Sthembiso Mkhize and Shamsunisaa Miles-Timotheus present at ISQOLS Conference

  • Date of publication: 15 September 2023

The GCRO's Sthembiso Pollen Mkhize and Shamsunisaa Miles-Timotheus, embarked on a remarkable journey to the Netherlands on the week of the 21st of August 2023, where they seamlessly combined academic endeavours with enjoyment in a truly memorable way. Their week-long adventure was marked by successful presentations at a prominent conference, the 2023 International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) Conference and delightful explorations of the beautiful Dutch landscapes. Mkhize and Miles-Timotheus are much-valued members of the survey implementation team responsible for the seventh iteration of the Quality of Life survey, a major social survey that is commissioned by GCRO every two to three years in Gauteng.

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Conference name tags

The dynamic duo arrived in Rotterdam with a dual purpose - to showcase their expertise and the GCRO’s work on the Quality of Life survey at the ISQOLS conference as well as to discover the beauty of the Netherlands (especially since it was their first visit). The 2023 ISQOLS Conference provided them with an ideal platform to share their insights on cutting-edge topics in their respective fields. Additionally, the conference not only allowed them to exchange ideas with experts from around the world, but also gave them an opportunity to promote the GCRO on a global stage.

Mkhize presented his work on the relationship between depressive symptoms and socio-economic status among Gauteng youth since 2017/18. His findings suggest the importance of promoting mental health and well-being through setting a long-term path to economic growth for youth, especially those who come from areas with low- and middle socio-economic statuses.

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Mkhize delivers his presentation

Miles-Timotheus delivered two presentations. One paper delved into the effects of childhood sexual violence exposure on the overall quality of life of adults living in Gauteng, while the other explored the extent to which the sex of the household head is important for the overall quality of life of the respondent. Her research findings in the first paper indicate that individuals who were exposed to childhood sexual violence are more likely to have a lower quality of life notwithstanding their socioeconomic status.

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Miles-Timotheus delivers her first (oral) presentation

"This marked my third attempt to participate in this conference. My initial attempt was prevented by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and the second time, I faced the setback of not obtaining my Visa on time in 2022. However, they say the third time is a charm, and indeed, it was worth the wait. I had the privilege of engaging in an inspiring conversation with Professor Valerie Møller, a pioneer of Quality-of-Life studies in South Africa", Mkhize remarked.

Miles-Timotheus, equally excited, had the opportunity to meet the renowned sociologist, Professor Ruut Veenhoven, whose extensive contributions to the field of happiness and quality of life are widely acknowledged.

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Left to right: Miles-Timotheus and Professor Ruut Veenhoven, Mkhize and Professor Valerie Møller

In between their conference commitments, Mkhize and Miles-Timotheus also explored the inner cities of the Netherlands, from Schiedam to Amsterdam. They explored iconic destinations such as the historic cities of the Netherlands, where they marvelled at the beautiful and attractive canals and visited world-famous old buildings and churches. Their adventure continued beyond the capital city as they ventured into the serene landscapes of the Netherlands.

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Miles-Timotheus in front of Pauluskerk in Rotterdam

Miles-Timotheus shared, “The seamless integration of sustainable practices into Dutch daily life left a lasting impression on me. The country's commitment to environmental conservation and green transportation options was inspiring and served as a valuable reminder of the importance of prioritising sustainability in our pursuit of a better quality of life, which is something the GCRO strives for.”

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Mkhize in the streets of Dortrecht in the west of Netherlands

Mkhize concluded by saying, "Our time in the Netherlands was not only professionally rewarding but also personally enriching. We returned to South Africa with valuable experiences, an open mind and a deeper appreciation for Dutch culture and heritage."

Mkhize and Miles-Timotheus left a mark of excellence at the 2023 ISQOLS conference and departed with hearts full of admiration. After having connected with experts from around the world and establishing relationships with fellow academics in their respective fields, they eagerly anticipate future collaborations. Their story serves as an inspiration for others to seek opportunities for both professional growth and personal adventure.

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Last image taken by Mkhize at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, just prior to departing for South Africa

For more information on their papers, please contact Sthembiso ( or Shamsunisaa (


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