We are proud to showcase individual success stories and projects from the Valley of Life, drawing inspiration from the Foundation for a better life for all.
Despite being born blind, Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Arendse (53) has never felt disadvantaged by her lack of eyesight. Instead, she has used every opportunity to educate herself and give back to her community in many different ways.
Elizabeth’s journey of empowerment started as a young girl attending the Athlone School for the Blind in Wellington. She and her sister – who is partially sighted – were sent to the boarding school, where they soon made a wealth of friends and gained invaluable skills that have served them well ever since.
“From our earliest days at the school, we received mobility training – they taught us how to walk with the assistance of a cane, how to cross a road safely, and even how to navigate shopping malls with escalators!”
“When things aren’t good in my life, I like to be alone and work with my hands, building my sound system. I don’t go out and look for trouble or pick fights, I work.”
Although humble and soft-spoken, Franco Booysen has a steely determination and confidence that seems out of place for someone who has suffered such a difficult history.
A sad and solitary start
When Franco was only a young boy, his mother passed away and he was sent to live with his father and stepmother on the Cape Flats.
“I never felt part of the family. I felt like an outsider, and that made me very sad.”
Without any brothers or sisters of his own, he led a painfully lonely existence and mostly kept to himself. Although going to primary school offered a welcome distraction from home life, it soon became clear that he had a developmental delay which set Franco at a further disadvantage.
The community of Mbekweni, Paarl celebrated the opening of their first Community Optometry Practice on Mandela Day, 18 July 2019.
The Val de Vie Foundation is proud to support Vision Box, empowering qualified optometrists from disadvantaged backgrounds to run their own practices in currently under-served townships and rural settings. Not only is the Val de Vie Foundation helping Vision Box to realise Nelson Mandela’s dream of developing entrepreneurs to earn a good, sustainable income, it also seeks to eradicate the number one cause of visual impairment – that of uncorrected refractive error.
On 18 July, the first Vision Box Optometry Practice debuted at the Inceba Mbekweni Hub, 49 Mphakalasi Street, Mbekweni. It will enable a previously under-served community to have easy and affordable access to eye tests and eyeglasses.
Over R750 000 worth of shoes and backpacks were donated to the 19 non-fee-paying primary schools in the Paarl vicinity during January and February 2019.
Overall, all Grade 3 learners from 19 schools in Drakenstein Valley received 2,200 reflective backpacks and sixteen schools received almost 2,800 pairs of Buccaneer school shoes for their most needy learners.
These funds were made possible by the generous support of the participants in the 2018 Vodacom Shop Celebrity Golf Day, held at the Pearl Valley Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on Val de Vie Estate on 18 October. Celebrities in the day included former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Bobby van Jaarsveld, Chester Williams, Allan Donald, AJ Venter, Schalk Britz and Rolene Strauss, to name a few.
Insightful words indeed from such a young man with an “old soul.” The Val de Vie Foundation sponsored Raidan’s attendance at the South African Junior Chess Championship late in 2018. He received a full score of 7 out of 7, placing him in first place on Board 4. To celebrate, he was invited by Renier Swart (Sales Director of the Val de Vie Group of Companies and Managing Director of Val de Vie Construction to play against him on the new outdoor Chess Board at the Polo Village Offices. They played a tough two games, with Raidan winning both times.
“We are so proud to have Raidan in our Valley and foresee really big things for him”, commented Renier, “Raidan’s passion for the game of chess as well as his insight into the game is truly amazing. We are supporting a potential global champion here.”
The Paarl-Franschhoek region has become a popular hub for all things equestrian and Val de Vie Estate is renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities and a dedicated, experienced equine team. The team consists of handlers, trainers, grooms and farriers – all responsible for the optimal health and wellbeing of the horses in their care. A close bond exists between these custodians and their ponies as many hours are spent together gaining each other’s trust. Daily cleaning, feeding, brushing, inspecting and exercise routines keep the Val de Vie ponies in tip top shape to participate in high goal polo matches such as the Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo.
The Val de Vie Foundation and Val de Vie Equestrian (Pty) Ltd companies have raised adequate funds to build homes on a farm in the Paarl-Franschhoek Valley for the Val de Vie equine team to reside. This gesture assures that the team has a safe place to live and a bed to get a full night’s rest – a luxury not previously afforded. A donation handed over at the 2018 and yet again at the 2019 Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo will enable these valuable team members to upskill their knowledge and further their careers in the horse industry. Basic life skills, such as opening a personal bank account, will form part of an ongoing training programme to empower the team.
The Val de Vie Foundation worked with Paarl Provincial Hospital Paediatric Ward to launch the Child Development health initiative, called the “Road to Health Booklet”, late in 2018.
Dr Jaco Murray’s vision was to create awareness of the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life by highlighting the 5 factors that contribute most to a healthy child:
NUTRITION – LOVE – PROTECTION – HEALTHCARE – EXTRA CARE
The Val de Vie Foundation distributed entry forms on Art Paper to 26 Paarl Primary Schools. Learners responded enthusiastically, submitting 251 entries in the hope of winning one of 12 school prizes of R500.
Tamaryn Green , 6th year student doctor , local Paarl lass and current Miss South Africa, was delighted to join Dr Jaco Murray (pictured) in judging the competition. The 12 prizes went to learners from 8 primary schools: Amstelhof, Eversdal, Groenheuwel, Mbekweni, Magnolia, Orleansvale, Paarlzicht and Rondeheuwel.
The Val de Vie Foundation, in conjunction with Swingﬁt, tested the biomechanical skills of 151 aspiring Mbekweni golfers on the 26thof September at the Hope Through Action sports centre in Mbekweni. Our partner, Hope Through Action, recruited 8-12 year old learners from the local schools and promoted the event in the local community. Swingfit, together with the community support coaches and translators, were extremely proficient in their talent identification. After short listing 33 players, Swingfit and Hope Through Action selected 8 golfers for complimentary lessons at Pearl Valley’s Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course at Val de Vie Estate, based not only on their skills, but willingness to learn.
The Vodacom Shop Celebrity Golf Day, an annual highlight on the Western Cape golfing calendar, took place on the Pearl Valley Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on Val de Vie Estate. The auction dinner, hosted in the Pearl Valley Conference Centre, raised R700 000 in aid of the Val de Vie Foundation. The funds will be allocated to saving lives and empowering learners from the 19 severely under-resourced schools in the Paarl area, through addressing the issue of non-visible pedestrians. This year, the Val de Vie Foundation is helping to keep our children in school by providing reflective school bags and road safety awareness training, together with shoes with reflective strips to learners in the Valley. Approximately a quarter of Western Cape learners do not attend school and, while there are many contributing factors, road safety and a decent pair of school shoes are issues that can be addressed and transformed.
Through the generous donation by Pearl Valley golf members and Swingfit, the Mbekweni Kids Project has received golf clothes and clubs and mentorship in one of the most acclaimed golf courses in South Africa. The boys have been coming for weekly lessons at Pearl Valley and recently started taking part in our monthly Junior Competitions held on Sundays. Sondlo Mnqobi and Yamkela Spogter won both their divisions in their first round on the course!
Two new community centres for the Western Cape.
The Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille formally opened the new Franschhoek Valley Community Sport Centre, kicking off 4 days of celebrations. Joined by Executive Mayor Sidego of Stellenbosch, the British High Commissioner to South Africa, Judith Macgregor, and Hope Through Action’s patrons and Val de Vie residents, Philip and Judy Green, as well as our ambassadors Reuben Riffel and Ryk Neethling.
The new centre, the second in the Western Cape, includes a FIFA standard 3G pitch with seating for 300 spectators, training and meeting rooms, showers, and a resource centre. The centre will be managed by managing partner SCORE, and will offer sporting activities and life skills training for young people, especially those from the disadvantaged communities of the Paarl-Franschhoek Valley.
Tannie Ingrid worked as a domestic worker in Val de Vie with a big dream: to empower her community in Koelenhof. Inspired by Tannie Ingrid’s vision, Val de Vie helped her to establish a cleaning and staff company. Today she has her own business, Servant Hearted, which employs 40 people as waiters and cleaning staff for functions. Val de Vie is proud to make use of her impeccable services for all its functions.
Hope through Action is a local charity, started by Val de Vie Residents, Philip and Judy Green, which gave Pomella the opportunity to get ahead in life. The sport centre is located in Mbekweni and Val de Vie is proud to have been involved in raising funds for and supporting the growth of the project. After showing strong leadership qualities and helping out at the centre, Pomella met the Val de Vie Team at a Mandela Day initiative. To complement the sport and leadership programs at the Centre, Val de Vie Events started the Val de Vie Internship Programme, which included working at the estate’s restaurant. Pomella joined the program and she has progressed swiftly from waitress at our restaurant to joining the Val de Vie events team.
Cheslin Grobbler is the founder of Fleet Coffee Company, a business that provides quality coffee at events. Cheslin is passionate about empowering local youth and showing them alternatives to crime related activities. Fleet Coffee Company offers them barista training, employment opportunities and the chance to gain practical hands-on experience. Val de Vie shares Cheslin’s goals to lift the local community, which is why Fleet is our first choice for functions.
Camelita has always been a goal driven woman. After spending 9 years as a supervisor at a herb farm, she took an entry level position at Val de Vie in the full knowledge she was destined for something great.
She worked her way up from cleaner to Executive PA to Martin Venter, with all the responsibility and skillset that entails. She believes in the mantra that is you can dream it, with hard work you can do it. We at the Foundation see Camelita as a role model for the children of the valley. Never accept that you cannot rise out of challenging circumstances. She encourages every child to dream big, work hard and goals will be attained.
We are so proud of ‘our’ Camelita.