Lettie Marcus, one of the workers on the Fund’s Piketberg farm, describes how life has changed for her since the Fund acquired the farm:
“I started working on the farm ten years’ ago. I thought I would always be cleaning and in the kitchen. But (with the Fund) I was given the opportunity to develop myself and I took the opportunity to learn. I had no understanding in the past of things about our land, where cities were or how the climate worked. Now I know all these things and it makes me look at things in a new way. Now I can assist my daughter with her mathematics and geography.”
Today, Lettie is the farm’s ESG co-ordinator, part of the management structure, and one of four trained community healthcare workers on the farm. She is also a member of the farm’s health committee, housing committee, women’s forum and school board. Lettie has been an outstanding ambassador for the Fund’s AET programme. In 2015 she achieved As in her three level four exams and is now planning to finish her Matric. She completed her ancillary healthcare training in November 2015 and is proud to be able to work together with formal health services to promote health in the farming community.
“The empowerment of the community is for real on this farm. All people involved make you feel respected. In the workers’ committee people listen to each other. It doesn’t matter what your formal qualifications are, your voice matters. We have a farm shop, run by ourselves. This gives access to basic needs so we don’t have to go to town for everything. We have an adult education and meeting room where we can have meetings and where the older children can also sit after school if they know how to work on a computer. We have a crèche, so people with young children can also go to work safely. The crèche ladies had training and the Fund purchased a minivan we can use to fetch the children from their houses to get to the crèche safely.” Lettie has raised her five children on her own since her husband died in a car accident.
Her eldest son has completed his farm management training and is now working at the Cape Agency for Sustainable Integrated Development in Rural Areas (Casidra) and her eldest daughter is a packhouse supervisor on a neighbouring farm. Her words “working with people is my passion – that’s where my heart is” are borne out in all her endeavours. And she is not done yet. “I want to stay on the farm when I grow old. I want to start a mentorship camp for young people, ensuring they don’t go astray. Also, for the elderly I want to organise community based activities, like playing dominos and other activities to keep the brain active. The future looks good to me.”