Hope lives in Solms-Delta

Solms-Delta, a wine farm in Franschoek, in the Western Cape, has seen a dramatic decrease in alcohol abuse among its farm workers over the past three years as a result of programs aimed at improving the quality of labourers’ lives.

Although the foundation does not yet have figures available, director Anna Brom, says “the incidence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) among new born babies is starting to decrease.”

Programs focus on providing workers with access to training and jobs that open up their economic prospects beyond life on the farm.

Suzie Orayn, a 35 year-old mother of three, once made a living packing fruits on a nearby farm.
When her husband was employed by Solms-Delta four years ago, the farm’s Anna Foundation sent her on a three-month paid-for course to qualify as an assistant teacher.

Thereafter she was employed as one of the farm’s resident assistant teachers who help farm children with their home work in the afternoons. “I feel so much more fulfilled with life,” she explains. “I always thought this type of job is beyond my reach! And now I’m able to give my children hope to aspire to better things too.”

Orayn’s husband is also a beneficiary of the farm’s life improvement programmes. He received training in tourism, and now works as a farm tour and museum guide. He also runs the wine tasting facility for visiting tourists.

According to Francis Lubbock, the farm’s social worker, taking a “holistic approach” to the workers’ lives has helped them to move away from alcohol abuse. Farm workers’ children are provided with alternatives to the lives their parents lead, so that “the cycle of alcohol abuse on farms is broken,” says Brom.

Lubbock was hired by the Wyn de Caab Trust, which was established to look after the interests of all the stakeholders at Solms Delta and Lubeck-Delta, a nearby farm owned by Richard Astor. The funds are drawn from the annual profits of the two farms.

Education—from childhood development programmes to tertiary education—has been top priority. The result has been an adult education programme, a crèche for children, as well as an after school facility for children who need help with their homework. These facilities are run by a professional teacher and three assistant-teachers, of which Orayn is one. Many of the children suffer from FASD.

Seven-year-old Jonwill Slingers ( A Grade 1 learner), has shown promising results. He has learning barriers and struggles to concentrate or focus on any task. In June 2008, Jonwill could not write his name and had no interest in cooperating with teachers. By June this year, he was very proudly writing his name and he actively participated in learning and was always early for classes with the Anna Foundation.

Lubbock says the workers have also been given new houses in a “clean and child-friendly environment” and plans are underway to build a community clinic to address basic health care needs. Currently the farm workers have access to a medical doctor of their choice. The farm pays 85% of workers’ medical fees; the remaining 15% are carried by the individuals themselves.

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