Text: Carmé Naudé
The FWDT (Fruit Workers’ Development Trust) aims at improving the quality of the lives of the workers on fruit farms. Vredelust Farm, one of the Trust’s beneficiaries is situated in Villiersdorp and was purchased in 2013. With the help of the Trust, Bokkeveld Partnership (Vredelust Farm) has been able to establish an aftercare media centre for the children of the workers on the farm. “This is just the beginning, we still want to do so much more,” Cecile Nel coordinator of the project said.
They create an environment where children have the willingness to come after school to study. This specific aftercare centre is aimed at primary school students. High school students are welcome to come to use the resources available such as the Internet, dictionaries and ask the facilitator to help with assignments. This is a safe, tranquil environment for the children to learn & grow. “We feel very strongly about our children and it is important that we enable and motivate them to go study after matric,” Cecile emphasizes.
There are four established aftercare centres on the other farms and they are enthusiastic to see the latest one grow. It is a process where the learners’ trusts are gained. Currently, there are six students attending the aftercare centrum daily.
The computers are equipped with CAMI programs, which are in line with the school curriculum. The aftercare program stretches further than the children’s computer skills, it also teaches respect and discipline. “It’s a nice place to come to do your homework, the teacher helps us with what we struggle with and gives us more exercises to practice,” Byron Braintjies, a grade eight learner that comes to the aftercare centrum said.
The most reassuring aspect is that the farm workers know their children are safe and in good hands while at work. Ultimately the productivity of the workers increases because there is no need to concern about their children. Another advantage is the additional family time in the evenings when the children finish their schoolwork at the center.
According to Cecile, the school has complimented that the learners understand and progress faster with the extra help the aftercare safe space provides. Language development is one of the key focus areas of the program. The centrum allows outdoor activities such as field trips, soccer and on Fridays the learners get creative with art classes.
The facilitator Miss Bianca May says that she focuses on the children’s homework together with the CAMI program to ensure consistent progress. “The aftercare centre has a great impact on the kids as well as the parents and gives them the extra security and motivation to achieve the best they can.”