The Hunk with the Heart

Van Riebeeckstrand Primary teacher and Mr SA Finalist Heinrich Gabler. Photos: Supplied

Heinrich Gabler. Photos: Supplied

Heinrich suit and tieVan Riebeeckstrand Primary School teacher and Mr SA Finalist Heinrich Gabler lowers his voice where he sits across from me in the Damhuis restaurant in Melkbosstrand. It becomes tobacco and whiskey. Seductive. I lean over to hear better.

He is talking about love, here, in the bustling restaurant. His love of the children he teaches runs so deep that he wants to tell them every day: “I see only the good in you. I see only what you can really become. I say if I can change one child in a year, then I have been successful that year. I can’t wait to get up each morning. I feed off the children’s energy.”

The words are said so sincerely that one can’t doubt Heinrich. Tanned and muscled, a certifiable hunk, he is also a man with a heart that is as big as the stretch of beach here at Melkbosstrand.

Heinrich and Dawn Jorgensen.

Heinrich and Dawn Jorgensen.

The orphanage
Heinrich’s dramatic youth made him into the man he is now. Had he not grown up in the Andrew Murray orphanage in Wellington he would not have understood young people so well. Had he not wanted so badly to escape from life in the orphanage, he would not have thrown himself into sport, and he would not have ended up where he is today. “A male model, but also a model male.”

The latter are his words, so let’s put them in the right context. Being a finalist in the Mr South Africa competition is about much more than good looks, he tells me. It is about contributing to society and changing society for the better. It’s about being not only “a male model but also a model male.”

"I feed off the energy of the children."

“I feed off the energy of the children.”

Why would anyone even try to be a model human? It sounds too arduous. Flashback to Heinrich’s years in the orphanage, where during his 14th year he ‘hit a dip.’ Being in the orphanage was not the cause, he will say. But perhaps he will be protesting too much. But he did have people who loved him. There was his second mom, Dawn Jorgensen, who welcomed him into her home and with whom he stayed during weekends and holidays.

And at the orphanage he had another second mom, Christa Brits. Being as it may, at his lowest point something happened. “A girl crumpled up a sheet of paper into a ball, and holding it up, said, ‘This is your life now.’ And then she straightened it out and said, ‘This is how your life can be.’” For Heinrich that moment proved to be a game changer. “I gave my heart to God,” he says simply.

Heinrich and Lucinda Burger.

Heinrich and Lucinda Burger.

“I want to give back”
The man sitting across from me does not remotely resemble a crumpled up ball of paper. Heinrich glows with health. His fabulous physique is the result of gymming alongside the school children. When they run, he runs. When they do sit ups, he does sit ups. He’s stopped playing club rugby. It was the force of love, calling him once again. “One is neglecting one’s loved ones,” he says, referring to his relationship with beautiful blonde fellow teacher Lucinda Burger.

One final question: What is your big wish in life? “I want to give back, and start my own non-profit organisation.”
He smiles as if he can’t believe his good luck. As if he can’t believe that he has already started helping other people. “Here is this guy who grew up with nothing…” Heinrich says shaking his head. “One day I want to write a book and call it The Orphan adopted by God.”
To vote for Heinrich simply SMS MRSA036 to 47439.



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