The Dr. Nandi Health Hero this week is defined by courage, strength, love and kindness and her name is Judy van Niekerk. Judy was born to parents who fought continuously and regularly used her as a pawn. At the age of 3, Judy went deaf due to psychosomatic issues. She endured operations that hoped to solve the issue, but it wasn’t until she was 11 years old that she started to hear again by sheer willpower. For much of her childhood, Judy endured nearly daily instances of violence of rape and violence. Judy would be drugged by her father to ensure that she would not put up much resistance. Judy’s escape was knowledge and she read books and studied daily as it was her way of forgetting the pain. Plus, the knowledge she gained helped her finally escape the violence from her father. Judy had to leave the country and move to England where she was able to taste life and freedom for the first time. In England, she thrived and survived by using the strength and resilience she learned from her childhood. As Judy continued to discover freedom, she traveled Europe and the Northern parts of Africa alone and finally ended up in South Africa. In South Africa, Judy both thrived and endured more pain with overdoses and another gang rape. Even through all of this, she became more invovled in sports and even represented her adopted country at the World Championship of Scuba Diving.

As she healed herself, she felt like it was time to bring her father to justice and reported him to the Irish authorities. It was a long 3 year investigation and it was finally brought to court. Judy asked that journalists being allowed to report on the event and report all the names involved. It was a history making event in Ireland and helped more incest victims be able to report their incidences. 4 years later her father was dying of lung cancer and Judy traveled to see him. She spent two days with her father where she told him that she loved him and was grateful for him. Judy has turned her troubled upbringing into a positive outlook on life. Today, Judy teaches others to overcome challenges in their life as well as those who feel that
there is more to life than they have been able to tap into so that they too can live masterful lives of love and fulfillment as she does today. Today she is a mentor,and author, she speaks around the world plus she is working to improve the laws against incest and violence against children.

Judy van Niekerk has used her experiences to help others and because of this strength and determination, she is our Health Hero of the Week.

Learn more about Judy at