I’d like to brag a little about someone special named Claire. I have known her well for about a year now, since we started studying together, and she really is one in a million. At any point during the last year I’ve known that I could go to her for anything and she would always have time for me, even though she was busy being a wife and mom as well as a full-time student.

Claire’s beautiful little daughter Sofia just turned two years old on the 12th of December But just more than a week after that everything went wrong and the world was turned upside-down when Sofia passed away by drowning while on holiday. It was the 20th of December 2014, exactly seven weeks ago as I write this and just five days before Christmas. Sofia was an only child and her passing left her mom completely devastated.

But Claire, being the Claire we know and love, refuses to let her grief have the better of her. She has done an incredible thing and founded a non-profit organisation called Starfish for Sofia. This organisation aims to raise funds so that children aged 0-3 can attend survival swimming classes, where they learn what to do should they fall into a body of water – to turn on their backs and stretch their limbs out (like a starfish) until they are able to be rescued. Claire says that if she can save just one life and prevent one parent the heartbreak that she is going through, she will have done Sofia’s memory justice.​

In the five weeks since she has started the organisation, she has been working non-stop and the support and response has  been overwhelming. From ordinary people to mothers and fathers who have lost their children to drowning, to celebrities and swimming schools, to businesses and other organisations. There were an alarming number of drowning incidents this past festive season and we can all help to prevent any more from happening.

I think that what Claire has done is absolutely amazing, and I couldn’t be prouder or more blessed to be her friend.

Michelle van der Berg


[To find out more about Starfish for Sofia and how you can perhaps get involved in supporting it, click here]

[For another post on someone giving hope to many young children in South Africa, click here]

Also who is someone that YOU think is doing something positive in South Africa that gives you hope. Drop me a line at and let’s talk about how you can get their story up here…