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Winner’s struggle to succeed

By Sandile Waka-Zamisa

THE winner of the IT Intellect/Witness R50 000 study bursary, Elizabeth Baird, was still feeling goose bumps yesterday when The Witness visited her at her Richmond home.

“I am still very jumpy. Excitement is just rushing through my body,” she said.

Over the years she has struggled to believe that she would get anywhere, because of her family’s circumstances.

“I always thought I will never get the opportunity to get where I am now. I think I am the luckiest girl to get the chance to go even further.”

Elizabeth’s mother, Michelle Baird, encouraged her daughter to use the opportunity to her advantage.

“I am very happy for her. Now she must give it a big shot and become successful,” Baird said. Having been diagnosed with an epileptic condition almost 14 years ago, Michelle Baird receives a disability grant.

Elizabeth was four years old when her mother became ill, and her grandparents, Kenneth and Helen van Jarsveld (both 59), take care of both their daughter and granddaughter.

Raising Elizabeth and making sure that she received proper education has been one of the struggles that the Van Jaarsvelda have faced over the years.

Elizabeth’s father disappeared when he divorced her mother and she has never seen him.

Kenneth has been out of formal employment for the past 10 years, and Helen is the only person with a stable job in the house. “It hasn’t been easy for all of us, but we survived. But now she has been awarded an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Kenneth.

Elizabeth said her worst moment at school was when her computer stopped working during her trials exams.

“The first computer stopped working, so I changed to another computer and it didn’t work and I was really scared, but one eventually worked,” she said.

She agreed that it was a sign she should definitely venture into IT.

And the excitement is not over for the Linpark High pupil, because she is confident about her results. “I am very positive about my results, I am waiting with great expectation,” she said.