Over 1 200 primary school-children in the Western Cape winelands have for the first time been given access to broad-based reading material and internet technology through the newly-launched Du Toitskloof-Douglas Green Mobile Library.
This joint initiative between two leading South African wine producers, Du Toitskloof Wines from Rawsonville and Douglas Green Wine based in Wellington, takes the form of a brand new Mercedex Benz Axor truck fitted with a 15m trailer wherein lies a treasure trove of education material.
Some 5000 brand-new books, specially selected for school-children between Grades 1 and 5, stand between a set of ten out-of-the-box computers with full internet access from an on-board router. Included in the computer programmes is software developed by internationally renowned hand-eye co-ordination specialists Eye Gym which helps children to improve their learning skills.
The Du Toitskloof-Douglas Green Mobile Library will follow a route through the areas of Rawsonville, Goudini and Worcester, stopping for a full day at each of the nine primary schools identified as needing access to books and learning aides.
A full-time librarian will be on hand to assist the learners at every stop.
According to Marius Louw, CEO of Du Toitskloof Wines, the project was driven by a need he and his colleagues saw in the local community on a daily basis.
“When speaking to school-going children in this region, one quickly realises that the schools they attend have the bare minimum in terms of facilities and education aides,” he says. “And in their homes they would be fortunate to have access to a weekly newspaper. My question was: how can these children be expected to develop to their full potential if they do not have the bare necessities such as books – not to mention computers – at primary school level?”
As an integral part of the Breedekloof wine community, Louw says Du Toitskloof Wines is inextricably linked to the general well-being of the region’s people.
“As a major wine producer, we deem it our responsibility to address issues preventing our people, especially school children, from enjoying the same facilities that their peers in urbanised areas have access to. If not, they are doomed to become another cog in the cycle of poverty that is unfortunately still rife in the winelands.”
Louw expressed a special word of appreciation to Douglas Green Wine and its parent company DGB for joining the initiative.
“Without Douglas Green and DGB we would have had to wait a lot longer to get the wheels rolling,” says Louw. “We greatly appreciate DGB’s assistance in making this happen. If I may say so, this joint initiative between two wine companies is but one example of the South African wine industry’s overall commitment to the people living in the communities from where our wine is sourced.”
Tim Hutchinson, Executive Chairman of DGB, sees this mobile library and computer resource as an extremely worthy extension to our Fair Trade Wine “Douglas Green- Fair to All” brand.
“The funds generated from sales of these wines will help pay operating expenses. Because Du Toitskloof Winery manages community projects like these extremely well, the sustainability of this project is assured. A project that adds value to the education of local farm workers children makes sense for all of us involved.”
The project also has the support of the Western Cape’s Ministry of Education, the Cape Winelands Education District as well as that of the schools in the region who will benefit from the visits of this unique education facility. Like Douglas Green Wine, Du Toitskloof Wines will donate a share of its income derived from each litre of wine sold to establishing and maintaining the travelling library, with the rest of the funding coming from donors and sponsors.
The schools who are on the current list for visits from the Du Toitskloof-Douglas Green Library are primary schools Slanghoek, Wysersdrift, Weltevrede, Betel, Botha’s Halte, Petra Gedenk, Breederivier, Lorraine and Goudini Bad.