Martika's cooking is the talk of the town
Martika Lahne's fruitcake is the talk of the Lismore Country Women's Association (CWA).
The 19-year-old National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant won first place with it at the renowned North Coast Show, beating a well-known local champion who hadn't been defeated in years!
Martika has also been studying to sit her learners permit and working to build her culinary skills in the kitchen of a local aged care facility, while studying her Certificate III in Patisserie.
All this for a teenager, who prior to joining the NDIS, was shy and reluctant to do anything without her mum.
Epic Assist Lismore Employment Consultant, Dell Swift said since Martika came through its doors, in February this year (2018), the pair have been working hard to achieve her goals.
"Martika wanted to join the CWA, learn to drive a car and to become more independent," Dell said. "So we joined her up to the CWA quite early. Now it seems she's part of the organisation they can't do without!"
"Dell and I go to the CWA on a Tuesday," Martika said. "I've been doing knitting, cooking and basically doing better than all the old ladies," she said with a laugh. "I've always loved to cook, it's my passion. I'd like to be a baker," Martika added.
When Martika and Dell return from the CWA, Dell ensures Martika studies her Learners Permit book and tests her on the answers. They also enjoy some delicacies baked earlier.
To fulfil her life-long dream of becoming a baker, Martika was studying her Certificate II in Hospitality Kitchen Operations and her Certificate III in baking at school but a series of negative experiences prevented her from finishing.
"She was struggling in every area so we went to the local TAFE and spoke to the head hospitality teacher," Dell said.
"We were able to transfer her registered prior learning, the subjects she had already done, over so she could start her Certificate III in Patisserie, which she's doing now.
Dell also supported Martika to secure her job at the Seven Day Adventist Aged Care kitchen, where she works Mondays and Fridays.
"I love it there," Martika said. "I'm cooking, I'm making all the cakes and desserts for the old people, and I also help clean the kitchen and the coffee machines."
Dell said they also fit in other community inclusion activities outside Martika's busy schedule to help build her confidence, social skills and independence.
"Martika's goes to line-dancing on Wednesdays, which she loves," Dell said. "She also has a passion for Michael Jackson music so we are regulars in the op shops looking for old CD's.