For 12 years, Betty Mahamba worked as a diamond cutter. Moving between Cullinan and Cape Town, she spent hours cutting and polishing rough diamonds, working hard until each one glittered and reflected its maximum light.
Betty had always wanted to be a Human Resources practitioner. She loved understanding and working with people. Unfortunately, her family could not afford the high tuition fees after high school. And so, she went straight to work in the diamond industry.
Towards a different kind of diamond cutting
In 2016, Betty heard about SmartStart from a friend. SmartStart was running some activities at her local community hall. Having always loved children, Betty came along to learn more about the programme, where she was invited to attend the next SmartStart Matching Day. Here, she excelled in her assessment and progressed to the five-day StartUp training.
In January 2017, only two months after the training, 34-year-old Betty opened her first SmartSpace at home. By August 2017, she had grown her group from six to ten children and hired a SmartStart trained assistant.
Reliving diamond days
Through SmartStart, Betty finds herself re-living her diamond days. Only now, she is shining much more precious diamonds – children. She spends hours helping each child achieve their full potential, working hard until they shine their brightest.
Just as in diamond cutting, Betty takes the time to plan, shape, polish and inspect. During story time, she encourages each child to tell their own stories, interpret the world around them, and learn more about the objects that come up in all the different stories. As she does this, she carefully observes each child, looking for those who might be struggling to understand or follow along. She then plans her programme around these needs, ensuring that each child gets the attention and care they need to develop at the right pace.
Giving every child the power to shine
Betty ensures that every child is given the power to shine. While another SmartStarter in her area tries to grow her playgroup of two children, Betty allows the two children to join her group during certain parts of the daily routine, ensuring they still have the opportunity to learn and interact with others.
The parents in Ekangala, Bronkhorstspruit absolutely adore Betty. They talk often about how she has helped their children grow and thrive. In fact, they wish Betty offered Grade R services too, so that their children could stay with her right up until Grade One.
George Q. Cannon said that children are like diamonds. They may need polish – and education of the right kind will impart this lustre. No one understands this better than Betty – SmartStart’s very own diamond cutter.