Fairhills Heroes (3)

21 Jul

Alitha Pithey
Clinical psychologist to Fairhills

Alitha Pithey has been involved with the project since June 2007 on a volunteer basis and officially since 2008. Her M-thesis focussed on psychological strengths in an African context. She looked at how communities in the Northern Cape of South Africa who are subjected to various stressors such as HIV, crime and unemployment, manage to function so well in the face of this. Currently she is working on her PhD. Alitha is married and lives in Rawsonville. She is much loved by our communtiy for her support of people like Dawid Kiewiets and Isak Anderson. In what she does, to us, she firmly belongs to the “I am Fairhills” drive. We spoke to her about her work.

  1. What motivated you to work in this area?
    As part of my training as clinical psychologist I had to do a community service year in Worcester in 2007. I lived in Rawsonville where I fell in love with the people and came to see their specific needs and the challenges they face.
  2. Wat does your job entail?
    I am responsible for the emotional well-being of the workers. That means addressing any issue such as depression, aggression, trauma of any kind, substance abuse, marital problems, grieving, parental guidance. All of it. All the workers on the farms, in the daycare, aftercare, craftshop and celler fall under my care. If something falls outside of my field of interest, for example a medical issue, I refer them to the correct help.
  3. What are some of your biggest challenges?
    Everyone has my cell number and they have immediate access to me. Addressing every refereral happens within 24 hours. However, being a rural community, there are often communication hindrances like limited access to landlines, cellphone signals and transport. It is also an emotionally taxing job. It’s challenging because you do not always get the recognition for your input. But then there are the success stories in the program. Every bit helps. Even if you don’t see tangible differences immediately, I believe in the growth that you don’t see, happening in the soil when you plant a seed.
  4. How did you win the trust of people?
    I remained humble. People know their lives best and are the custodians of their own future. I am only there to facilitate and help where and when needed.
  5. How are the producers involved?
    They are all well-informed about my role and immediately contact me if they are concerned about a worker. And before finally firing someone they will phone me first to organise help and intervention.
  6. The wine industry has, rightly or wrongly, a lot of baggage surrounding the issue of alchohol abuse. Working with this problem on a daily basis, what is your view?
    There are various debates surrounding the issue. For years now workers have not received alchohol on the farms. Recent studies showed that the DOP-system (where farm labourers where paid in alchohol) cannot wholly be held responsible for the current problem. Research also showed that the lack of healthy recreational possibilities worsens the problem. In the end, the fact is, there is a problem. What are we doing about it? We here at Fairhills need more investment to create even better networks for people.

One Response to “Fairhills Heroes (3)”


  1. Fairhills Heroes (1) | World of Fairhills's Blog - July 21, 2010

    […] the services of a psychologist who is on 24h […]

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