SALO tribute to Virginia Brookes:

SALO mourns the loss of their Finance Manager, Mrs Virginia Brookes, wife, Mother, Daughter and close relative to her extended family as well as friend and inspiration to all of us.

Virginia joined SALO as a part-time Finance Manager in May 2010. Of course, as we all knew of Virginia, her being part of the civil society circle in which we met her, she would never simply be a Finance Manager, but would give her heart and soul to her work, even given its part-time nature. She joined SALO with a wealth of valuable and niche experience in Development Partnership funding and management of Development Partnership contracts, which benefitted SALO in terms of its profound work on human security, peace, democratisation, gender and human rights to name but some of the areas of our work.  Virginia was an example on all of these fronts. Equally importantly, Virginia’s work enabled us to develop as an organisation and contributed to SALO’s continued excellent standing for good governance, financial and fiscal responsibilities as well as compassionate commitment to stakeholder groups. Virginia brought so much of her energy, warmth, caring and grace to her role. She really did redefine the meaning of Financial Manager to mean a responsibility that speaks to the very essence of humanity, thoughtfulness and integrity. She was also an expert in her field and we were proud to know her for her Masters qualification and her extensive experience that she shared so generously in her work and in training others, even to international levels. As such, she was respected and appreciated by all our Development Partners and also by our broader constituencies that we serve. The Board and Staff of SALO held her in the highest of regard and admired her for her ability to work within the important systems of societal struggles and challenges while building resilience and insight into those same systems. We also loved her as a human being, a colleague, an activist and a friend.

We were saddened and affected by her illness and continued to keep her in our circle, working alongside the adaptations that she thoughtfully put into practice so that the workings of SALO would continue strongly despite her increasing need to heal and rest. We thank her family for keeping her strong and sustaining us as well during this time of their own great need. We are deeply saddened by her passing and feel the loss keenly, sympathetically and with heartfelt regret for her family and close friends, equally and empathetically, for ourselves as part of bigger conception of family-because that is how she was for SALO-not only colleague but part of the SALO family. We know that she was very brave and an example to us all as she lived through daily pain and struggle. We admire her courage and for her giving us a true sense of what life means in all its intricacies of beauty, fortitude, selflessness, hardships, sensitivity, mercy and joy. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family and wish you the strength and faith as you miss her greatly and yet perceive her release and peace.

While in our circles of development partnerships, funding and civil society, the term ‘charity’ has become old-fashioned and not widely used. Yet, when we think of Virginia, the sincere and essential meaning of charity comes to mind: kindness, a living gift, thoughtfulness, intelligence, deep generosity of spirit and most profound of all, LOVE.

From the Dullah Omar Institute:

“At the Dullah Omar Institute (DOI), we are at a loss with the passing of our Chief Operations and Finance Manager, Ms Virginia Brookes.She joined us when we were still the Community Law Centre (CLC) in 2001, and served the organisation until she retired in August 2021. She personified the values that the CLC / DOI stands for, namely integrity and compassion.The work of support staff, many of them female, who make it possible for researchers, academics and activists to produce, teach and advocate, so often goes unnoticed. Virginia, or Aunty Virginia as she was known to some of us, had a deep passion for NGO work. She expertly managed the funds and operations that enabled the Institute to pursue social justice and steadfast refused to seek the limelight, or take any credit. In the words of Justice Vincent Saldanha, Board member of the Institute: “Virginia has left a strong and an impeccable legacy of integrity and selfless commitment at the DOI and the University”. Prof Steytler, the Institute’s former Director and South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government, remarked: “Virginia was a wonderfully warm person that meant so much to so many people inside and outside the Institute. And over the years she built up DOI’s standing and reputation of financial integrity”. She became an institution at the University, well-known and respected among her colleagues in the central administration, many of whom became her friends. Her contribution went far beyond the Institute because she also served other NGOs, such as the Surplus Peoples’ Project and the South African Liaison Office. Furthermore, she was instrumental, at a national level, in the Sunday School Programme of the New Apostolic Church, and a formidable presence in her community.Another one of her many qualities was her ability to mentor colleagues who pursued a career in administration and finance. She taught numerous eager young minds the ins and outs of finance and administration and equipped these young people for careers at UWC and elsewhere. She enjoyed working with young scholars and students from across Africa, and did so much to help them navigate administrative requirements.Virginia’s legacy of integrity and kindness lives on in Bernard, her husband for 43 years, her four children and five grandchildren.Aunty Virginia, we’ll miss you, but you left us strong and bigger than we were. Rest easy now.”
The funeral is on 28 August 2021 at 10h00 and will be livestreamed from 09h45 onwards. Please click here for the livestream link which will be made available after 4pm today. 
For more information please contact
Keathélia Sapto
Communications Coordinator
Dullah Omar Institute
ksapto@uwc.ac.za