Tribute: The Helen Suzman Foundation Mourns The Passing Of Roshan Arnold

It is with the greatest sadness that we at the Helen Suzman Foundation announce the passing of our beloved administrator, Roshan Arnold.

Rosh 1.jpgRoshan first joined the HSF nine years ago. As Francis Antonie, HSF’s former director notes, “she quickly became the central figure in the social organisation of HSF. Nothing seemed to escape her notice.” That was true whether it concerned visitors to HSF, communications with stakeholders, staff birthdays or catering for events. As Anton van Dalsen recalls, Rosh proceeded on the “assumption that it was unthinkable to have a staff meeting without an array of home-baked muffins and other delicacies, which she herself produced.”

Roshan was the heart of HSF’s Friends of the Foundation – joyfully welcoming new friends and actively nurturing existing friendships. She brought to this endeavour the same customary warmth, humour and kindness as she did during her many years of broadcasting at Radio Islam and work with Life Line.

We, her colleagues, were often the greatest beneficiaries of that extraordinary capacity for friendship. As Sophie Smit remarks, “Roshan celebrated everyone in the office, turning weekly meetings into birthday feasts, and quietly taking care of staff when they needed it.” Christopher Fisher echoes this, saying: “her acts of kindness and words of wisdom betrayed a level of care for me that was unmistakably maternal in its character and effect. I will now treasure various items of Tupperware, unwittingly gifted to me by Roshan, that once contained edible tokens of her affection. She treated me like family and I will forever remember her that way in turn.”

For myself, I am so saddened that I only had a few months to work with Roshan. Yet despite that short time, and her own ill-health, Rosh never failed to convey her concern that I should be settling in well – that the running of HSF should be as seamless as possible, despite the transition, but that I personally should also find a sense of home and family here.

Rosh’s ability to infuse HSF with a feeling of family is reflected also in Thuli Mhbete’s remembrance that Rosh “was like a mother to me and a friend and a shoulder to cry on.” This emphasis on family is no surprise given Roshan’s evident and deep love for her own family. As Francis notes, “her deep commitments to people and the common good were rooted in her family life, and in her unwavering spiritual and religious beliefs.”

Roshan’s husband, Siddique recounts that Roshan was very proud to work with HSF, “so much so that she told all the staff at the hospital that she worked for the HSF.” But it is we at the HSF who take the greatest pride in our association with her – her empathy, kindness and solidarity being values that we must promote and emulate.

We will miss her dearly. Our deepest condolences to her husband Siddique, her daughters, her beloved grandchildren and all her family.