Positive Impact

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Worker empowerment: Lettie Barron’s story continues to inspire

23 Jul 2019

Positive Impact

Lettie Barron (nee Marcus) has spent her whole life living “on top of the mountain” - the picturesque Piket-bo-Berg where the Fund’s farm is located - and began working on Hochland farm as a cleaner and kitchen worker almost '14 years’ ago.

Following the Agri Fund’s acquisition of the farm and the initiation of an adult education programme for the workers there, Lettie excelled in her studies and it was clear that she was suited for a more senior role. Thanks to her gift for working with people, she was promoted to ESG Co-ordinator in 2017, a significant role on a farm which extends over 1 000 hectares and employs around 250 people in the picking season. In Lettie’s own words “I sit in meetings with lawyers, different farm departments and the municipality, and this is all done for the workers of the farm”.

We featured Lettie in one of our quarterly reports in 2016, when her extraordinary positivity and leadership qualities were already evident, and her AET training fuelled her passion for learning and service to others.
Lettie is now head of the farm’s Equity Forum, and the farm’s various committees (including the Housing and Crèche Committees) fall under her responsibility. She has taken the opportunity to educate herself about the labour and employment laws of South Africa and is in frequent communication with the relevant government departments. She also conducts labour and health and safety audits, and arranges training courses for the farm workers. Despite balancing all of this together with her family responsibilities and her role as an ancillary health worker for the community living on the farm, Lettie is adamant that “every new responsibility for me is a privilege because it enriches me with knowledge I did not have before".

As a Fund, we are lucky to have someone like Lettie on our farm, with her intelligence and drive contributing to our success. We are also fortunate in that Lettie remains part of the farm-worker community and is a steadfast voice for them, allowing us all to gain the insights and build the relationships that are so crucial in rural South Africa. In her words ”My understanding of us on the farm as workers is that this farm is in all honesty our farm. The only thing we don’t have is money, so we don’t own the farm, but the farm is our home, our house, our safe haven, our security. This is where we were born, went to school, fell in love, got married, raised our children and lost loved ones.”

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