Elizabeth's Story: Graceland's Gem
“We started Graceland with only 6 children. In 1999, I, Elizabeth Solomons started as a teacher. At that stage, I did not have any formal qualifications other than my Grade 6 certificate. I started working at the school in faith that I would do my job well. In 2002, I was offered an opportunity through Thembalitsha Foundation to receive education in early childhood development.
During the next two years, I would take part-time classes at Boland College Strand and complete my Level 4 course in 2004. I am the oldest child of seven children. I grew up on a farm called Morgenhof in Stellenbosch. My first school years started in Cloetesville at Pieter Lange veldt Primary. I went to school up to the age of 12years, at that time we were 5 children already and my younger brother and baby sister were at home, my mother had to go work on the farm with them but had to made the choice of taking me out of school. It was not an easy time for me because I really loved school. Since that time I was looking after them. We had moved from the farm to another farm in Paradyskloof. My dad worked on the farm and my mom in the owner’s house. At that time my mom was pregnant with her sixth child.
The farm owner’s wife asked my mom why am I not in school and she said because she needs to look after her siblings. She told my mom that she must send me back to school and I went back to school at Weber Gedenk Primary in Jamestown, there I was for only one month and a half because on 15March 1990 my mom had her baby, and after three weeks after the baby was born I had to leave school again. I took care of my brother. My dad moved again, this time to Devon Valley. People thought I was his wife because my brother was always by my side and he had to explain that I am his oldest daughter. (this was very funny and a little embarrassing) on this farm Graceland pre-school started.
My brother could go to the crèche and I started working on the farm with my mom. I got tired of working very hard on the farm and decided to look for a nicer job, I got work at a lady that my mom also worked for before, I started with household work for her 2 days a week and kept on working on the farm for the other 3 days.
I met new people on the farm where we stayed, and the people were interested in me and asked if I could look after their children on Wednesdays while they have prayer meetings. I started doing that as well and soon I was working for some of these ladies. Farm work for me was done.
These women that I worked for made me feel like their daughter. They had always talked to me about what I would do in the future and I said I want to work with children. At the age of 21, I got married on the 1 of March 1997 and moved to Eersteriver with my husband I had my firstborn in 1998, 23rd of March and in 1999 I got my first job at Graceland Pre-school as a Grade R teacher. When I started at Graceland I had no knowledge and understanding regarding Early Childhood Development.
Over the years through the support of Thembalitsha Foundation, my knowledge grew and grew. They partnered with me by making sure that I attended every educational teaching course that was necessary to make me the person that I am today, a Level 5 ECD teacher and Principal at Graceland. Thembalitsha not only provided me with a job, but they also helped me discover and develop talents and gifts that I didn’t know was there. For that reason, I am proud to say that I work for the Thembalitsha Foundation.”
How great is her story, this year Elizabeth has been with Thembalitsha for 21 years, can you believe it. She's a true Thembalitsha treasure!