For the children

Distell CEO, Richard Rushton; Centre for Early Childhood Development fund-raising manager, Zahra Manji; and Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO, Sello Hatang at the Nederburg Auction where just over R1.2 million was raised during the charity auction. The funds will be used to support early childhood development centres in the Cape Winelands.

The annual Nederburg Wine Auction is a sophisticated and much-anticipated affair, but it is not just about rich people dropping large sums of money on rare and fine wines.

Bidders are given the opportunity to give rather than to receive by bidding on the charity auction, which raises hundreds of thousands of rands each year.

In the 100th year since Nelson Mandela’s birth, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is the target beneficiary organisation, and it should come as no surprise that Madiba’s love of children and his passion for education as a principal mechanism for effecting change, come together in support of the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD), which will disburse the funds from this year’s auction.

The auction took place on the evening of Friday September 7, and the glittering array of lots, all donated, raised R604 000, as bidders dug deep for the children, ably persuaded by charity auctioneer, Roland Peens, who is no stranger to working the crowd for that one final bid to push up the grand total.

In a gesture that now seems set to be an annual tradition, Distell CEO, Richard Rushton took to the stage to thank the bidders for their largesse, and matched the auction amount, taking the total sum that CECD will get to disburse to early childhood development centres in the Cape Winelands, to R1 208 000.

Bolander spoke to Zahra Manji, CECD fund-raising manager, after the auction to find out what the donation means to CECD and how the funds would be deployed.

“It’s really exciting because it means we can give a lot more services to more ECD centres in the Winelands where we are going to do this work. Whereas we might have been able to reach 10 centres, we will now be able to reach 20 centres because the amount was doubled by Richard Rushton.

“We do an assessment of a centre and the most important thing is to make sure that centre sustainable and make sure it can offer good quality services. The centre also needs to be registered with the Department of Social Development to access a subsidy per child We look at everything, from the infrastructure to the quality of the teaching to the management of the centre, and depending up where the greatest need is, we will help them.”

She went on to say it could be anything from a small health and safety item like a fire extinguisher, to a range of facilities and services that span the entire gamut of ECD operations, like toilets, books, toys, indoor and outdoor equipment, training of staff, and on-going monitoring and mentoring of ECD staff.

“It’s an on-going relationship; we never leave a community. We are always available to provide support and assistance to the ECD centres with which we’ve worked in the past,” said Ms Manji.

Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation said: “ECD is a means for stopping the poisoning of the future. We have so many children in our country who have to draw the right lottery ticket in order to succeed. It shouldn’t be this way. It shouldn’t be. The country should create an environment for you to thrive. If you are capable of doing it, you should be able too just run if presented with an opportunity.

“The funds from this auction will be spent in the Western Cape where, through this investment we will stop this poisoning of the future. Early childhood development gives children from zero to eight years old, that opportunity too just be and to seize and run with opportunity.”

Reflecting on Distell’s contribution by matching the auction total, Mr Rushton said: “The biggest thing we have to deal with in our country is to create a sense of optimism and hope for all of our children, to strive for something we all dream of: a South Africa that is free of discrimination, a land of opportunity which explores all of its diversity to the fullest extent and is ultimately prosperous. For us to have that, we need an education system that nourishes all our children from a young age, and that means starting at the very beginning, which is why early childhood development is so important.”