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Home: Freunde Waldorf

A kindergarten on vineyards in South Africa

South Africa: In South Africa there are many wine estates. As in the townships, the workers of these vineyards have to struggle daily with the problems of HIV, tuberculosis, drug and alcohol abuse and violence. Since 1994, the Blaauwklippen vineyards near Stellenbosch have established their own child-care. In 2001 the Waldorf inspired work began when kindergarten teacher Luna Malan began to dedicate her strength to improve the situation - not only for small children, but also for school children and for adults.

The farm is located in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. There the children of farm workers have the possibility to attend a day nursery, a kindergarten and afternoon activities. The public schools are overcrowded with more than 40 children in one class and the children often come home sad and aggressive, as too much pressure is put on their intellectual development. Especially in schools with children of black origin, strict discipline is being exercised. Often, children still suffer from physical punishment. Therefore, the idea of a Waldorf kindergarten on the vineyards, seeking to create work for many underprivileged people and support them with education developed as a healthy alternative.

The farm is home to more than 130 people. Some of the local problems are abuse, negligence, poverty, alcohol, drugs and violence. Many children have a fetal alcohol syndrome and require special care. State schools offer little curative care, from which children with special needs could receive the necessary support. Therefore, it is a daily concern to the Blaauwklippen vineyards to help, to educate and to create a harmonious environment in order to build a community that can be strong and healthy.

Since 1994, there has been a day nursery for the “safekeeping” of children - originally it was just a care center. This only changed after the sale of the farm. In 2001, the new owners decided to introduce Waldorf education as a philosophy for the day nursery. At the same time they also started with the kindergarten and after-school care for school children. The afternoon care helps students form grades 1-9 with homework and reading. The educators play, paint, garden with them and support children with problems at home and at school. However, the teachers keep on fighting for an acceptable compensation.

The apartheid system has left behind many problems in South Africa. The townships enjoy more and more attention, but at the same time one forgets the people who have been working on the farms under inhumane circumstances for decades. At least three quarters of the people on the Blaauwklippen vineyards have already been born there and look at it as their home. Only 40% of them can read or write at all. Since 2006, the farm offers them training in reading and writing, and only now the workers begin to recognize the value of this offering.

During apartheid the “dop system” was a widespread practice, in which farm workers were given cheap wine as part of their weekly salary. Even today there are still many workers who come to work drunk on Mondays or even on a daily basis. They are now offered support, where they learn about in the abuse of alcohol, drugs, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, child education and family life. The vineyards hope for change. However, there is a long, steep path ahead and the issues can certainly not be solved within a year.