A kitten cured my depression


Depression is a slow suffocation. It’s a silent affliction that wears away at who you are, taking more each day. Irene Schempers suffered from the illness for most of her life, until she stumbled upon a desperately sick stray kitten. She took the animal home and nursed it to health, and in the process healed herself. It was for Nitro, the first among many adopted pets, that Schempers took on her fear of the limelight.

After the cat passed away later in life, Schempers founded an NPO, CatSnip, to care for feral cats and curb the growth of their populations through sterilisation. Although naturally shy, Schempers entered apageant to raise funds for her organisation. Comfort was an age away as she stepped out on stage before an expectant audience, but she had to go through with it. In contention for the title of Mrs. Polokwane, she stood the chance of winning valuable aid for the NPO. She owed her best effort to the animals relying on her, because they saved her life.

The annual pageant is not a beauty contest. It gives married women the opportunity to stand for causes that can change their communities for the better. Motivated by the healing power that time spent with animals can bring, Schempers overcame her fear and won the event. In doing so, she not only earned prize money, but the chance to show young women what they can achieve. Her service to the community extends to her Pink Teacup Initiative, which provides girls with menstrual cups and educates them about their bodies. Mrs. Polokwane is making a difference.