Esethu Qalinge from Kayamandi has experienced long periods of unemployment over the years. However, she’s always been committed to following her dreams.

“When I moved from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, I enrolled at Boland College for their marketing course. I dropped out in 2010, because travelling costs to campus and back were too expensive. While my mother and aunt helped with travel costs, they were not always able to.”

For the next two years Esethu tried to find a job. In 2012, she eventually returned to Boland College in Strand, which was closer to her home, and completed their National N-Diploma: Educare up to N4 level.

Again she found herself unemployed.

“Being unemployed was really challenging, because you always need things like toiletries and while my mother tried to support me as best she could, it wasn’t always possible for her to help.”

In 2013, she found a job at a creche teaching Grade R learners and then became an aftercare facilitator at the Legacy Community Development Centre in Kayamandi.

“I worked with young children providing mentorship and doing home visits to understand the backgrounds of these children to better support them.”

She completed her Educare N5 level while at the Centre. Thereafter she worked for a company that produced the Score Energy Drink and at Eurafruit until the company closed.

One day, while sitting in the taxi waiting to head home, she spotted the Bergzicht Training and Development advertisement calling locals to register for their programmes. She enrolled at Bergzicht Training and Development in May 2019 and in June started the Cathsseta Food Service Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Programme.

“I’ve always had two passions. The one was to work with kids and the other was to work in the  hospitality industry. I felt that by doing the Food Service Assistant programme I could learn new skills and take my skills to another level,” she says.

“I learnt a lot while I was at Bergzicht and The Private Hotel School, but not only about cooking. I learnt about respect for others as well as in how you handle equipment in the hospitality industry. I also came to understand how important punctuality and persistence are, especially when things are not easy.”

Esethu knows exactly how it feels when times are tough. While studying she struggled to pay her rent and put food on the table.

“It was a huge challenge but it never stopped me from doing what I wanted to do. I also had the support of my partner.”

Esethu completed the programme’s work-integrated learning component at the 5-star boutique hotel Majeka House.

“It was very challenging because you are rotated between three sections. I worked in housekeeping, at the front desk and in the kitchen. Front desk was challenging because I had to do so many things like taking bookings, doing night audits, and posting different methods of payment. When I started working in the kitchen as a breakfast chef I had the time of my life.”

According to Esethu, her “life has changed a lot” thanks to Bergzicht Training and Development.

“I would encourage people to go to Bergzicht Training and Development, because there are a lot of opportunities and the staff are really supportive.”

Photo: Esethu Qalinge (far right) poses with other graduates at the certificate ceremony of the Cathsseta Food Service and Food and Beverage Service Assistant Programme held at The Private Hotel School in Vlottenburg, Stellenbosch.