A powerful vision for the Cape Winelands

Mother and daughter, Nomvelo and Landisiwe Lupuzi – on a united journey of learning in the heart of the Cape Winelands.

As the year 2020 wraps up, what will 2021 hold? A Year of Healing? Yes.

A Year of Rebuilding? Certainly. A Year of Investing – in a new future … But where to invest?

We could start right here: “There is no more heart-felt space deserving of our energy, passion and love, than the emotional foundations on which our children build their lives.”

The words are by André Shearer, the visionary chairman of the Indaba Foundation and its Training Institute.

This transformative centre is based at the Lynedoch Eco-Village, near the Spier Estate, outside Stellenbosch in the Cape Winelands.

The Sustainability Institute is a key partner, at this hub of progressive innovation.

Why does this matter?

The South African wine industry footprint has a legacy of disenfranchised youth, racial challenges, and the world’s highest GINI coefficient.

Approximately 50% of children below age five are affected by abject poverty.

Many lack wholesome nutrition and suffer from the highest fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) rates in the world.

The Indaba team believes investing in early childhood development (ECD) is one of the most meaningful ways of overcoming systemic poverty and inequality.

A doctor in the Cape Winelands area, who faced the daily impact of our violence-ravaged society, told an important gathering of senior government officials – quietly, powerfully: “If we want to change what our casualty unit looks like 20 years from now, the single most important action we must take is: improve children’s ‘First 1 000 Days’ – and then run further ECD properly.

“That’ll have more impact than anything else we could ever do.”

Indaba believes, essentially: the challenges in our society are too intractable to ‘“fix’”. We need to start at the beginning.

Nobel Laureate, Professor James Heckman, is one of many influential thinkers who “have demonstrated that every dollar invested in early childhood development” may garner up to seven times that amount in social returns”.

“All families are under increasing strain; disadvantaged families are strained to the limit,” he argues.

We need to do three things, he advises:

  • Invest in educational and developmental resources for disadvantaged families to provide equal access to successful early human development.
  • Invest in educational and developmental resources for disadvantaged families to provide equal access to successful early human development.
  • Invest in educational and developmental resources for disadvantaged families to provide equal access to successful early human development.

Professor Heckman’s most recent research analyzed comprehensive, high-quality, birth-to-five early childhood programmes for disadvantaged children, which yielded a 13% return on investment per child, per annum through better education, economic, health, and social outcomes.

The Indaba Foundation invests in teacher training through its Training Institute, in a range of courses.

But that is not where it ends: The Indaba teacher training leads educators on a path of lifelong learning, as “Community Shapers” in their communities.

Their role? To support children, and the adults who nurture them, as children grow into mindful members of society.

Jasmine Jacob, the programme’s head, explained: “Society is in need of role-models, teachers who understand themselves and the needs of their communities, who are not satisfied with the status quo and who have the passion and courage to help shape a better future for the children they serve.

“It is through supporting these Community Shapers on a learning journey towards taking action that we believe we will begin to see transformations in our communities.

“We are already seeing these changes taking place within the individuals themselves which is incredibly inspiring,” Ms Jacob reported.

“The intention of the programme is to holistically empower teachers with the knowledge and skills to help meet the needs of the children they serve as well as drive change in their communities.”

Perhaps the following expression is particularly relevant, to understand the urgency in investing today, for tomorrow: “A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.” – D Elton Trueblood

Visit www.indabainstitute.org for more information.