11 September 2018

“When we read, we are able to travel to many places, meet many people and understand the world”

Nelson Mandela

On a brilliant sunshine-filled day in July, you could almost touch the Madiba Magic all around at Langabuya Primary School, Mbekweni. On July 18th, we were able to honour Madiba through our words and deeds and find the Madiba in all of us.

The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Drakenstein Child Health Study (DCHS)*, together with The Val de Vie Foundation, Solomon Schechter Day School USA and Breadline Africa, took up the challenge to be the legacy by providing a library to the school. In Madiba’s own words: “Children are our greatest treasure, they are our future!”

Langabuya Primary School learners in Mbekweni, Paarl, face many challenges both at home and at school. Parents of learners are often only employed seasonally in the wine industry and households remain largely dependent on social grants. In addition, the community is seriously affected by the HIV epidemic and at least 50 children are maintained in the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme.

By providing this library we hope, together with the school teachers and parents, to inspire the Langabuya pupils to learn the love of reading.  Former USA President Barack Obama said in his Nelson Mandela lecture that with the internet, a child in the remotest village can now have all the wisdom of the world at his fingertips.  We hope that our library is but the start of that incredible journey that will turn these Learners into Leaders.

Volunteers from Val de Vie and DCHS read live to each of the learners and then all 1500 learners and 40 teachers were treated to fresh fruit and a commemorative bookmark designed in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The official dedication commenced with a prayer from Pastor Hans, a Langabuya fast learner, and an address from Drakenstein Executive Mayor Conrad Poole. Professor Heather Zar, Chair of UCT Department Pediatrics ably doubled as master of ceremonies and keynote speaker on why UCT is focusing on Langabuya and Paarl East with their study.

When the principal, Mr Fiki, stood up to address the gathering, the audience broke out into a song of praise.

But it was the school choir singing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and Happy Birthday Madiba that ensured there was not a dry eye in the house.

For further enquiries on the DCHS study, please contact Marina Lawrence at

* DCHS is conducting a large longitudinal research study to investigate risk and protective factors for child health outcomes from birth through to 5 years of age. The study is carried out in two vulnerable communities in Paarl; Mbekweni and Paarl East.

The Val de Vie Foundation was founded in 2015 based on a strong focus on giving back to the larger community to help create a better life for all. The development company, Val de Vie Investments (Pty) Ltd, has committed 1% of all developer sales income to the Foundation. All of the new Home Owners’ Associations allocate 5% of levy income from new developments to the Foundation. In less than three years, more than R8 million has been allocated to the Val de Vie Foundation to support numerous viable community projects in the Paarl-Franschhoek Valley. Through its implementation partner Valcare – who is responsible for the intervention, project identification, monitoring and evaluation – the Val de Vie Foundation supports close to forty organisations in the Valley.

Click HERE to listen to an interview with Lorraine Hadfield on Good Hope FM, talking about the project.

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