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Miri­am Kwapeng, junior chef at Maropeng, was num­ber 400 in the queue when she applied for a job at Maropeng in 2005 – num­ber 400 in the sec­ond group of inter­vie­wees. Need­less to say, she was nervous. 

Before she got the job at Maropeng, Miri­am baked cakes for shops in Hon­ey­dew. What she likes most about work­ing at the vis­i­tor cen­tre of the Cra­dle of Humankind is the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn from expe­ri­enced chefs. 

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Peo­ple here are very, very nice to work with,” she says. All I knew was bak­ing and I have learnt a lot more here.”

In the future, she’d like to be sous chef or even exec­u­tive chef at Maropeng. 

I am work­ing nice­ly here. We work as a team,” she says.

Itume­leng Mtombeni, assis­tant restau­rant man­ag­er at Maropeng, is full of praise for Miriam. 

She’s a very good per­son,” he says. When you ask her to do some­thing, she always will. She will try her best to assist always.”

There’s no doubt at all that Miri­am is a hard work­er. In fact, she adds a whole new mean­ing to the term. On week days she works as a junior chef at the Tumu­lus Restau­rant at Maropeng. In the evenings she attends night school. And over week­ends she works in the kiosk at Maropeng.

She does this for her chil­dren – aged 14 and seven.

I want to have a bet­ter future,” she says. I want my chil­dren to go to school well so every­thing can be sim­ple for them. They study hard and I also help them.

I don’t have time to rest,” she con­tin­ues, but at the end I think I’ll thank myself for what I’ve done.” 

After all she’s learnt at Maropeng thanks to her ded­i­ca­tion and will­ing­ness to learn, she will prob­a­bly start by being grate­ful she wait­ed in the nev­er-end­ing queue four years ago.