Prieska is a small, arid town perched on the banks of the Orange River in the Northern Cape. It’s a place of extremes. Temperatures soar beyond 40 degrees Celsius in summer and plummet to freezing in winter. It’s harsh here, but also starkly beautiful.
Despite its abundance in naturally occurring semi-precious stones, many of the people in Prieska are poor. It’s a tough climate to thrive in, made even more crippling by burgeoning socio-economic challenges.
A diamond in the rough
Meet Morné Boesak, 26. He grew up in Prieska and is passionate about supporting its mostly disadvantaged community. His journey to success has not been easy, and he’s had to navigate a few forks in the road.
Happily, he’s weathered the bad times and believes he’s all the stronger for them. Morné is about to embark on his third year at SACAP in Cape Town where he is studying towards his Bachelor of Social Work.
We caught up with Morné and asked him what he thinks of his course so far. Here’s what he has to say…
“I was not one of the brightest kids at school and faced a lot of obstacles and burdens growing up,” Morné recalls. “I was bullied in primary school, and it got worse in high school.”
Undoubtedly his strength of character helped Morné endure this hardship. “I have the kind of personality that doesn’t give up!” he exclaims.
After matric Morné enrolled in a financial management course at a FET (Further Education and Training) college in Kimberley. “I didn’t have a passion for finance,” he concedes. “I just wanted to have more opportunities than the other young people in my community.”
Morné didn’t complete the course, however, and disheartened returned to Prieska where he chanced upon an opportunity to work at Ethembeni Community and Trauma Centre. “It’s a not-for-profit organisation supported by the Department of Social Development,” he explains.
It’s here that Morné discovered his true calling.
“I worked at the organization for almost three years,” he says. “I helped implement programmes in schools that teach people how to communicate with vulnerable, underprivileged children.”
He continues, saying, “I fell in love with the work and I wanted to learn more about what social workers do in these kinds of communities.”
The following phase of Morné’s academic journey has been an inspiring and fulfilling one, he says. “Since discovering SACAP via Facebook, I have found it to be extremely supportive. All the staff, even from the start of my application process, have been compassionate and invested in my academic success and emotional wellbeing.”
Appreciation for SACAP’s wide-ranging support is a recurring theme in our conversation with Morné, so we asked him to share more details. “When students reach out for assistance on academic challenges or mental health issues, the college is extremely supportive,” he says.
“For example, when a student doesn’t have a clear understanding of the work or struggles with references, SACAP educators are really helpful. They ensure all their students grasp the content fully and they make the modules fun!”
The other aspect of his SACAP experience that he’s keenly enjoying is his exposure to real-world social work, Morné says. In other words, fieldwork or Work Integrated Learning (WIL). “I love that the college gives students the opportunity to work in the field as a social worker right from their first year of study.”
What’s more, SACAP conducts workshops that are extremely helpful, he adds. “They help prepare students for what to expect in the field and how to deal with our own wellbeing when cases are tough.”
“My second-year fieldwork applications have been a special highlight for me,” Morné says. “It’s the best feeling helping to transform peoples’ lives and being part of the positive outcomes that result.”
Morné’s latest WIL practical has solidified his dream of working with young people after he’s qualified. “I worked at a school where the students have different learning challenges,” he explains. “The experience has nurtured my desire to help learners who come from diverse backgrounds and require healing from various traumas in life.”
It’s his biggest passion, Morné says, working with young people from vulnerable circumstances. “I can relate to them and empathise with them because I have a clear understanding of the hardships they have had to endure.”
“I come from one of the largest provinces in South Africa that is also one of the poorest,” Morné says. “My community upbringing and previous work experience have shaped me for a career in social work. It’s more than just a degree for me. I am extremely passionate about inspiring young people to be better than the situation and obstacles they are facing. I want to help them become the best versions of themselves and empower them to reach their full potential.”
Morné’s dream job? “To have my own practice that specializes in loss and grief counselling, and play therapy for children,” he says. “Ideally in a community like the one I grew up in where resources are limited.”
How do you envisage your dream job? If you share Morné’s altruism and passion for helping and healing people, consider SACAP. Our Bachelor of Social Work is a professional qualification that leads to registration with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) as a Registered Social Worker.
“This qualification is the steppingstone for me to make my dream a reality,” says Morné. It could be yours, too. Find out more here.