On Thursday 31 October, a new literacy and community centre opened in Citrusdal, Western Cape, South Africa. Cool Fresh International of Ridderkerk, The Netherlands, collaborated in this project with Capespan, Breadline Africa and the Balls-n-Books Foundation. Cool Fresh International has been funding and supporting social projects such as Stars in their Eyes for many years through the sales of their ethical brands Freedom Fruit and BonSweet.
The facility is housed in a refurbished container that was kindly donated by Safmarine. Over a period of six weeks, Breadline Africa’s container conversion team worked incredibly hard to refurbish the container, which now houses a mini-library and a multi-purpose lecture/meeting room. The primary use of the centre will be to host the Smartstart™ programme, an early learning literacy programme that is managed by Diaconia. In addition to the children in the Smartstart™ programme, the library will also be used by learners from the local primary schools. The facility was dedicated to the memory of the late Reverend Danielle Van Zyl, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2017.
The centre is located on the premises of the United Reformed Church of South Africa in Citrusdal, adjacent to the informal settlement and in the previously disadvantaged low-cost housing residential area. From this perspective, the centre fills a huge gap in the needs of the community for a meeting venue for small community groups, such as adult literacy training and life skills workshops.
After setting up a combined project in the Eastern Cape in 2017 – in which 10 Little Libraries were installed in care centres – Capespan’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Division and Cool Fresh International decided to extend the cooperation to the Western Cape. Hugo Vermeulen of Cool Fresh International says the following of the Citrusdal project: ‘Once again, we have seen that if like-minded organisations come together, great things can be achieved. All partners in this project worked selflessly to make it succeed. A big word of appreciation must also be extended to the volunteers who have committed to managing the centre to the benefit of the local community.’
Jan Greeve, chairman of The Balls-n-Books Foundation of The Netherlands sent a special message to the community of Citrusdal. He said: ‘Giving children a new vision is of crucial importance, as is helping them to understand that knowledge is power. The first objective is to make them hungry to open the books in the library and read.’
Ansonette van der Merwe, CSI Manager of Capespan Group said: ‘Facilities such as these create a anchor in needy communities, around which meaningful poverty- and inequality-alleviation programmes can be developed. We commend Diaconia and the Smartstarters’ tireless work since 2016, when the late Danielle van Zyl started this literacy development movement in Citrusdal, to improve the quality of life for our littlest pre-school community members – our country’s future!’
Marion Wagner, Director of Breadline Africa explained that the organisation was delighted to join this multi-faceted partnership. ‘We greatly value partnerships of this nature – where each participant brings a unique and much-needed element, creating a holistic intervention that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
‘It is through collaborations such as these that we are able to ensure the long-term sustainability of these projects, helping hundreds of children to discover the joy of getting lost in a book.’
A number of local dignitaries, as well as the CSR and commercial team of Capespan South Africa were represented at the opening of the centre.
For more information:
Cool Fresh International BV
Mob: +31 654 906 742