Bergzicht Training and Development recently said goodbye to its volunteer social worker and Stellenbosch resident, Annette Scott, who will be relocating to Cape Town. Annette has been volunteering her services at Bergzicht Training and Development since 2015 by offering wellness support and mentorship to beneficiaries studying at the NGO as well graduates in their first few months of employment.

Over the last two and a half years, she has assisted more than 100 individuals with various challenges in their lives that have in the past prevented them from completing their studies. She has also ensured that a number of students who need additional support are able to obtain it from organisations like Good Hope Psychology Services at Stellenbosch Hospital.

During her time at Bergzicht Training and Development, Annette became known for her Chatterbox, a yellow teabag tin which allowed beneficiaries struggling with various challenges in their lives to connect with her for support in an unobtrusive manner.

“The Chatterbox allows students to remain anonymous and to not feel exposed when seeking support,” explained Annette at the time.

“Many of the students that I see come from broken homes where there is also neglect, while some live in environments where there is a complete lack of a support structure and where drug and child abuse have taken place or is still taking place. Others are rape survivors or carry huge financial burdens, with many also bearing the added responsibility of taking care of family members.”

With these pressures weighing heavily on them, many students are unable to fully apply themselves to their studies.

Annette would however visit Bergzicht’s offices nearly every day of the week to clear the Chatterbox  filled with slips of paper with the names and contact details of beneficiaries and call each one to schedule an appointment with them.

For many of those students “Tannie Annette’s” assistance has made a world of difference in their lives and have helped them to make proper use of the study opportunities offered by Bergzicht Training and Development as well as find permanent employment thereafter.

Chalemien van Rooyen, one of Bergzicht Training and Development’s alumni, who had benefited from Annette’s guidance, said that Annette had become like a mother to her after her own mother passed away three years ago.

“I want to thank Annette, because it is because of her support, that I am here today and that I’ve changed my life. She always pushed me and said ‘you can do this’ and ‘you should go for that’ [opportunity] and that is one of the most amazing things about her.”

Staff members at Bergzicht described Annette as an inspiration, a woman who nurtured self-confidence in those she supported and who was willing to do whatever was needed to help students succeed in their goals. According to Bergzicht Training and Development CEO, Ms Renske Minnaar, Annette has become “indispensable to the organisation”.

“We value the contribution that she has made to help us provide disadvantaged South Africans with market-related skills that will help them find employment and transform their lives and that of their families. We will never forget Annette. She is the kind of person that will always remain in our hearts,” said Renske.

At her farewell, Annette said that she would miss all the beneficiaries and the impact they had made on her life.

“Every day that I came to Bergzicht Training and Development, I looked forward to coming here, because I left here – yes, sometimes in tears because I had no idea what to do to help a student – with so much more than I arrived here. I was filled with something I did not expect to receive. This place is about people, sharing love and making time for each other and it is something I received here every day. I’ve come to realise just how important those things are.”

Photo: Annette Scott (middle) with two of the beneficiaries, Lerize Visser (left) and Chalemien van Rooyen (right), of many with whom she has formed close bonds during her time as a volunteer social worker at Bergzicht Training and Development. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)