Indaba fund-raising dinner a hit in NYC

Andre Shearer, at the fundraising dinner in New York.

The Indaba Education Fund held its first fund-raising dinner in New York in mid-October, to help provide quality early childhood education for farmworkers’ children in the Cape Winelands via accredited teacher training.

“Including generous donations received at the dinner, commitments secured since our very young non-profit’s creation now total $680 000 (approximately R9 million),” said Andre Shearer, founder and chairman of the Indaba Education Fund (IEF).

“It was an incredible night on so many levels, and our first-ever IEF event will go down as a legendary one.”

A fully-accredited nonprofit organisation, the IEF was established by New York-based wine importer Cape Classics, to dramatically improve educational opportunities for children living in the South African Winelands by training teachers and care givers in Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) accredited courses at the Indaba Montessori Institute (IMI) outside Stellenbosch.

“By focusing on improving the level of education for young children in the Cape Winelands, the IEF aims to provide these children with a much better chance of using their education to escape the poverty trap and realise their life dreams,” said Mr Shearer.

The fundraising dinner took place at the newly-reopened Eleven Madison Park, 2017’s World’s #1 Best Restaurant (from the World’s 50 Best list), in the heart of New York City. The 44 guests were an eclectic mix of attendees, ranging from actors to philanthropists, Cape Classics and IEF board members, bankers, lawyers, filmmakers, producers, and general friends of the company, including Halil Dundar of the World Bank, Lauren Buzzeo, managing editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and actor Boris Kodjoe.

Guest speakers at the dinner were Lynne Lawrence, the executive director of AMI in Amsterdam, and Professor Takao Hensch, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School’s Boston Children’s Hospital and the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Mortimer D. Sackler, MD prize for Distinguished Achievement in Developmental Psychobiology.

Professor Hensch spoke on his research into critical periods of brain development, and how so much of brain function happens in the first six years – the age groups targeted by the IEF.

Ms Lawrence provided an insightful and inspirational presentation on Early Childhood Education and the specific benefits of Montessori teachings.

Guests were treated to a seven-course tasting menu carefully paired to match nine exceptional wines, a mix of Cape Classic’s French and South African producers, as well as a few rare and highly coveted wines – all that were generously donated.

*The IEF is supported by a portion of all global sales of Cape Classics’ own Indaba Wines brand, as well as through fund-raising and private donations.

The fund helped establish the Indaba Montessori Institute (IMI) at the Sustainability Institute in Lynedoch, off the R310 outside Stellenbosch, where teachers and care-givers receive training in Early Childhood Education.

It also provides bursaries to deserving students, including a group who are currently enrolled in South Africa’s firsr Association Montessori Internationale Assistants to Infancy 0-3 Years Diploma training course.