Here at Waterford Estate, we believe in nurturing and developing the children who grow up on the farm – a task that’s made possible with the help of social worker Nina Kleynhans.
Camaraderie and prosperity are two of the values that underpin every activity at Waterford Estate. They also form the basis of many of the loving friendships and relationships that have developed on the farm over the last couple of years.
For viticulturist David van Schalkwyk, who works side by side with an established group of farm workers every day, uplifting the people who live and work on the farm has always been a priority. And so, as part of David’s ongoing commitment to help his team members and their families to prosper and grow, he enlisted the help of social worker Nina Kleynhans.
Since April 2018, Nina has been spending most of her afternoons in the small crèche located close to the workers’ homes on the farm, helping the estate’s lively group of children to learn and develop as they play.
Over time, Nina has developed her own relevant, age-appropriate programmes – all of which are geared towards social and emotional learning. On certain days of the week, she plays with the little ones; on others, she spends time with the teenagers, teaching them important life skills.
“I discovered that children who live on a farm and who play outside every day, learn very differently to children who don’t grow up in this kind of environment,” she says. “They use their bodies a lot more, while putting pen to paper quickly bores them. I had to develop activities that worked for them and that keep them engaged.”
Every year, David and Nina also make a point of taking the children on a fun excursion – a learning opportunity that most of them wouldn’t have been able to enjoy otherwise. Last year’s trip to the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront was a highlight that’s still often talked about.
While Nina initially struggled with discipline within the different groups, this has changed over the past few months, as she got to know the different personalities better. “The fact that I give them lots of positive feedback has also made a massive difference.”
David believes that working with the children offers him, as well as the other managers at the estate, a chance to get to know the families better. “It also forces us to have regular meetings with the parents. When issues arise, we can then help each other to find solutions.”
For Nina, the real pleasure of the programme lies in seeing how a little bit of the right kind of attention goes a long way towards uplifting and empowering the children. “I also love building relationships with them, watching them grow, and being part of their life journey.”