My name is Kesha Koopman, I am 22 years old and I live in Athlone. A bit of my background before joining the YES program, I was pregnant in my Matric year and passed with a Bachelor’s Degree. Over 3 years I was unable to get a job and it was hard to take care of my daughter and help my family and to a point, I was almost homeless. I had a part-time job and used that little money for whatever was needed. It was hard for me to get any other kind of job that could offer a 6 months contract or even a year because I had too little experience to meet the requirements.

I overcame these hard times by just telling myself to keep praying and things will get better. I just have to keep on going, until one day a family friend told my mother they gave my name into a program called YES so that I could gain work experience. The very first day we started at Naspers Labs, located in Delft, I was so shy I had very little confidence in speaking or even taking part in activities but during my time at Naspers Labs, the staff has helped me personally to look at life differently and start thinking about my future, to get out of my shell and start taking on challenges I normally wouldn’t want to face.

The YES program has impacted my life in a way that I’ve regained all hope that I lost that helped me grow personally and professionally giving me a full year of work experience. I have learned to appreciate the little that I have and to not think that my small problem is bigger than someone else’s when they could be going through something much worse than what I am. I have discovered that if I want to see a change I have to change myself first before trying to help change the world. My journey has been a true blessing, I’ve grown from being quiet and scared to someone who takes on a challenge and speaks up.

My highlight was getting to be placed with Zlto as I’ve always wanted to be part of an organization or program that really strives to help people and now they’ve offered me a permanent position to continue working with them. Another highlight I had was that at RLabs they celebrate every little success in someone’s life from buying a house to getting your license or even just your learners, showing genuine support and happiness for anyone’s accomplishments.

My challenges in the workplace were having to adapt to change, from how I am at home to how I carry myself at work and how I speak to colleagues and around guests. I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes because you get to learn from them. This has been my first permanent job, earning an income has helped me provide for my family and take care of my daughter’s needs.

My plans for the future are just to be the best mother I can be and to spread love, kindness & hope to anyone that is feeling low. That’s what I’ve received throughout the YES program.

The YES4Youth apps have also played a big part in my journey of personal and professional growth as the modules explain certain things I haven’t known about the workplace and how to handle certain situations. Doing the weekly and monthly surveys have helped me personally release ways I felt about the week of work and the overall month.

The advice I would give to unemployed youth is to never lose hope, yes you might be at the bottom but one day you will be on the top, and please remember to help others in need once you start moving up in life’s blessings.

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