#wineforgood: Pebbles Project Changing Lives

Tuesday, 2 April, 2019
Sophia Warner, founder of the Pebbles Project, dropped a pebble into the South African Winelands in 2004, and the ripples are reaching right across the Western Cape from Citrusdal to Wellington, Somerset West, Stellenbosch and Hermanus (Hemel en Aarde) and there seems to be no stopping it.

The Pebbles Project's purpose is to enrich the lives of children from disadvantaged backgrounds with special educational needs, especially those whose lives are affected by alcohol, through providing support and training to local wine farm and township créches and establishing after-school provision for older children living in the Winelands. Since inception in 2004, they have impacted the lives of 1000s of children and their families by providing support and intervention in five key areas: Education, Health, Nutrition, Community and Protection

Pebbles has a big focus on education starting with providing expectant mothers with important information about their pregnancy and childbirth, to ensure the wellness of both mother and baby through their Baby Box Programme. Their Early Childhood Development Programme is a carefully constructed curriculum for children between the ages of 0 – 6 with all the necessary resources, equipment, parent support and educational support. The After School Club Programme gives some extra support to parents to balance work through homework supervision, academic support and fun and exciting extra mural activities for school-going children between the ages of 7 – 18.

Some of the children who started at Pebbles 14 years ago are now graduating from various colleges, and already there are 8 in the graduate list!

The School Leavers' programme is a very important focus of the Pebbles Project and Mineke Toerien and Bernadette November, who run it, clearly have the right approach. When asking Bernadette what she does she responds "'Whatever it takes!"'
This sentiment clearly reflects how the Pebbles team operate and this culture of getting things done, no matter what, is tangibly present throughout the organisation.

The first graduate to go through the School Leavers' programme is Abigal Rose, who grew up on Eikendal farm just outside Somerset West. Her stepfather is a general farm worker there, and her mum is a cleaner at a guest house in Stellenbosch. 


Access to quality health care services remains a major issue in South Africa, especially for rural children living in farming communities of the Western Cape.

Pebbles Project’s solution to this problem, together with the Cipla Foundation, was to build South Africa’s first ever modular health care clinic based at the Pebbles offices on Villiera Wine Farm. The Owethu clinic provides much-needed affordable primary health and dental care to the local farming communities.

Launched in late 2013 the Owethu Clinic currently offers health services to eight farms with a total of 792 children on the Hello Health Database. Established as a result of a major donation of clinic infrastructure from the Cipla Foundation and support from Villiera wine farm, the clinic offers a free service to the children, with adults paying a nominal monthly contribution, from neighbouring farms in the form of basic medical and dental services, family planning and wellness programmes.

The latest victory at pebbles was the opening of the Pebbles Kitchen. The Pebbles Project’s nutrition programme started in 2014 when the organisation identified that the children attending their Early Childhood Development (ECD) and After-School Clubs (ASC) centres were not receiving the balanced daily nutritional input that they needed in order to learn and thrive. Nutrition interventions at school-age offers direct benefits for school children, because in addition to improving child nutrition and learning, school feeding has been shown to increase concentration in children and improved school enrolment and attendance as children are more likely to go and stay in school.

Pebbles was approached by Stichting Clouds Foundation (Holland) in 2013; who committed to fund their nutrition programme. In 2014 Pebbles began feeding 258 ECD children breakfast and lunch including two snacks daily and the numbers increased to include the ASC children in 2015. The programme has since grown to cater for just under 1000 beneficiary children in 2018.

Until now Pebbles have purchased daily prepared meals from an external service provider, but the dream has always been to own a commercial kitchen where they can prepare high-quality, reasonably-cost and nutritious meals. After extensive research conducted in 2015 and commitment by the Stichting Clouds Foundation & Goede Mensen to fund this huge undertaking, the dream has become a reality!

 “This kitchen is a dream come true, instead of relying on other service providers, we are able to prepare and deliver healthy meals to our children, as well as creating employment for currently 6 employees, with potential to grow in the future.” says Sophia Warner, Founder & Director of Pebbles. “Not only will this facility be a great opportunity for Pebbles to provide youth employment, training and internship programmes but also look towards creating small commercial vegetable gardens next to their learning centres which will supply the kitchen, teaching entrepreneurship, farming and business skills.”

The Pebbles new kitchen has the capacity to cook up to 5000 meals per day, although will only commence with 1300. Healthy meals are cooked daily, blast frozen and distributed to the learning facilities in Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Hermanus, Wellington and Citrusdal. They are also providing meals to two other charities based in Franschhoek and hope to grow this to supply many other NPOs in the greater Winelands area.



There are plenty of good news stories about upliftment and transformation in the South African Wine Industry. This #wineforgood website, launched by wine.co.za in June 2016, hosts all the positive stories from the winelands, of which there are plenty. wine.co.za has made April a focus for #wineforgood stories, being Freedom Month, as South Africa celebrates 25 years of democracy.
Please share your stories with us and share these stories with the rest of the world.
Email editor@wine.co.za

Owethu Clinic
Owethu Clinic

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