“Come on Thunder Child, Come on Thunder Child”

This is not just a quote from the HG Wells inspired movie, ‘The War of the Worlds’ referring to the ironclad boat that bravely sailed out to meet the invading Martians.

It is also the name of a wine, made in Robertson by the community in support of the local children’s home.

The origin of the institution, The Herberg Children’s Home, also has an interesting story. This year, a century ago marks the flu epidemic that swept across the world killing 50 million globally and 500 000 in South Africa. Many children were left orphans in the wake of this devastating pandemic, and the Robertson community was not spared.

So the community got together to tackle the problem of the orphans among them and so the Herberg Children’s Home came into being. Land was donated, buildings erected, children clothed and fed. Being a farming community, the Herberg owned a 5 hectare piece of land adjacent to the Home, the fruit of which was sold to provide them with an income. However, about 15 years ago stone fruit prices were falling and wine sales were climbing, so the townsfolk decided to uproot the fruit trees and plant vines instead with the goal of making wine and selling it to raise more funds.

What followed was a monumental exercise in generosity, selflessness and compassion by the Robertson region. Everything used to establish the vineyard was donated – from the machinery used to prepare the soil, the fertilizers, the actual vines themselves, as well as the labour and expertise needed to plant the vines and manage the land. After years of carefully tending the vines, the first wine from the Herberg’s vineyard was finally made in 2008. It is a red blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and it was made using only natural yeast and uncrushed, unpressed grapes, resulting in a beautifully complex wine with notes of cassis and red fruits, complemented by velvety tannins.

The wine is sold in several wineries on the Robertson Wine Route, and is also shown at international shows along with the rest of Robertson’s impressive line-up.

The proceeds of the sale of this wine go straight to the Children’s Home. However, it does not go into the general budget, but is earmarked for specific projects to enhance the overall education of the children so that when they leave the Children’s Home one day, they will be able to apply at tertiary institutions to further their studies so that they can provide for themselves one day.

To this end, Thunderchild funds a full-time teacher who provides extra Maths tuition to every single child from Gr4 to matric. In addition Thunderchild funds matriculants who are able to advance their studies at universities and colleges, and the wine’s sales also provides sports scholarships to individuals with potential.

Many wonder about the name Thunderchild, but a quick visit to the Herberg Children’s Home will show how a child from desperate, ‘stormy’ circumstances, can find new life and new beginnings in a place of safety and love.

The Thunderchild project aims to bring a ray of light on the horizon of often hopeless circumstances and continues the spirit of resourcefulness and care shown by the founders of this special place 100 years ago. Just like the brave little ship in ‘War of the Worlds’, this project endeavours to equip and inspire each child to go out into the world and tackle it head-on.

For more information visit www.thunderchild.co.za

- Julia Moore