#WINEFORGOOD: Lives changed, R5 at a time

Tuesday, 7 April, 2020
StreetSmart SA
StreetSmart South Africa raises funds for street children projects through participating restaurants, accommodation establishments and wine tasting centres. Launched in 2005, they have been changing the lives of children, R5 at a time, for fifteen years with many good news stories from beneficiaries to share.

When confronted with a street child at your car window or on your way into a restaurant, you probably wonder what to do. Maybe sometimes you give something to get rid of the child or maybe you feel guilty about your own privilege. Is giving money on the street really helping at all? Despite our best intentions, giving money to a child on the street keeps that child on the street. 

Based on a 'dine and donate' principle, StreetSmartSA funds are raised through participating restaurants, that agree to automatically add a voluntary R5 to each table bill. Diners are free to decline or donate more. Can R5 really change a life? With enough support, many drops make a river and many R5's have disbursed over R1 million per year for the past six years to beneficiary organisations.

With many of the country's best restaurants located in the winelands, many of the Cape Town fundraising partners are winery restaurants such as Jordan Restaurant, Neethlingshof, Waterkloof Restaurant and as of 2018 wine tasting rooms and wineland accommodation have also joined in the effort to normalise the lives of vulnerable children. In 2019, online wine hub, wine.co.za added a StreetSmart donation option to their online shop checkout process, showing that there really are endless ways to make a contribution.

Beneficiary organisations are doing the work, on the ground, putting in time, effort and resources towards family reunification, education and skills training programmes for street children, and children at risk of becoming street children. And there have been success stories. Lives changed, Five rand at a time. Meet the beneficiaries:

The Homestead 

Denis stands out not only because of what he overcame, but also because of what he achieved.  After a traumatic and abusive childhood, Denis ended up as a small boy on the streets of Kenya, eventually making his way down through Africa to Cape Town where he was found on the street and admitted to the Homestead eight years ago.  Denis was a challenging child, with his aversion to going to school.  However, once he showed an interest in weightlifting and wanted the Homestead to pay for his gym, a deal was struck to pay for gym, if he attended school.  Denis did very well with his gym, winning several trophies for weight-lifting. However, at one stage he stopped going to school again, so the payment for his gym stopped.  This upset him tremendously, but after a bit of negotiation he returned to school and was eventually allowed to continue his weightlifting.  As the years passed Denis settled and got much better at going to school and ended up doing better than most, with a university pass Matric at the end of 2018.

Family reunification for Denis was, however, always going to be very difficult because the Homestead had to track down his family in Kenya, make contact with them, drive Denis to Johannesburg to get all his papers in order, and at the beginning of 2019, fly him home to his family in Kenya. 

Denis is now happily reunited with his Grandmother, has started teaching at the local school, and is set to start his university studies in Kenya next year!

The Kusasa Project

Through the approach of focusing on the entire family system, as opposed to only on the individual children, during 2019, we have seen a marked improvement in the lives of families.

Despite being a good student, Mary-Anne was born into a family with a history of alcohol and drug abuse. Her mother was exposed to physical and emotional abuse herself and had a very disruptive and dysfunctional childhood. Through the platform of our parent workshops, her mother was able to come to terms with some of the challenges of her own upbringing. She has been able to release the anger that she has felt and focus on her role as a mother. She has been able to learn new skills for parenting Mary-Anne and in turn break the cycle of dominating and abusive parenting styles.

Mary-Anne's mother: “A broken mother will raise broken children. I want to be a fixed mother who raises fixed children!”

Sinethemba Youth Projects

Waydon Kiwido (10 years) grew up in a dysfunctional household with his single mother and two older brothers. His mother who is an alcoholic lost her job at the end of 2018 and as a result they went to bed most nights without food. During a one-on-one session Waydon said that most days the meal he had at school was the only meal for the day. It was during that time that his behaviour at school drastically changed for the worst. He would bully smaller boys, hitting them viciously in the school ablution block and swearing at the teachers. He would bunk and disrupt classes of mostly female teachers and became the contender for the most rude and unwanted child at school in no time. Parents of the children being bullied by him requested the school to take a stand and remove him from the school. The school unsuccessfully tried to get his mother to come and talk to them. The Principal then decided to refer the case to the Department of Education’s local district office. They approached Sinethemba to enrol him in the Drop-in Centre programme for the time being. During that time, he had to be taken to the school to check in every 7th day to keep him on the school register.

For the whole 1st quarter (January – March) Waydon attended the Sinethemba life and social skills programme. His mother also started to participate in the parent programmes. He was reintegrated into the same school in April and was impressing his critics at the school almost every day. “He is now even wearing a tie to school”, one of the teachers said. He recently got three medals for participating in the cycle club in Knysna.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”  — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

Get involved with StreetSmart SA here


MORE ON #WINEFORGOOD

There are plenty of good news stories about upliftment and transformation in the South African Wine Industry. The #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. Share them far and wide and spread the good news about South African wine.





Margi Biggs, Nils Heckscher & Melanie Burke - founding members
Margi Biggs, Nils Heckscher & Melanie Burke - founding members

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