IAM Staff Profile: Alida Bergman

In this monthly series, we hand over the blog platform to IAM’s staff to share their own journeys, stories and insights in their own words. Though our journeys are all unique and individual, many of us share common challenges and dilemmas as we simply attempt to lead our lives as people of faith while loving whom we love.

Alida Bergman holds a B.Com degree in Mathematics and a Diploma in Higher Education University of Stellenbosch. She taught Mathematics and Accounting for 32 years (while managing the school’s finances). Alida joined IAM in September 2013 as Financial Administrator when she retired from teaching.

I was born in Worcester, Western Cape and enjoyed a wonderful carefree childhood. My parents provided a very safe and loving home for me and my two brothers. We were a religious family, and I was brought up as part of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC). We were not rich, but we were provided many opportunities to enrich our lives. Mum and Dad wanted to give us the opportunities that they never had. We knew that we had one chance provided for education, so we took our studies seriously. If we missed that chance we’d have to fight it on our own, so we each worked as hard as we could and did our best. – I loved school and academics, and I was particularly drawn to mathematics and accounting. It was all so logical to me – I just love it when books balance and math problems get solved! Since I was young I’d known I wanted to be a teacher, so after finishing Worcester Girl’s High I enrolled as a B.Com student at the University of Stellenbosch majoring in Mathematics (accounting and economics) I completed my studies by doing a High Education Diploma in my fourth year.

Then real adult life loomed large. My teaching career started in Worcester at the newly coed Worcester High School where I taught the subjects I loved and got involved in supporting learners on the sports fields and also in the Students’ Christian Association (SCA), which held weekly group sessions and camps. Through my upbringing in the DRC, I knew that Jesus died for my sins; I accepted the Lord’s invitation to become His child and I am assured of eternal life, though I sometimes still disappoint our Lord. It was a privilege to share my experiences with learners, help answer their questions, share their hardships and just to be there for them.

After five years, I took up a post at Cradock High School in the Eastern Cape. What a “shock” to be in such a small rural town! The people, however, were wonderful and I fell in love with the place. There I realised that you can be anywhere, it is the friendships that make any situation enjoyable. There I met my husband, Cedric, who is Jewish. At first it was difficult for both our parents and family to come to terms with our differences, but we were eventually accepted and married. We found a way to make the religion part of our relationship work by building mutual respect and understanding, and now both families enjoy each other’s festivities and religious events. I am still part of the Dutch Reformed Church and we raised our daughter and son within the church, yet we also attend religious events such as Pesach and the Jewish New Year and the children have great respect for Cedric’s family and religion. We all have a wider view of religion that makes it easier to accommodate views other than our own.

During my years at Cradock High I continued to teach my beloved subjects and was involved in sports and other activities of the school, and I also started to keep the school’s books (which developed into another passions of mine!) When my husband retired from his optometric practice, we left Cradock, my home for so many years, and moved to Somerset West to be nearer to our children and grandchildren – we are so blessed to be the proud grandparents of a little girl and boy.

I wasn’t yet ready to be a “retired lady”, however! A family friend, Pieter Oberholzer (the founder of IAM) was looking for a Financial Administrator. I met with Pieter and was lucky to be appointed on a part time basis from September 2013. Soon we realised that this position is not so “part time” as we originally thought! IAM has grown so much in the time since I have joined that the financial and donor reporting requirements have become much more demanding. Many new financial reporting systems had to be put into place, challenges that I have enjoyed taking on. I love every bit of my work and would love to keep on doing this as long as the board and IAM team are happy with my work.

Though I am not part of the fieldwork, conferences, events and other activities of IAM, I have learnt such a lot about diversity and homosexuality and the pain that people have to endure because they feel rejected and not part of “normal” life. I believe that God has made every human being to His image and that I must share His love with everyone that crosses my path.

So it is my job not to let the finances of IAM be a worry for the team, and to assist them in planning the budgets and make the payments for their important events, conferences and workshops. Their passion for their work is an inspiration to me and I admire them for the strong message they convey. I am privileged to be part of such a dedicated and inspired team.