Something we take very seriously at Oldenburg is our responsibility to our staff, their community and the local community in general of which we are a part. The past in South Africa has left many disadvantaged and whilst we realise that it is impossible to go back in time and correct things, it is entirely possible to take actions each and every day to help provide programs that allow advancement and what is locally known as ‘upliftment’.
Currently our major project is to provide housing for our retired staff. The tradition in the Cape was for the farm workers to live on the farm for their entire lives. Unfortunately the legacy of this created a situation whereby home ownership becomes impossible. Over the past seven years we have been working to provide housing to all previously employed staff, given them outright ownership. Much work has gone into this as sourcing housing in the right locations has proven to be very difficult. We have had much success and in 2010 we are finally able to complete the current program. We feel that the transfer of ownership provides a secure and sizeable asset for the families involved.
By virtue of this program we have been able to reduce the number of people living on the farm to just those employed, and their families. In 2003 there were just over 120 people living on the farm. The home ownership program enabled these people to move into their local community and allowed us to provide our immediate staff and families (now less than 20) with a quieter, friendlier, safer and more comfortable environment.
Education and training are also very important to any upliftment. We provide all of our employees with various opportunities to further their own skills, which will allow them to advance themselves. Support is also offered to the staff’s families to encourage their children to complete secondary schooling, and in time, tertiary education.
We provide support to our local community, Kylemore, through contributions to the Rugby Club, and the Kylemore Brass Band, often seen at Oldenburg. Also where possible we help local business with advice and assistance. We have a small church on the farm that was renovated under the watchful eye of Dorothy; this provides a place for weekly prayers and Sunday church services.
As Oldenburg grows it is our intention to do more, particularly through programs that provide advancement. This, we feel, is the way for us to help move our community and South Africa in general, forward.