally ending up at a division of Actom Engineering where I was employed for 3 years until I resigned in April 2012. I also enrolled at Unisa in 2006 to embark on studying my Bcom in Purchasing and Business Management.

My Life as a Mother

I put my studies on hold for the sake of my son who was 3 years old at the time because I felt I was depriving him of a full time mother and decided I would work my way to the top, which by God’s grace, I succeeded in doing. Both my children are miracle babies as I battled to have kids, so putting my studies on hold to first focus on starting my family was the best thing to do at the time and I don’t regret my decision. I had my son 10 yrs later into my relationship and I was in awe. My daughter was conceived through artificial insemination 5 yrs after Joshua was born.

I left their father when Skye had just turned one. The abuse and torment became too much and I decided I would rather battle it out on my own than to live with an abusive man and I wasn’t going to subject my children to that way of living. It took me losing my house and my car and then resigning from Actom Engineering in April 2012 to realize I haven’t been practising what I preach to my children about using their gifts and talents that God gave them. That’s when I decided I was going to pursue my passion as an artist overseas after my sister-in-law offered me a place to stay and a helping hand in LA. I battled to get my work permit and getting back into Purchasing just wasn’t easy without my car and my heart was no longer into it either. It wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore, and when I couldn’t find work, I realized it wasn’t what I was meant to do.

My Dreams...

Ever since I can remember, it’s always been a life-long dream of mine to start my own foundation to Empower Women and Children. A lot of my own life experiences as a child, an abused woman and a single mom have given me the wisdom and encouragement I needed to embark on fulfilling my dream because I believe now I’m equipped to succeed in helping other’s through using my own experiences, gifts and talents as an artist. I never stopped writing poetry over the years although I stopped drawing before I had kids but started again when Joshua was born since I was teaching my boy the basics of drawing. Now my quiet times are spent sitting and drawing with both of my children. It’s therapeutic for us and it’s so healing for me to watch my little children who’s gone through so much with me, being so focused on their talents that their struggles don’t seem to matter to them when they have a pencil and paper in front of them. It brings joy to my heart and I believe there are plenty kids out there who just needs that quiet time with people who will genuinely care for their wellbeing.

Through my struggles as a child and a woman, I know it has moulded me into the person I am today. Not many abused women get to live to share their stories because they fall victim to their lives being cut short because they were not strong enough to leave or they didn’t have the proper support, help or encouragement to tell them that it’s ok to give up on something that’s just not working anymore. I am here to encourage women and to tell them it’s ok to walk away for their sake and their children’s. I also understand the hurt and pain children feel who grow up in broken homes. The battles and humiliation we go through, the ridicule we must put up with, the peer pressure we go through as teenagers and that turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the hurt and pain isn’t the solution to any of our problems. I’ve watched friends and even my ex-husband destroy their lives because of drug and alcohol abuse. I hardly got any child support from him because of his drug addiction that’s why I lost everything I had, financially I couldn’t cope anymore. My kids also lost a father since I refuse to subject them to more trauma by seeing their father wasting away on drugs.

Comes true...

The driving force behind Tilulu, is my passion to help women and children overcome their obstacles in life and to be victorious over all their trials. Tilulu was established with the vision to help children reach their full potential and to find solace at a place where they will feel safe to express who they are and what they feel. It’s a place where women can come together to embrace their uniqueness as individuals. To help them peel away the emotional debris their callous husbands, partners or any male figure they had in their life, may have left and to help them discover their full potential as women without being affected by the label of being called abandoned or abused but rather to help them discover the power within themselves to rise above all their hardships. Where they can meet other women in similar situations and to help each other heal. I know how it feels to hit rock bottom, where family and friends start disappearing from your life, where you feel you are all alone. During my darkest times, I took refuge in my Lord and found that when I hit rock bottom, He surely was the rock at the bottom and it’s my dream to help others who find themselves in that same situation, to give them hope not to give up but to have faith and believe in a better tomorrow.

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Raylene Williams