Proteas of the Valley 2022: She-Earl Onverwacht
She-Earl was born and raised in Paarl East, and her mother’s death when she was in Grade 9 changed her childhood from a stable one to one filled with turmoil.
When her mother died, her father started drinking, was never home, and his already strained relationship with her stepbrother became more unstable.
“My father and stepbrother always had a difficult relationship, but when my mother died, everything just fell apart. There was always conflict between them, and one day it escalated to a point where my stepbrother stabbed my father,” she said.
She-Earl’s father ended up in the hospital and was in critical condition. This event was once again a difficult time for She-Earl. She was facing the possibility of losing her father, and her stepbrother had gone to stay with other family members, leaving her to fend for herself.
Her mother’s passing was a huge blow to her, and the experience changed her forever.
“We did not know that my mother had any health problems. She just woke up one day, and as she was preparing for work, she collapsed from a stroke and died. It was sudden, and I was left feeling very lost,” she said.
Even though she was feeling lost and had little to no supervision, She-earl promised herself that she would finish school and build a better life for herself. After finishing high school, one of her former teachers suggested she apply for a social auxiliary worker learnership.
“I went through difficult times in my life, and those experiences have made it easier for me to relate to the children and women I come in contact with in my line of work. I understand what they are going through because I have been there myself,” she added.
She-Earl currently works as a social auxiliary worker at the Thuthuzela Care Centre in Paarl, and she says her job means so much to her.
“I once was in a place where I felt lost and alone, and I do not want anyone to ever feel like that. Being able to wake up every day, go to work and be there for someone when they need me the most—is the best feeling ever, and I am grateful for that.”
She-Earl’s advice to women for Women’s Month is that they are precious, worthy, and valued.
“No matter what you’re going through, know that you have a purpose, and the light will shine through if you keep going.”