Bergzicht Training and Development alumnus Denise Windvogel always imagined that she would become a teacher or work in the medical field when she finished school. However, while she was in matric, she fell pregnant and ended up failing matric as she struggled to balance being a single mother with her studies and looking for work. There was also no money for her to continue studying.

“I had to redo all my subjects the following year. After matric, I stayed at home for six months. When my father was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in 2011, it really hit our family hard as he could not work,” she says.

However, Denise was able to find work at a local creche.

“My mother and I had to work in order to keep our household going.”

While working at the creche, Denise was offered an opportunity to do an Early Childhood Development course.

“I was hoping to work at a creche or primary school after I completed the course, but we were informed shortly after that that all our certificates had gone missing. So I had no proof that I completed the course.”

Then she heard about Bergzicht Training and Development from a friend.

“I wasn’t sure if I would stand a chance to get into their health and frail care programme, but I decided to try. I was interested in health and frail care because I developed a love for the profession when I looked after my father.”

It was hard to find a way to overcome the obstacles that were standing in her way once she was accepted for the HWSETA-accredited Health and Frail Care Programme. She would have to travel from Franschhoek to Stellenbosch each day and it would be expensive.

“I had no money and it was difficult to pay R600 to R800 per month for transport. So I worked at one of the local farms for two months to save the money before I started the programme. I also received a lot of support from my parents. They were my pillars of support and helped to take care of my son so that I could study for tests in the evenings.”

Denise’s persistence paid off. She earned a certificate in Health and Frail Care from Bergzicht Training and Development and is currently working as a frail care assistant at the Fleur de Lis Old Age Home in Franschhoek where she also did her practical.

“I learn very quickly and adapt to new routines really fast. I was appointed while I was still doing my practical training. The staff at the old age home were really helpful. When I did not understand something, they helped and also answered all my questions, and trust me, I had many questions,” she says and laughs.

She’s thankful that she was able to pursue her goal through Bergzicht Training and Development.

“The staff at Bergzicht Training and Development were really nice and they taught me to always put the needs of my patients above everything else and to do your work to the best of your abilities. I also learnt to believe in myself. I have always been shy and did not like speaking in front of an audience. Except that they taught me to speak in front of an audience, they also taught me to speak up when I had a problem and that it was okay to not always agree with everything.”

Photo: Bergzicht Training and Development alumnus Denise Windvogel with the Health and Frail Care Programme certificate she received at her certificate ceremony.