“Whenever I meet new learners on the first day of their Start-Up training, I see HOPE. It reminds me of my first day at SmartStart. I know that if I made it to where I am today, these learners can also make it. SmartStart has empowered me and now I empower others.
I have learned about the importance of early childhood development. It MAKES a person. It shapes their lives. We are changing the world because we are preparing future leaders. We are making sure that South African children are getting what I never got as a child.”
These are the words of Zanele Ngwenya. She started her journey as an Associate SmartStart trainer in July 2015. In January 2016, she decided to take up a full-time position as a SmartStart Lead Trainer. Over the last 18 months, Zanele has learned to put herself into other people’s shoes. She has developed a new level of selflessness and often finds herself thinking about the future of her learners as well as the future of the children who come through the SmartStart programme.
“I appreciate this opportunity. My job is about quality and making a difference. And… I am now a better parent because I practise everything that I have learned. I feel as though I understand children more and know what it means to liberate them.”
Zanele observes how the SmartStart training develops happy, responsible and confident learners. The materials and activities are structured in a way that can accommodate people of varying levels of literacy. The modules link well, and they are an excellent build up.
“On the first day, we always have participants who have lost hope, who look broken. By the end of the week, they express gratitude and explain that they have found their purpose in life. For some people, training is actually therapeutic as it gives them an opportunity to reflect on their own lives and the way that they parent their own children.”
Zanele continues: “The training moves the head because people learn new things and link this to their past experience. It moves the hand because they acquire skills to make their own toys. And it moves the heart, because they develop a love for what they are going to do.”
Zanele is a valuable and inspiring member of the SmartStart team!