We often overlook the not-so-obvious impact of the Waitrose Foundation on the social upliftment in agri-worker communities on partner farms. While the physical infrastructure, equipment, training programmes and other tangible projects are always noticed and appreciated, one must look slightly deeper and engage on a personal level with the community members to experience the real implications of these initiatives for ordinary people in remote rural communities.
At the opening of a new crèche for Queen of Africa Farm outside Buffelsjagsrivier in the Western Cape, attended by representatives from Market Demand Fruits (exporter) as well as the Waitrose Foundation, we were again reminded of just how much agri-worker communities and farm managers value the Foundation’s funds AND the support services for social development projects.
In this case the Waitrose Foundation’s integrated and holistic approach to development resulted in a project by the workers, for the workers. Farm managers and workers who have the required building and carpentry skills erected the building themselves, while office staff and women arranged the furniture, equipment and toys to complete the project. Suitable caregivers have been identified already and will be equipped to render quality personal and educational support to the children of permanent as well as seasonal workers.
While the young fathers and mothers, as well as grandparents, of the crèche-kids expressed their gratitude and excitement at the opening of the crèche, the workers could not hide their pride at reaching this milestone – the result of their collective effort over the last few months.
The level of motivation and general enthusiasm resulting from a true sense of achievement experienced by the community members who participated in the implementation of this project is probably the greatest achievement of this project. In addition, the crèche brings hope for the future of children living on the farm. It provides a beautiful and stimulating learning environment, created by themselves on their farm.