The VinPro Foundation celebrated its 5th birthday recently by hosting a party at the VinPro offices in Paarl. At the small, but jolly function, the Foundation took the opportunity to showcase some of their successes, sketch their plans for the future, and introduce some of their bursary students.

The Foundation focusses on three areas of development: ethical trade; harm reduction and early childhood development; and leadership and skills.

Great strides have been made in all of these areas over the last 5 years, largely due to the enthusiastic and dedicated team employed there, who not only raise funds and administer them, but get involved in developing initiatives that support a cross-section of the Cape Winelands community.

As part of the Leadership and Skills programme, 6 tertiary education bursaries have been awarded. We were privileged to meet Abongile Nxitywa, a final year B.Sc. Agri Science student at the University of Stellenbosch, majoring in Plant Pathology, and a recipient of one such bursary.

Abongile grew up in Qumbu, a small village near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape where her father is the primary school principal. She matriculated at St John’s College in Mthatha where Agriculture was one of her subjects: “Studying Agriculture got me interested in plant diseases and protection, so that’s what made me decide to study Plant Pathology,” says this bright young woman.

Unfortunately Abongile could not secure funding for her studies so her parents were forced to take out loans to cover her costs. Needless to say the family was over-joyed when, in her 3rd year, VinPro contacted Abongile, offering to pay for her tuition. “This was such a relief for me, because then I could focus on my studies instead of worrying about money all the time. It motivated me to strive even harder. It also made me feel positive and confident about my future.”

In a short speech at the function Abongile thanked the VinPro Foundation: “I thank you for your support and helping me pursue my dreams. Your generosity inspired me to help others and give back to the community. Your contribution makes the future of many students possible.”

Abongile will be graduating in December. “My parents are so excited and proud. They will be travelling down to be at the ceremony with me.”

In the meantime this accomplished young woman is applying for positions at various companies and dreaming of a big, bright future in agriculture.

- Julia Moore