Mariana from Pebbles Project posing with her puppets.
Pebbles Project is a non-profit organisation in Stellenbosch that enriches the lives of disadvantaged farm children and families through education. Operating throughout the Western Cape, they have changed the lives of many vulnerable people. One of these people is Mariana, the daughter of a farmworker at Villiera in Stellenbosch.
Mariana grew up on Villiera, the wine farm in Stellenbosch where her father works. As a child, she attended the Pebbles Project After School Club on the farm. “My friends and I were so excited when we heard that an After School Club was opening on Villiera,” she remembers. Little did she know that the Pebbles Project After School Club would change her life forever…
One of the recreational activities that the After School Club offered as part of the Pebbles Project School Enrichment Programme is drama lessons. Mariana attended drama lessons and discovered her love for the performing arts: “I never knew that I had a passion for the arts, but after I started taking lessons, I knew that it was my calling.”
After she matriculated, Mariana was employed by the Pebbles Project as a fantasy play coordinator as part of the First Thousand Days Programme. “I loved to dress up and play different characters and to interact with the children,” Mariana says.
During that time, Mariana came to realise that she could incorporate her passion for the performing arts into her work. She dreamed of obtaining a degree in performing arts.
The Pebbles Project Early Adulthood Programme manager assisted Mariana in obtaining a bursary to persue a BTech Performing Arts Degree at Northlink College. One of Mariana’s proudest moments was when Northlink College phoned to inform her that she had been accepted to study there.
Mariana passed her degree with flying colours and Pebbles employed her as a Grade R Facilitator and Puppeteer.
The children are in awe of Mariana’s talent. Her puppet named “Samantha” is an all-time favourite! Mariana loves to see the children’s faces light up every time she introduces them to the puppet.
When Mariana fell pregnant, she was the first mother to be a part of the Pebbles Project Baby Box Programme. This programme provides pregnant mothers with antenatal and postnatal support to promote healthy pregnancies.
Mariana showing off the box filled with baby essentials she received as part of the Pebbles Project Baby Box Programme.
With support from the Pebbles Project, Mariana was able to discover her passion, obtain her degree, and incorporate her passion into her work. Mariana would like to inspire others to do the same: “If an organisation like Pebbles offers you an opportunity, grab it with both hands. It will benefit your life in a big way. I am very grateful to Pebbles.”
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.