In 1994, Vanessa Goosen had a bright future ahead of her; she had reached the semi-finals of the Miss South Africa beauty pageant and her modelling career was in full swing...
She decided to explore her passion for clothing and design, opening an exclusive clothing boutique for men in Johannesburg. On recommendations from a friend, Vanessa decided to board a plane to Thailand to source select items for her new and exciting business venture.
On the 10th of April 1994, Vanessa embarked on a journey which she believed would be the first of many adventures... gladly obliging, Vanessa agreed to kindly collect two engineering books on behalf of her then boyfriend's friend whilst in Thailand... She gave it no second thought until she reached the airport with the intention of returning home... when everything went horribly wrong... and she landed up in a Thai prison for almost twenty years!
Reunited with her family now, Vanessa's struggles are far from over; she is constantly forced to confront the emotional and physical scars of her imprisonment in a harsh Thailand jail. In her talks, Vanessa shares her story of defeat, hope and triumph in her quiet but thrillingly inspirational way.
Her best-seller, Drug Muled, which was authored by journalist, Joanne Joseph, has been in the top three best-sellers for non-fiction each week in Nielson's Ratings since its release in April 2013.
Vanessa has been speaking for two years professionally - she starting speaking after she was released whilst she worked for an NGO, scribing her experience for her book: "After the book was released there was a demand for me to share my experience and that's how the demand increased for me to be a motivational speaker," she says.
"Even though I spoke at corporate and government functions before my book was released, it was only after the release of the book that the demand increased ... People that hear me speak are the greatest marketers not just for my book but also for me to speak at more functions."
The one thing Vanessa loves about talking to various people is the response and the feedback that she receives from the different audiences... "how their lives have been positively influenced."
"It is a true experience which nearly took my life as I speak from the heart," she says. "I have learnt since my return that people are obsessed with reality television and what happens in other peoples' lives... many people also want to know how I survived my situation and they also want the 'keys' I learned to successfully endure the experience."
Vanessa believes that her professional speaking career has healed and strengthened her "to go out there with a purpose to have a positive influence on others". If not for her speaking opportunities, she believes that she would be a businesswoman, pursuing her passions in the fashion world - "which will also enable me to support orphanages, the underprivileged and to make a difference to someone else's life," she says.
Although she enjoys what she does, she used to push herself very hard until she burnt out; she had to learn how valuable it is to relax and to stay focused - "life needs to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest with wisdom and that there must be a balance," she says. Vanessa is completely satisfied when her work is done to the best of her ability.
Some things you may not know about Vanessa:
She grew up in Port Elizabeth until the age of 11 where she moved to Johannesburg.
She was a very ambitious child; she worked up to three jobs while at high school.
Her hobbies include walking in nature.
Jesus and "all people who rise up above their situations", are her heroes.
In her spare time, she reflects on what she has been doing and if she is happy about what she has achieved thus far ... She also enjoys watching movies and being outdoors.
Vanessa does volunteer work on a monthly basis; she does a pro-bono talk for a church or a community.
The song that best describes her is 'I believe I can fly' from R. Kelly.
When she's alone in her car, she thinks of her past, present and future...
Vanessa strongly believes that anyone interested in pursuing professional speaking needs to ask themselves the question: 'Why do I want to do it?' then to ask yourself, 'What is my purpose, my 'aim'? What is it you want to talk about? Does it bring you joy?"
Vanessa has been heard on 5FM with Gareth Cliff, SAFM with Ashraf Garda, Jacaranda with Riaan and Ashley Hayden, Good Hope FM, Radio Today, Radio 2000 and Kaya FM.
She has been seen on 3 Talk with Nolene (twice), Morning Live with Leanne and Vuyo, Great Expectations, Kwela, Wat Mense Se Met Jani du Plessis, Against All Odds - e.tv, Kruisnet.
Vanessa is available for motivational and inspirational talks through Speakers Inc:
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