Runner-up to finance others

2013-09-14 00:00

MASTERCHEF South Africa runner-up Leandri van der Wat is planning to use her R100 000 prize money to help those less fortunate than herself.

The 23-year-old scientist from Mahikeng, who is busy doing her Masters degree in chemistry at the University of Pretoria, told Weekend Witness that she intended using some of her winnings to help a young girl called Maria, who lives in a children’s shelter in Mozambique, to get a much-needed hip operation.

“I met her when I was travelling around Africa doing volunteer work,” Van der Wat said. “I’ve been back a couple of times since then and got to know her well.”

She would also like to sponsor university fees for the daughter of a Zimbabwean man, named Dominic, who she met when he was selling brooms in her neighbourhood.

“We got chatting and I took him to dinner and got to know his family situation. He told me that he can’t afford to keep his daughter in varsity in Zimbabwe … I wanted to help,” Van der Wat said.

The talented amateur cook added: “I don’t feel the prize is mine for the keeping and so I plan to share it.”

Asked whether she planned to continue pursuing any culinary dreams, Van der Wat said she was planning to go to start a coffee roastery called Roast Republic with some friends.

“I’m very proud of it … we are doing it on a not-for-profit basis and will be generating funds to send kids to school, which is something very close to my heart.”

She and her sister Seline are also planning to write a cookbook together and to do private dinner parties to raise money for a fostercare network in the Gauteng area.

When she entered MasterChef, Van der Wat had no idea she’d make it past the cold auditions, let alone all the way to the final.

In fact, she only entered the show to support Seline, who finished third.

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