I met Bulawa during a recent visit to Fairview wine and cheese farm, and she immediately caught my attention. I don’t know if it was the beautiful smile, the quiet confidence or her professional attitude, but I knew she had a story to tell.
This is Bulawa’s story:
Bulawa was born in Sterkspruit, a rural area of Eastern Cape, in 1990 as the second oldest of four siblings. When she was only one year old, her father left for Cape Town to find a job that would enable him to support his family. He eventually found a job at Fairview where he is still working today, now as a foreman. When Bulawa was six years old, it was decided that she should join her father so that she could attend school without having to walk or travel long distances (as is the case for most children in rural areas of South Africa). “I was very skinny when I was young, and the teachers told my dad that I could start school at the age of 8, so I did my grade 1 in 1998 and stayed at that school until I had finished my last class in 2004. In 2005 I started high school, and in 2009 I matriculated. This was a very proud moment in my life as I knew I was going somewhere with the help of my education”.
During the June holiday in the year of her matriculation, Bulawa took on a temporary job as a cleaner in the Tasting Room at Fairview. “I only worked for 3 weeks but it was a real experience as, for the first time, I was working and earning my own money”. Unfortunately, she was not able to continue her studies after Matric, as her family was unable to support it. Instead, she returned to Fairview to continue working. Her natural curiosity led her to ask and learn about the history of Fairview, the cheese making process and how to cut cheese. She soon caught the attention of her managers, and it was not long until Bulawa was promoted to the front of house to welcome guests to the Tasting Room and work the tills. “This wasn’t easy due to my shy nature at the time, but I persevered and God gave the strength to hold on and to be positive”.
2012 was an unforgettable year for Bulawa. First, she was offered a permanent position as cheese tasting host, and in April the same year she was chose to be one of the participants to represent Fairview on a one-year exchange programme in Norway. “It was a dream come true for me, as I have always wanted to travel! I travelled around Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France. It was such a fantastic experience, and I learned so much”.
In October 2013 Bulawa returned to South Africa to continue her work at Fairview, armed with a new confidence and with a lifetime of memories.“It was lovely to see my family after a year away. I then met Luke, an extremely funny Englishman, who taught me that life is like a bunch of flowers; if you don’t refresh and change often you will wilt and die. That’s the end of my life story……Well, I hope not, I’m still young! I plan to meet my ‘Romeo’ in 3 years’ time and give him 6 children which I will all call Luke, after my hero, chief editor and inspiration”.
Regardless what the future holds for Bulawa, I am sure that she will continue to dream big and achieve amazing things!
Bulawa’s cheese and wine pairing tip:
Cream cheese with black pepper on bread with the Fairview Jakkalsfontein Shiraz