Chef lands internship in the US

Lesedi Gaetsewe with her son Leano./SUPPLIED
Lesedi Gaetsewe with her son Leano./SUPPLIED

Lesedi Gaetsewe had to temporarily put her dreams of becoming a chef on hold to take care of her critically sick newborn.

Leano, the four-year-old son of the 27-year-old mother from Mahikeng, North West, had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition where there's too much fluid in the brain. He eventually became blind due to complications and never learnt to walk as a result.

After extensive occupational and physical therapy, Leano has regained his sight and has slowly been learning to walk. This allowed Gaetsewe to make a comeback in culinary training and has now landed a spot as an intern at a prestigious company in the US after she graduated in 2017.

"Landing this internship is a huge breakthrough for me. I mean, it breaks my heart that I have to leave the chap for a whole year, but at this rate this will help advance my career and as a result lay a better foundation for him going forward."

She said Leano, who has made a remarkable recovery, will stay with her pensioner parents while she is away.

Gaetsewe said it has been heartbreaking to see her son lagging behind his peers in his development but that she was ecstatic that he was catching up.

"It was a huge sense of relief but it was a gradual return because we had limited funds to send him to therapy and it was mainly for him to learn how to walk. We had only a few sessions that focused on his vision and it eventually returned.

"As a first-time mom I felt quite overwhelmed by what was going on. I could not believe that my son was getting brain surgery."

Her sister Boitumelo said she hoped this opportunity (the internship) will better the lives of her sister and nephew.

Gaetsewe said her family "really pulled through for Leano and I. In spite of all they were dealing with in their own personal lives, they still made us a priority."

However, Gaetsewe said she was still battling to raise money to pay for the flight ticket to start her internship at the Bardstown Bourbon Company in Kentucky, which is scheduled to begin on March 15.

Her family has been able to raise R28,000 to pay the US agency that assisted with her placing at the company, including helping her secure a US visa. But she still needs around R30,000 to buy a flight ticket and upkeep money for her first month before getting paid.

An e-mail from the company dated September 2018, which Sowetan has seen, said Gaetsewe would be reporting to renowned chef Felix Mosso.

"During the rotational training program, you will be paid an hourly stipend..." the e-mail reads.

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