Former domestic worker, Rebecca Those always dreamed of becoming a nurse and serving those who were ill.
She came very close to fulfilling her childhood dream when she graduated recently along with 210 others in the Home-Based Care Giver Programme.
In 2009, Those, 39, from Kimberley in the Northern Cape, saw an advertisement in which the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority offered a three-year course in Home-Based Community Care Givers known as the Thogomelo Skills Development Programme.
“At that time, I was working as a domestic worker and also volunteering part time at a local hospice,” she said.
Those enrolled in the programme in 2009 and completed the course with flying colours in 2011.
She said while volunteering, working as a domestic worker and doing her studies, she heard of an opening at the Home-Based Interchurch Women Multipurpose Project which is a local non-government organisation that cares for the sick, elderly, child-headed homes and assists the needy to access government services.
“I was delighted to be accepted to work for this organisation because it did exactly what I dreamed of doing; working with the community and helping them.”
On a typical day, Those and her colleagues conduct door-to-door visits in the community and conduct research on the needs of the community.
“When conducting these visits, we find child-headed homes and we look at assisting them. We do HIV/Aids counselling along with caring for senior citizens.”
Those’s work complements that of social workers in a province where, according to Liz Botes, head of the Department of Social Development in the Northern Cape, there are only 138 social workers serving a population of about 1.2 million people.
“The journey of self-development has started with the Thogomelo Skills Development Programme and it should not stop,” said Botes.
The course looks at care, counselling and support to people living with HIV/ Aids.
It addresses the needs of child-headed households and links families and caregivers with programmes that ad- dress poverty. It also provides trauma and therapeutic counselling.
It looks at how the home-based care worker can provide members of the community with information on how to improve access to social, educational, housing, material and healthcare services.
According to the Northern Cape Department of Social Development, this was the first psychosocial support skills development programme to be registered with the South African Qualifications Authority.
It will provide credits for learners to develop a career path towards a recognised qualification.
It combines psychosocial support and child protection components to address training needs identified by learners.
“Standing up there at the podium and finally graduating after three long years was quite an achievement for me but the best achievement was that I am now equipped with more knowledge to serve the community,” said Those.