PhD candidate Moloko Mehlape says proper planning and balance help her to juggle life as a qualified dietician, academic, student and mother.
Born and bred in rural Ga-Mamabolo in Limpopo, Mehlape, 30, who is currently pursuing her PhD in dietetics at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Tshwane, runs her own dietary practices based in Centurion, Krugersdorp and Olifantsfontein.
“It’s all about planning and balancing your duties. In between running these practices, I am a new breastfeeding mommy. Sometimes I wonder how I do it,” says Mehlape.
“I have monthly goals and targets. On Sundays, I dedicate half of my day to the next week’s plans to achieve the monthly goals, time to be spent on practice work and on lectures.”
She says she loves her work wholeheartedly.
“I wouldn’t trade my profession for anything. That’s why I did my masters and now PhD.”
Mehlape currently employs five people across her practices.
After eight years of studying, Mehlape attained a BSc in dietetics from Sefako Makgatho and an MSc in dietetics from the University of Pretoria.
Her work includes preventing and treating diseases, weight and height measurement, blood results analysis and assessment of food and fluid intake over a period of time, just to mention a few.
In her field of work, she has dealt with patients ranging from infants to old people, surgical and psychiatric patients and people with high blood pressure, diabetes and malnutrition.
“It is never easy for one to accept that they have certain chronic diseases and that they will live with those conditions forever. But we have been trained to assure patients that their conditions can be controlled and they can live a normal, healthy life regardless. This is done through nutrition education and counselling.”
The mother of one opened her own practice in 2018.
“The first few months it got really slow and I got depressed. I started wondering why I left my permanent job in Limpopo [at Letaba Hospital in Tzaneen] but eventually the business started growing and I would get radio and TV interviews and people started knowing about me.Nowadays, I complain about the workload because I really get a lot of customers,” Mehlape says.
She says her late grandfather is her inspiration.
“My late grandfather is my biggest inspiration. He was not educated but managed to instil the spirit of education in me and believed in me so much that whenever I would speak on the radio or TV, he would proudly tell the whole village that his granddaughter was going to be on TV.”
She is also a rehabilitation dietician at Circle Health Care Hospital and a part-time lecturer at Sefako Makgatho in the department of human nutrition and dietetics.