Ms. Shineen October
Note to the reader
Shineen October is 16 years old and is the daughter of Dennis October, farm worker at the Lilienfontein Estate. Lilienfontein is part of Bosman Family Vineyards and is based in Wellington, Western Cape, South Africa. The farm became Fairtrade accredited in 2009 for its wine grapes. Here is the story about how Fairtrade has contributed to change Shineen's life.
On Saturday, 25 July 2011, 16-year-old Shineen October fastened her seat belt, ready for take off. Her plane was about to depart from Cape Town to Sydney, Australia, where she would take part in the 7th Commonwealth Karate Championships. The bustle of Sydney’s streets would be worlds apart from the peaceful farm she lives on. Tucked away in the shadow of the majestic Limiet Mountain lays the Lelienfontein Estate, a farm that has been in the Bosman family since 1798.
Bosman Family Vineyards
At a milestone-marking event in January 2009, a joint venture between the Bosman family and the workers at Lilienfontein was birthed, forming the largest land reform partnership in the wine industry. “The Adama empowerment project turned [land reform] challenges into great opportunities: 260 permanent farm workers formed the Adama Appollo Trust of which they all are now beneficiaries. 430 hectares of [prime vineyard] land was included in the project, with Adama Trust acquiring a fifty percent share in the land,” Petrus Bosman, director of JC Bosman Farming, says. “The transaction also included a thirty percent share in the Bosman Family Vineyards cellar on Lelienfontein Estate and a five percent share in the operational farming concern, Lelienfontein Vinegrowers, Africa’s biggest vine nursery.”
With an impressive list of social and environmental responsibility initiatives and a long history of social awareness, dating back to the days of slavery, it is clear that Bosman family is devoted to the betterment of the community of farm workers. The family has a legacy of investing into future generations and the new generation of farm workers’ children is no exception. This commitment was further strengthened by gaining Fairtrade certification in 2009.
(Lilienfontein Estate in Wellington)
Shineen, the eldest of five siblings, is a hard-working grade 10 learner at Bergrivier High School in the small agricultural town of Wellington where she boards each week. Her close-knit family lives in a humble, but well-kept brick home on the estate. Shineen seems reserved at first, but it is obvious that she is popular among her peers and well loved by the community on the Bosman’s estate.
Her father, Dennis October, traded the rolling Canola hills near Napier in the Overberg region of the Western Cape for the lush vineyards of the Cape Winelands nearly 21 years ago. Here he met his wife, Elsie, and started his career on Lelienfontein Estate as a general worker. “Those were humble days,” Dennis remarks. “Finances were tight. Things were tough.” Dennis has a zest for life and today he is a dependable service driver on the estate, a role that earned him hero-status when he drove a female co-worker, who was about to go into labour, to the hospital in the small hours of one morning. “He is always ready to help,” Neil Buchner, marketing and brand manager of Bosman Family Vineyards, says.
Shineen was introduced to karate through the Bosman Farming Karate Club, an initiative started on the farm to keep farm workers’ children occupied. The club is associated with the Hiyisha Karate Club in Paarl, a short 20-minute drive from Wellington. Shineen is one of 15 members of the club and the winner of her category, Katakumite, for three consecutive years.
Shineen fits four hours of training in between schoolwork with much dedication. It is hard to believe that she wasn’t keen, at first, to join the karate club. When her father dropped her off at the Hiyisha Karate Club when she was nine-years-old, she wanted to run away. But, seven years later, Shineen came home with the exciting news that she would have the opportunity to compete internationally.
“I would do anything within my power to help my daughter succeed,” Dennis says looking at his daughter. “But I couldn’t pay the airfare [to Sydney].” Dennis recalls that it wasn’t easy to convince the committee that oversees the spending of the Fairtrade Premium to cover Shineen’s travelling costs and he had resolved to approach the Bosman family for a loan. “Then, when they saw that it was for a good purpose, they agreed,” he says.
“I really enjoyed the experience,” Shineen says about the trip. “Even though I was a bit sick.” The competition was tough and Shineen did not progress as far as she had hoped, but her father is supportive: “I’ve told her to keep at it. Someday she’ll get there.”
The Fairtrade Premium is a sum of money paid by traders on top of the product price. It allows farm workers to invest in projects they consider necessary for their communities. Shineen’s example has inspired a watershed in the committee’s outlook on the development of farm workers’ children. They have since bought karate uniforms for the karate squad and plans for a fully-fledged karate club are in the pipeline. Other projects the committee has tackled include the renovation of two farm crèches, tiling of workers’ homes, stocking of a library on the estate and development of a computer centre.
Shineen is eager to kick-start the farm’s karate club to teach karate and self-defence. She has already been spotted informally showing a handful of children a few techniques in the horse paddock. Neil Buchner reports that the club will be up and running in the near future.
Dennis October is instilling a love for life and consistent hard work in his children. “You won’t get anywhere without hard work,” he says. Likewise the Bosman family strongly advocates that everyone works for the common good, a thriving farm. With her determination, the aid of the Fairtrade Premium and the support of the Lelienfontein community, Shineen’s success is sure. “As the saying goes,” Neil says, “Where there is a vineyard there is civilisation."
[This story was written by Margaret Jansen on behalf of Fairtrade Label South Africa]
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How can I contribute?
For every bottle of Fairtrade wine sold, 55 cents are paid in Fairtrade Premium to the farm workers. The Premium is invested in projects for the social and economic development of farm workers, their families and communities - such as the funding of a Karate club and the sponsorship of Shineen's adventure to Australia. Bosman's wine range include the Bosman Family Vineyards label as well as the Appollis one. Visit our product page for more information about the wines.
I want to know more!
Visit Bosman Family Vineyard's website and learn more about the farm, their wines and the community: www.bosmanwines.com
Follow Bosman on Facebook and Twitter.
Watch this video about the history of the Bosman and Appollis families throughout the generations:
Here Petrus Bosman explains about empowerment and Fairtrade:
Here an overview of Bosman Family Vineyards (in afrikaans):