Nicole Poggenpoel woke up one day with the dream of starting her own NGO and that dream became a reality. As a social worker, she saw the need in South Africa to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. In 2015, she founded the Ada Roslind Foundation, named after her grandmother. The NGO offers a home to the homeless, both young and old.

Despite all her ambitions and Samaritan lifestyle, her life was not always easy. Her parents divorced when she was just nine years old. This took a heavy toll on her. She started to grow up faster than most children and from the age of 13 she was involved with drugs and crime, such as theft.

At the age of 16, she began experimenting with prostitution, but this only lasted a month as she says, “If it wasn’t for my mother who prayed for me and kept running after me, things could have been different.”

She passed her matric with a Bachelor’s pass and went on to study social work at the University of South Africa (UNISA), while working full time and 2 to 3 part time jobs to pay her bills. This was the end of her life of crime, which spanned her teenage years.

Although prostitution and petty crime were no longer part of Nicole’s life, drugs still was. It was a constant battle for her. But at the age of 20, she became a mother, and looking into her son’s eyes, was enough reason to stop.

Nicole always had dreams of becoming a social worker: “I envisioned myself being one of Western Cape’s best social workers. I then went to work for an NPO in 2010, to gain experience in social work. The NPO houses disabled people and treats them like they are of sound mind. This inspired me to want to do the same for children.”

However, at the end of 2010, that idea had long been forgotten and in 2014 she found herself a single mother with a three-year-old, struggling to find a job. But one night, during a dream, everything changed for her.

“I dreamt my grandmother came to me and told me when I wake up, my business plan will be ready. I just thought of it as a dream but when I woke up, something kept prompting me that morning to log onto social development and by the end of the day I had drafted and registered my NPO with no idea what I was doing or getting myself into. I didn’t expect that I would even get approved. Five years later, the rest is history.”

Nicole’s NPO kicked off. Her initiative provides tutoring at an affordable rate and all funding goes towards growing the feeding scheme.

“My grandmother had this habit of always helping someone in need. She would give her last R10 if you asked her. She basically helped groom me into being a mother hen to the rest of the world.”

When asked what her motivation and inspiration is for doing what she does, she simply says, “The desire to help others; my need to try and help other people heal is my biggest and greatest daily inspiration.”

The road doesn’t end here for Nicole. She sees her organisation expanding and growing in the next five to 10 years:

“During the next five to 10 years, I see the first actual children home set up and operating. The tutoring school having its own venues for extra lessons, instead of using libraries, running daily. My feeding scheme running daily. My counselling in school running daily. I want to open a primary school. My transport business running successfully alongside my best friend. I want to marry a God-fearing man who loves my son as his own and living on a farm area out of the city.”

Nicole ends off with advice to anyone wanting to start their own initiative:

“Just do it. Forget the fears and forget the negativity from others. People will say you’re crazy because they are scared of you succeeding, not because your idea is crazy. If you can’t fight to make your own business work, how will you be able to ever fight for anything else in life? The fight to have what you want is what sets you apart from those who suffer with fear and those who are fearless.”

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