Christoline’s New Arrival

At 22 years of age, Christoline Engelbrecht is the youngest Red Cedar in the group but she is growing fast and branching out. She is attentive and curious, which makes her well suited to handling the finances for the Red Cedar business. Christoline has received training in Pastel, which has given her the necessary skills to do a good job.

The Red Cedar team received training in merchandising from a Canadian volunteer expert, Collette Bennet. The training included shop layout and presentation of product and Christoline was quick to absorb this information and is able to use it in a creative way.

In July 2007 the Indigenous Plant Use Forum (IPUF) was held at RAU. Christoline and Claudia were chosen to go – it was their first time on an aeroplane. They set up an eye-catching Red Cedar stand in the exhibition hall, where they sold products during the tea breaks in between attending lectures.

Christoline is originally from Langkloof, the furthest outlying substation of Wupperthal. Her father, John, came from Lambertsbaai to do building work in the Cedarberg area – this was how he met Christoline’s mother, Margaret. They settled in Langkloof where there was no school, so Christoline was sent to boarding school in Eselbank. As is the custom, she later attended school in Wupperthal and then went on to complete her schooling in Clanwilliam.

Christoline’s mother heard about the soap-making project at church and applied on behalf of her daughter, while she was still at school. Christoline’s application was accepted and she felt very lucky to have a job lined up for her so soon after she matriculated.

When Christoline first arrived in Wupperthal to work at Red Cedar she boarded with a school teacher. A couple of months later she met Colin and it was not long before she moved in with Colin’s family in Langbome.

By arrangement I met with Christoline and Colin at their home at 6 o’clock one morning to take photographs of the happy couple. I was concerned that it might be a little early but it seems that Colin gets up at sunrise so that he can start his work in the cool of the day. They say that ‘Every pot finds its lid’ and it seems that Colin and Christoline fit that description. After some years together they were eager to have a baby. Christoline is now 3 months pregnant but we still do not know – is it a boy or is it a girl? Colin’s parents are very supportive and treat Christoline like a daughter. They seem thrilled at the idea of having an extra pair of little feet pattering about the house.

At the moment Colin is doing some building work at the crèche – they are expanding in the hope of including more children from the outlying substations.

When he has finished with this job he will start work at the tea court, which is a hive of activity from January to April.

The local tea farmers deliver their bundles of harvested rooibos to the tea court by arrangement. The bundles are weighed and then the rooibos is fed through a machine, which reduces it to ‘tea cut’ size. The tea is placed in piles on the tea court where it is bruised and fermented. The fermented tea is then spread out and left to dry in the sun. Rooibos is a well known health drink and its benefits have been confirmed by research. The plant is rich in anti-oxidants, which also makes it an excellent choice as an ingredient for use on the skin and this is why Red Cedar is proud to use it in their cosmetic range.

In August of 2007 Christoline received access to a piece of land near her parents’ home, where she will farm rooibos. The tea court assisted with the preparation of the land by sending a tractor and tractor driver for which Christoline paid an hourly rate. With the help of Colin and her father and brother, she will plant her first harvest in June this year.

The Red Cedar team travelled to Cape Town for The Women’s Expo and The Professional Beauty Expo. Between the two expo’s Christoline and Gwen received more training in Pastel. One evening Marianna Smith organized a casual get-together, which was a decoy for a baby shower. Christoline was dressed in a nappy, had a potty placed on her head and was adorned with dummies and rattles. She played along without any resistance and giggled throughout the opening of her presents – she was rather good at guessing what was inside! A good time was enjoyed by all and her baby must surely be feeling very welcomed by the world, although it is probably quite comfortable where it is for the moment. The birth of the baby requires some planning because he or she is due in July, and this is the month when the river floods. Langbome can be cut off from the world for a few days when the river rises. The details still need to be worked out, but we can’t have her stuck on the wrong side of the river when the baby is ready to take on life in Wupperthal!

Christoline will get 4 months maternity leave but wants to return to work after that. She is fortunate that there is an eager grandmother waiting in the wings, willing to look after the little one. I am sure the baby will make regular visits to the soap factory over the years and, like the children of the other team members, will be joyfully welcomed as part of the greater Red Cedar team.