Khayelitsha Soup Kitchen Feeds Hungry Local Children
With the onset of winter, a Khayelitsha soup kitchen is hoping to receive eco-friendly hemp premises.
Olivier said the hemp house would be the third of its kind to be built in the country. “It’s warmer in winter and cooler in summer, relatively quick to build and has health benefits. So instead of cold, damp concrete, it’s providing the cleanest, healthiest environment and a warm, nurturing place for the children.”
They hope to start construction next month.
Winniefred Linda, 59, who runs the Yiza Ekhaya Soup Kitchen, is holding thumbs that the project gets off the ground.
Linda started the soup kitchen six years ago in her home, but when more and more hungry children arrived at her door she needed a bigger place. She then had a shack built on her neighbour’s plot. But she has been forced to leave.
GreenHome managing director Catherine Morris said the idea for the house came when she heard of the soup kitchen’s plight.
She first met Linda when she helped plant a vegetable patch on Mandela Day four years ago.
When she got the call from Linda she started looking for eco-friendly options, said Morris.
She discovered the benefits of hemp, the fibre derived from the cannabis plant. However, it is illegal to grow industrial hemp in South Africa without a permit from the Department of Health.
“It’s a plant that can be grown in a couple of months and it’s renewable and a better insulator than cement. It’s exciting because you can basically grow your own house.”
This week the Weekend Argus visited Linda’s soup kitchen. Two queues of pupils in school uniform were already waiting outside. Some of the children were washing their hands in a plastic basin while Linda and her four volunteers dished up pap and samp in plastic plates or in lunchboxes the children brought along.
The soup kitchen serves three meals a day, breakfast from 6am to children and at 10am breakfast is served to patients from a local clinic. Later, it is time for lunch.
The community fondly refers to Linda as “Nompilo”, which means health. She recalled the day she got the idea to start feeding the poor. She saw a man crawling in pain to her home.
“I asked him what’s wrong and he said his stomach was cramping. I helped him into my house and found out he had taken ARVs without eating. I gave him a plate of food. Afterwards he sat back and said, ‘Mamma, you saved my life.’”
The ill man became one of the first 40 people she started cooking for.
Today that number has grown to around 250, mostly children. Volunteers also deliver meals to bedridden patients.
Linda said many of the kids were “neglected” and often had young parents who abused alcohol and drugs.
“They come here barefoot and haven’t washed. Some cry because they are so hungry.”
Some of the children sleep over at the soup kitchen to escape troubled homes.
“Last year there was a boy about 7, he had a blue eye and was crying. After he finished eating he didn’t want to go home. I asked him what’s wrong and he said he got in between his parents when his father was hitting his mum.”
Funding remains one of her biggest challenges. She said “it’s not always easy” sourcing donors.
She suffers from arthritis and used her disability grant money for the NGO but soon appealed for help at her son’s primary school. His teacher introduced her to non-profit organisation Operation Hunger, in Grassy Park.
“They gave us veggies but after some years they also didn’t have the funds and then we got some donations from overseas but it’s just here and there. It’s difficult to feed 250 children, Monday to Friday, on about R2 000 a month,” said Linda.
Unwavering in her mission to provide nutrition to the hungry, she fought to keep her soup kitchen running and has started her own food garden, growing carrots, cabbage and butternut.
Linda waits with excitement for the new soup kitchen which will be equipped with a toilet and shower.
Most of all she hopes to continue feeding as many children as possible.
BY JANIS KINNEAR of Weekend Argus, 23 May 2015