WEEK 11: 52 STORIES OF INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN

From Apartheid to Empowerment: A Physiotherapist’s Journey

This is Prinola Gurie’s Story

WELCOME TO WEEK 11 of 52 Inspirational Stories of Women! The project is designed to recognize 52 inspiring Women, celebrating the everyday women who make a difference in our lives. 

WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?

Born in Durban, South Africa, during apartheid, I was raised by two dedicated schoolteachers. As a child, I quickly learned that skin color determined where you could swim, sit, play, and learn. My parents, instilled in me the importance of language and education as a means to transcend racial divides. The words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” resonated deeply in my life and became my mantra.

In 1993, with apartheid ending, I moved to Cape Town to study healthcare, encountering the harsh realities of gang violence, severe burns, workplace injuries, and the HIV/AIDS crisis. Clinical work in informal settlements showed me the resilience of the African spirit. These experiences fueled my resolve to help heal a damaged nation.

When my parents emigrated to Australia, I stayed behind to complete my studies. Life alone was tough, with long hours, limited communication, and navigating a challenging public transport system.

At 21, I started as a physiotherapist in Durban. My boss’s advice to “wear something pretty” and market myself to doctors highlighted gender challenges in healthcare. Despite this, I found joy in helping others and was grateful for my education. My journey included a tuberculosis diagnosis, further studies, and an academic career teaching young people from communities of color.

In 2006, my husband and I moved to Australia with our infant daughter, reuniting with my parents. Continuing my healthcare career in occupational health and injury management, I saw parallels to South Africa’s racial divides but appreciated Australia’s safety standards. Advancing professionally, I relied on knowledge and integrity rather than appearances. Alongside my career, I raised three daughters, staying true to my values and finding joy in helping others and building impactful systems.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

As a Physiotherapist turned injury management consultant, I help individuals navigate the complexities of medical treatment, claims, and insurance after workplace and motor vehicle accidents. Drawing on extensive experience, I founded the iPrana Health Group—”iPrana” meaning “I am energy.” My team and I assist injured people in regaining their health, lives, and ability to work. There’s nothing scarier than being unable to work due to injury or illness, uncertain about recovery.

Experiencing socioeconomic disparities firsthand, I am driven to ensure everyone has equal access to health and recovery resources. I believe in empowering individuals to lead their own health journeys, regardless of their background.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU?

The deafening sound of fear and injustice. Once you see things, you can’t unsee it. My silence and inaction will only support that which I do not believe in.

So I do what I can where I have been planted. We need to do more than the generation before, for the generations to come. I consider myself privileged though many might not agree. I don’t come from generational wealth. I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve achieved but I was not underprivileged. I had electricity and running water.

So I live by the words of Nelson Mandela, Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. I’m doing just that in my corner of the world.

HOW DO YOU STAY INSPIRED?

Through meaningful connections and a clear sense of purpose. Enjoying wine and good company helps, but what truly sustains me is continuously re-evaluating what defines me.

As a mother, I am my daughter’s first role model. In my industry, I mentor young professionals who look up to me. My husband and I share a journey of creating a meaningful life for our children. Ultimately, I stay inspired for my future self, striving to live a life of purpose, make a difference, and honor the sacrifices of those who came before me.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Understand yourself independently of others and define what making a difference means to you. Master your craft and know your competitors. Embrace education beyond formal learning, including life experiences and acquired skills. Use your knowledge as a strength.

Ask for help and delegate; doing everything yourself is exhausting. Surround yourself with supportive, inspiring people and let go of those who don’t align with you.

Everyone’s journey is unique, so avoid comparisons. Believe in your abilities—the universe is listening. If you think you can achieve something, you can.

HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF-DOUBT?

More Wine and good conversation helps. When self-doubt appears, I question its origin—was it a social media post or a comment from someone close? A psychotherapist once told me that everything stems from love or fear, and self-doubt is born from fear. Facing it head-on is crucial to moving forward.

I also rise above self-doubt by celebrating my wins, and learning from missed opportunities.

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF WOMEN?

An entire generation of girls learns from the women around them. As a mother of three daughters, I trust their guidance to teachers, role models, and future mentors. We’re in a generation of strong, independent women, but many men haven’t fully adapted to coexistence. Despite the gender gap, progress towards equality is evident.

Women’s ability to lead with love and maintain integrity in male-dominated spheres will define our legacy. My advice to my daughters: “Beauty and knowledge are powerful. Be kind.”

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HOW CAN OTHERS FIND OUT MORE?

Prinola Gurie : Website | Instagram

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    About the Author

    KARINA PAMAMULL

    A brilliant brunette, effortlessly juggling a plate of crispy fries in one hand while gracefully dancing to the rhythm of life with a glass of fine wine in the other.  I’m the ultimate dopamine hunter, always on the lookout for thrilling new experiences.

    I have worn many hats – a professional Dating Coach responsible for countless love stories, a seasoned General Manager, and the mastermind behind multiple events departments. I’ve successfully orchestrated over 500 events, each one a unique tapestry of connection and celebration. From conferences, and elegant soirées to heart-warming gatherings, each with its own unique story.  I am the successful author of a book called ’52 Stories of Kindness’ with more than 500 copies sold.

    All these fabulous experiences showed me the power of true connections and acts of kindness. They inspired me to create a space where women can uplift, support, and empower one another. WingWomanTribe – the home for women to find friends, connect, and grow with a tribe where they feel fully supported. #liveyourwishlist

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