Oulap is a famed country house built in sandstone nestled among the towering Swartberg Mountains in the Klein Karoo. It overlooks vistas in every direction of ancient landscapes. At night a ceiling of stars stretches to distant horizons. The owners are Jans and Almeri Rautenbach.
Born in Boksburg in 1936, Jans Rautenbach is arguably South Africa’s most celebrated filmmaker.
While experiencing the wonderful food and hospitality of Jans and Almeri last week, as a stopover on our cycle tour of the Little Karoo, Jans was asked which of his films was his favourite. His reply was “Die Kandidaat is my geliefste film, want dit was my eerste. Daarna was daar nie meer ‘n eerste nie…” (Die Kandidaat is my favourite film because it was my first. After that there was never again a first…).
Ouplap and discussions around the myths, stories and legends of the Little Karoo aside, Jan and Almeri’s pride and joy is the school that they have established on the road to Oulap. There are 126 pupils at this school. On our tour of the school our group was hugely impressed with the well laid out grounds, cleanliness, order and impeccably behaved children who have bonded with dedicated and responsive teachers.
Guy and I could not believe how this small school, guided and funded by the Rautenbach’s and other donors, has developed since we first visited it five years ago. We were deeply impressed.
Most of these children, before the school was established, would have little to eat in a day; many of the parents of these children are unemployed. Because of the abject poverty from which they come, the Rautenbach’s have organised that the children get a full dinner at about ten in the morning and all the children are given a pack of sandwiches at the end of the school day.
Chained up with the Dogs
One of these small children, before he was taken in by the school, was found chained up with the dogs in the backyard of a hovel. He looks like a little pixie as a result of lack of nutrition and abuse before him came to the school. The Rautenbach’s have given him a chance in life.
We were also introduced to a student who is in matric this year. She has elderly parents who are no longer working. Through funding by a sponsor and sheer hard work and determination, she is now in her final year of school. Her wishes are to further her education by training as a school teacher so that she can give back to the community and care for her parents.
Lives Changed Through Vision, Determination and Will Power
It is so inspiring to see how many lives have changed through the vision, determination and will power of just one man to make a difference.
If each one of us can make a difference in the life of just one person, imagine the future we could create for our country. The times that South Africa has been successful are the times when we have walked together – the birth of our Rainbow Nation in 1994, winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995, hosting of one of the most successful FIFA World Cup’s ever.
South Africa – Hope to all Humanity
When we look at the world today, South Africa is the one country that gives hope to all of humanity. We are a microcosm of the world. We have dark skinned and light skinned people, we have the rich and the poor, and we have eleven official languages and many different cultures.
The rest of the world still considers our transition from Apartheid to Democracy, without a civil war, as a miracle.
Imagine if we could, together, create the next miracle – a country where we are not judged by what we own or the colour of their skin. Where we are recognised for whom we are as a person and for what we have contributed to society. Where we are recognised for what we have done for our country to make it a better place for all those who live in it.
We have it in us to become the country that we would like to become – a caring country where every single person matters. Each one of us has the choice to make a difference. It is up to us!