Lauren Baadties(photo) has faced many challenges. In 2013, while she was only in Grade 10, her mom passed away. Seven years later, she is having to adjust her plans slightly as she faces new setbacks to complete her studies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In spite of it all, Lauren is using her loss and setbacks to complete her studies so she can use her skills to make a difference in the lives of young children.

“Due to Covid-19, all our classes were brought to a standstill and Boland College campus was closed for about four months. Since returning to campus, we have only been allowed to attend classes every second day,” explains Lauren.

She is currently completing the N5 level of a higher level accredited Educare course.

Like many others, lockdown was extremely hard for Lauren.

“I felt like giving up and I felt tired. Then my aunt got COVID as well as everyone else in the house except for me. I had to take care of the entire family and my aunt also ended up in hospital. This year just became too much to handle and I felt like giving up,” explains Lauren, who also had to move in the middle of the pandemic.

“It was weird, but it felt like even though I was studying, nothing was going in.”

Yet, in spite of the added impact of lockdown on her studies, Lauren is determined to finish the N6 and final level of her course next year.

She has faced bigger challenges than this before and overcome them.

After completing matric, Lauren 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 worked as a cashier at local retail outlets. 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.

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

“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.”

“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.”