In August 2020, as part of Women’s Month, Bergzicht Training launched a Facebook campaign, called #WhoIsYourSHero to celebrate the resilience of women.

According to Bergzicht Training CEO, Renske Minnaar, the aim was to honour the women who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that Bergzicht Training empowers each individual it serves, as well as current students who enrol for its programmes and push through in spite of the odds, to alumni who are working hard to reach their dreams.

“This year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the women in our midst proved once again how resilient and determined women can be when faced with a challenge, the creative ways in which they are able to tackle obstacles, and the role they play in communities when disasters like this hit,” said Minnaar.

Some of the women who shared their thoughts during this month included Nathalie Skippers, a registered social worker responsible for Student Mentoring and Support at Bergzicht Training; Ingrid Andrews, Administrative Assistant; Carol Newman, Life Skills facilitator at Bergzicht Training; Ida Snyman, Basic Kitchen Skills facilitator at Bergzicht Training; Lee-Shante Hael(right in the photo) of Kraaifontein, who has completed the Food Service Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Programme; and Linda Mini and Nosipho Nkalitshana from Kayamandi, who both completed the HWSETA-accredited Health and Frail Care Programme.

Lee-Shante, who became unemployed due to the shutdown of the hospitality and tourism industries during the lockdown, has been making a contribution in her community in spite of the difficulties she is also facing.

Shortly after lockdown and having witnessed the impact of job losses on her community, Lee-Shante and two other women in her community launched a feeding kitchen which serves children in their street a warm plate of food or soup every Tuesday and Thursday.

“There is a great need for help in Kraaifontein because work opportunities are so scarce. We started to supply food to the children in our street, but we now also assist two additional streets in our community because most of the people in this area don’t have work and thus cannot buy food,” said Lee-Shante at the time.

She also works with the two women to create programmes for jobless young men to prevent them from getting mixed up in drugs and gangsterism.

Her heroes, she says, are many, but when times are difficult, it is her children who inspires her the most.

“When I look at them, I know that if I give up, there will no-one to give them the drive to achieve their own dreams.”

For Nosipho, who works as a carer, her late mother is without a doubt her hero.

“My late mom really inspired me. She raised me and my disabled brother through hard times while she worked as a domestic worker in the Eastern Cape looking after people’s homes while they were working in the city. She did all that to give us a bright future,” said Nosipho in August.

It is this same tenacity, that helped Nosipho find the strength to complete the work integrated learning component of the HWSETA-accredited Health and Frail Care Programme in 2019 when her home burned down. Today she works for Hospice, offering temporary and private care to elderly and frail patients, and takes care of her disabled brother and her seven- and three-year-old daughters, Inga and Wanda. She also supplements her income by baking and selling cakes.

Ingrid, who is known amongst staff and beneficiaries at Bergzicht Training as a kindhearted, caring soul who inspires beneficiaries to aspire to greatness, was and continue to be a pillar of strength for many of the students, especially as the country continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. She also stepped into the role of COVID-19 Compliance Officer at Bergzicht Training in June.

Asked about the women who inspire her, Ingrid said at the time: “At work, at home, in my family and in my friendship circle, I am surrounded by strong women – women that know how to stand up for themselves and fight for others. Perseverance, endurance and passion are what they have taught me.”

For Nathalie, it is the alumni and their achievements that she admire most: “It’s very heartwarming to hear how our alumni’s progress and transformation impacts others positively and how it encourages others to do better. The ripple effect it has on society is overwhelming. As Diane Mariechild says: “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”

Photo:Lee-Shante Hael of Kraaifontein, who became unemployed due to the shutdown of the hospitality and tourism industries during the lockdown, has been making a contribution in her community in spite of the difficulties she is also facing. Here she is serving food to one of the children in her street.