In 2013, while she was only in Grade 10, Lauren Baadtjies’ mom passed away. Today that loss is what drives her to make a difference in the lives of young children.

“My matric year was very hard, because I felt lost without my mother and started rebelling and drinking to stop the hurt.  I really have no idea how I even passed my matric year, because I was not focused,” says Lauren.

After completing matric, Lauren attempted to continue her studies and approached different institutions. She desperately wanted to enrol for a programme in social work, but none of the institutions she talked to would accept her due to her poor results.

“I felt that I would be able to make a difference in the lives of children through social work by helping them grow up in homes that are stable and supportive.”

Unable to study, Lauren took up a position as a cashier at Spar and later at Pick n Pay.

She also completed a computer course at the Women’s Community Centre in Eerste River while volunteering at the centre. That’s until a friend who also worked at the centre suggested they visit Bergzicht Training and Development to find out what other training opportunities they could access.

“I had also heard about Bergzicht Training and Development from my grandmother who lives in Stellenbosch and my aunt had also completed the hospitality course at Bergzicht Training and Development,” says Lauren who is from Eerste River.

In May 2019, she started the iPOWER (Self-Empowering) Foundation Programme and soon after completed the Child Care Programme, graduating in July.

“I chose Child Care because I wanted to learn how children’s minds work, how they experience things that happen to them and how I could support them as a child carer. It also felt like something that was close to social work, which I am also passionate about.”

“It was so interesting to learn about the different aspects that make up the wellbeing of a child and how a child carer can contribute to developing those aspects to help that child develop into an emotionally healthy person,” she adds.

Lauren completed the work-integrated learning component of the programme at Stratford Primary School in Eerste River.

“It was such an exciting experience for me and really challenged me. Two days after I started, the Grade R teacher got sick and had to be out of school for three days. I had to take over and teach a class of 30 students,” she says and laughs.

“But that experience just increased my passion to work with children.”

Since completing her studies at Bergzicht Training and Development, Lauren has been able to enrol at Boland College in Stellenbosch to study a higher level accredited Educare course.

“I never thought that I would get to this point in my life. When my mother died, I lost my pillar of strength and felt like I had nothing to live for anymore. That’s why I did not try to achieve anything back then.”

“The programme at Bergzicht Training and Development gave me that boost and provided me with the foundation to continue my studies at Boland College. Bergzicht Training and Development helped me gain so much more in my life.”

Photo: Lauren Baadtjies (middle) is surrounded by family members at her graduation at the Child Care Programme certificate ceremony in July 2019.