My name is Thimna Klaasen. I am 20 years old. I’m born and raised in Khayelitsha. I attended Belthorn Primary School and for higher grades, I went to Garlandale High School in Athlone. Growing up, life was great, I did not have any worries about anything. I grew up as a very shy child, I didn’t like being in the spotlight. I matriculated in 2019 and I was very proud of myself for making it. After matric, I had this beautiful picture in my head that life will be easier, and that was not the case.
After high school, I always told myself that I wanted to study further. I did not like the idea of taking a gap year because I felt like it would make me lazy to go back to school the following year. I applied at Pearson Institute and I was so excited when I got accepted. I got enrolled in the Business Management course. I loved and enjoyed the course. After a few months of attendance, the president announced a lockdown due to COVID-19. We were not allowed to go to campus and online learning was introduced. It was difficult for me to adjust to online learning because of some financial difficulties. I felt so discouraged and lost so I stopped attending. At that time, it felt like I made a good decision. It was difficult but I always reminded myself that everything happens for a reason and maybe it was not the year for me to study. God’s timing is perfect timing. I was then introduced to RLabs by a high school friend who was working for RLabs. She spoke so highly of how RLabs helped her better herself and how she got the necessary skills for her next journey.

Thimna Klaasen

I then joined the Skills Accelerator program because I wanted to learn more about the technological world. I was so clueless about technology when I started the program but I wanted to get the necessary skills for a better job in future.

The Skills Accelerator venture has given me the motivation I need to do whatever I set my mind to. I have the momentum to keep going and never give up, even if times are tough. I always see every opportunity as a good opportunity. They have given me the courage to start whatever business I want to start.
This experience/opportunity means so much to me and gave me an opportunity to challenge myself, provide for my family, and look out for myself.
Many people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and I got blessed with this great opportunity.

Before RLabs, I was very lonely and did not believe in myself. I have learnt so much about my strengths and weaknesses. It was difficult for me to open up and take more, being comfortable in the spotlight. I overcame that challenge by always stepping out of my comfort zone, doing things I never thought I would, trusting and believing in myself more. I am now able to voice my opinion about certain things and not feel like I’m being judged for what I’m saying.

This experience has made me appreciate life even more. It has made me look forward to the next day and given me a purpose to live. It has taught me how to carry myself in the workplace and it has given me that confidence and strength to tackle whatever comes my way.

I have learnt so much from this experience. The skills that I have learnt and that I will be taking with me to the outside world would be great communication skills, and also patience because working with people you do need patience. I have discovered that I enjoy working in a group more than by myself. I have never thought I would enjoy being in a group because I was used to the idea of always being alone.

My highlight is when I was introduced to the RLabs family for the first time. I have never met people like the RLabs family, they are so warm and loving. They made me feel comfortable and worthy.
My lowlight would be working from home. To me, working from the office with your colleagues is much better than working from home. Because at the office, you get to engage with your colleagues and be physically present.

Another extraordinary moment for me was when my colleague was going through a hard time, personally. I was there to comfort her, give her words of encouragement, and give her a listening ear. Sometimes we just need someone that will listen to us without feeling like we are being judged. I gave her that and was proud.

The YES Smartphone has impacted my life in a positive way. The YES Apps are really a good starting point getting you ready for the outside world. I enjoyed the module called Know yourself to Grow yourself. In this module, I have learnt to understand myself better so that I can grow and become a better version of myself. In the module about Professionalism – I have learnt the Do’s and Don’ts of the workplace and how to be professional. In the module about Money Management – I have learnt how to manage my money properly and how to budget.

This is my first time earning an income. It enables me to help out at home. I can contribute something even if it is small or big. I get to buy electricity and other household supplies and also provide personal care.

To unemployed youth out there, I would say:

Don’t give up, even if things are not looking up for you right now and they should know that when the time is right all the right doors will open up. Always keep an open mind to everything. You may not get the job you want or studied for but there’s always a start to something and not all starts are great. You should take each and every opportunity that comes your way.

To RLabs and partners, I would like to say thank you for giving me an opportunity amongst hundreds. Thank you for giving the Youth of SA a chance to have a better life.

The Skills Accelerator is a proudly RLabs initiative that is made possible thanks to the support of JPMorgan Chase.

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