An opportunity to care

The caregivers showing off their new uniforms with Sister Treska Botha and donor Constantia businessman Cliff Warren.

A training course has offered unemployed women from Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu an opportunity to become caregivers and nurses.

Thanks to support from private donors and the Robin Trust – a non-profit organisation that provides home-based care and training – the women are working towards being fully qualified home-based carers trained in wound care, general nursing care, sexually transmitted infections and basic first aid. They have also had lectures on life skills, health, safety and preparing CVs.

Sister Treska Botha, who runs her own nursing practice in Hout Bay, started the search for the home-based carers that she was prepared to train.

“Most of them did not finish school due to lack of money, encouragement and other adverse circumstances. Here is an opportunity for further education and an opportunity to receive a certificate through an excellent curriculum,“ she said.

“We had an overwhelming response, and they are still coming in. We got together and through various obstacles and challenges, these women stuck it out and just kept coming back because they had this burning desire to learn more, know more and be able to obtain an accredited certificate that will provide them an opportunity to be able to work and receive a worthy salary. There is a great need in the community for education and employment,” she said.

Sain-Lee Barendse, a 35-year-old mother of three from Hangberg, found herself in a desperate situation when she lost her partner nearly five months ago.

“It was extremely tough for me, and all I could think of was my children and how I can see to them,” she said. “Things were not easy for me, and I needed to find something stable for me and my family.”

When she heard about the course, she grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

“The course is so interesting. The best part is that we are now doing our practicals at Nazareth House in Vredehoek. What an amazing experience for us to be working with people from all aspects of life: doctors, actresses, advocates and more,” Ms Barendse said. “We are really over the moon to be able to be there to help look after these wonderful people. We are so happy for this opportunity.”

Anyone who wants to do the course can apply. They need to register, write an entry test, be interviewed and pay a course fee.

But many of the women who applied for the course were single mothers who were battling to get by, Sister Botha said.

“Even the course fee was an impossibility for most of them. I got a sponsor for most of their tuition, also a sponsor for their uniforms. A carer will feel worthy and proud and act professionally if she is dressed in a smart and neat uniform.”

With the women now doing their 10-week practical in Vredehoek, they need help with transport costs. They are still under supervision and don’t get a salary yet.

“This opportunity provides them with hope and dignity,“ Sister Botha said. “It reminds them they are worthy and still well capable of studying, learning more and making a difference to their own lives and those of their children… and then of course there is the ripple effect it will have in the community where they can teach all they have learnt.”

Sister Botha said there were plans to expand the initiative to meet the need for well-trained home-based carers in Hout Bay, Noordhoek, Fish Hoek and surrounds. She added that community groups and the government needed to do more support such initiatives.