Taking care of children it seems is in Yolanda Kiewiets(photo) genes.

After completing the Child Care Programme at Bergzicht Training and Development in 2019, 35-year old Yolanda now works as a child carer at the Sonstraaltjie Educare Centre in her neighbourhood of Eerste River.
Yolanda has however been taking care of children for much longer than the time she has spent at Sonstraaltjie.

In 2005, Yolanda was living with a mother of seven children who had been in a car accident and had slipped into a coma. The woman’s youngest children were only 2, 5 and 8 years old at the time, so Yolanda stepped in to raise them for the next three years while their mother remained in a coma and then underwent rehabilitation after emerging from the coma.

“I wanted to ensure that they were taken of and that they were given good care and love while their mother was in hospital,” she says.

Taking care of the welfare of children, has always been important to Yolanda. However, after leaving school in Grade 11 due to personal circumstances and without any financial resources to enrol for a child care programme after school, Yolanda decided to find a job. She worked for a catering company for nine years before it closed down and then as a cleaner at DF Malan High School in Bellville.

After completing the Bergzicht Training and Development programme, Yolanda worked at Junior Academy and in February 2020 was appointed as a child carer at Sonstraaltjie where she had also completed her work-integrated learning component in 2019.

A month after starting at Sonstraaltjie, South Africa went into hard lockdown in an effort to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“We were very lucky because our boss, Jean Williams, made sure that we were paid even while the creche was closed and also helped out her employees with other small items. My husband continued working in this time and so we had it much better than many others. While lockdown was hard, we got through it.”

Yolanda returned to Sonstraaltjie in July after the facility was allowed to reopen again. With the creche not yet at full capacity with regards to the number of learners, Yolanda currently oversees a class of two to four-year olds along with another teacher. Between them they rotate the weeks that they are at work and off work.

Even with the challenges this year has posed, Yolanda loves her job.

“It is such a great job, even with the challenges, because the children we work with are so eager to learn. Sometimes they even get impatient when they have to rotate between activity stations and the one group has finished and the other is still busy.”

Yolanda believes that the development she sees in the children she works with at the creche is due to the training she received at Bergzicht Training and Development.

“It is there that I learned that children learn through play. I had never known that.”

“But it is also because of Bergzicht, and particular our facilitators at Bergzicht, that I am in the Educare industry today.”

The connection she feels to Bergzicht Training and Development is very clear.

“One of our dear facilitators, Ms Eleanor, passed away this year and that was such a painful experience because we all loved her so much. Hilary, another facilitator, and Nathalie, a social worker at Bergzicht, also pushed me all the time. I used to be a shy person and didn’t really have high self-esteem, but Bergzicht helped me develop my self-esteem by equipping me with the skills and confidence to do my job without feeling scared.”

Her advice to those who want to work with young children is simple: “A child needs to know that they are cared for and feel safe with a teacher, because if they don’t, they won’t want to be at creche. So it’s important for child carers to make sure they feel that way with them.”

Click here to read the story of Lauren Baadties who completed our Child Care Programme and continued her education by registering for a higher level accredited Educare course at Boland College. With COVID-19 and the lockdown, that dream has been delayed, but even though it’s been hard, Lauren is determined to complete her studies next year