None of the children in Herberg Children´s Home in Robertson originate from homes and communities where the son proverbially always shines and where there is always lovely weather. The background of our children is characterised by dark and threatening clouds that sometimes creates the feeling of being pushed into the ground. Thunderchild very accurately describes our children in the most beautiful way – the wonderful power of nature. These children are nature’s wonders who fight through the most threatening and thundering clouds – children that overcome the darkness with the light and beauty and power of an electrical storm, in such a manner that we who deal with them, often stand amazed by their ability to shine brightly after darkness, trauma, hurt and longing. They are in the real sense true Thunderchildren.
The vineyard of the Herberg covers five hectares of land in Van Zyl Street adjacent to the home. Friends of the home suggested in 2002 that it would be more profitable to do away with the aged, unproductive apricot orchard and rather plant a vineyard. Local wine farming knowledge, as well as cellar facilities was made available for the maintenance and the eventual producing of wine.
The imagination of the Robertson community and individuals from all over was captured by this proposed project. Work was started with great enthusiasm and contributions in the form of fertilizer, soil preparation, plant material, irrigation and trellising, as well as labour and money were made available to launch the project without any costs for the children´s home. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot vines were planted Iin 2003 in equal amounts. It has grown so well that currently the vineyard is beautifully established. The wine that is being sold presently in 2010, is the first that is bottled and put on the market.
The Herberg originated in 1918 under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Church to care for orphans as a result of the flu–epidemic. The land on which the vineyard is situated, was made available to the children´s home in 1956. Today the home is a joint charitable non–profit programme of BADISA.
The present building of the home was erected in 1980 and makes provision for seven housing–units: three for girls, three for boys and one for babies and toddlers. The 122 children in care are from baby to 18 years of age, and come from different backgrounds. They are all removed from their parent–s care by means of a children–s court order. Their home circumstances are characterised by a variety of social problems, substance abuse, family violence, abuse (often sexual), psychiatric instability, behavioural problems, murder, rape, poverty, AIDS related deaths, etc.
The vision of the home is We build lives. This is being done by a residential care and developmental program for children in need of care with the aim to develop their potential and skills. The values of servitude, justice, stewardship and excellence, form the basis of our work. It is implemented by:
- creation of a safe, therapeutical environment;
- continuous liaison with parents and families to eventually reunify the child with his family of origin;
- recruiting and appointing well educated and trained child care staff and devoted volunteers;
- partnering with businesses, community organisations and government departments;
- applying sound business principles to ensure the rendering of a sustainable high standard of service;
- catering for all the physical, emotional, psychological, religious, educational, social and recreational needs of our children.
The government subsidizes more or less 48% of the monthly expenses of every child in the children’s home. The rest of the expenses must be fundraised by the home on a monthly basis. The profit of the wine sales will benefit the income of the home, so that it will be possible to cater optimally for the all encompassing care needs of every child
I tasted various wines at Wacky Wine this year in Robertson, but there was only one that touched my palate & heart. The label immediately caught my eye and I fell in love with the wine when I heard the story (even before I tasted it). The wine is called Thunderchild and is made from vineyards at the Robertson Children’s Home to raise funds.
My image of a Children’s Homes as cold, unhappy places were formed by stories & films, but this all changed when I met my friend Lorraine. She lived in a children’s home for a few years of her life and still says it was the happiest years of her childhood.
The Herberg Children’s Home was established in 1918 after the flu–epidemic. It now houses 122 children ranging from babies to 18 year olds. The vineyard is next to the Home in Robertson.
I saw and tasted Thunderchild 2008 at Springfield Wine Estate. They are one of the local wine producers that made their knowledge, time & cellar facilities available for the project. The wine is a Bordeaux style blend with 37% Cabernet Franc, 37% Merlot & 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and was made using an ancient technique. Uncrushed berries are fermented with native (wild) yeast on the grapes. The wine is complex with dark berry flavours & dustiness.
In 2002 it was suggested that they replace an unproductive apricot orchard with vineyards. Equal amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot were planted in 2003 on the five hectares. The touching part of the story is that this project was launched without any costs to the Children’s home. The Robertson community and individuals from outside the town provide everything that was necessary.
This year has been particularly stormy in the Cape and I am writing this as a big storm is brewing outside. It is such a powerful force that holds so much beauty, just like the children at the Home. “Thunderchild” refers to the ability of the Herberg’s children to fight through the dark & threatening thunderclouds in their backgrounds and shine through when it is all over.
A Registered Non-Profit seeking Organization (Registration Number: 011-891)