When I arrived in the Mbekweni township in 2012 as a Tremendous Hearts volunteer, six grandmothers, known as “the Gogos”, were cooking meals in their own kitchens to feed 150 vulnerable children. They dreamed about having a soup kitchen to feed hungry children in the community. Tremendous Hearts partnered with the Gogos and the Rondebosch United Church to launch the Masazane Soup Kitchen. I worked with the Gogos to outfit a donated shipping container to serve as the kitchen and secured food donations and other funding.
The soup kitchen has been operating for 16 months and the Gogos are currently serving up to 450 children five days a week with only 200 bowls and no running water. Every day, however, hungry children are turned away due to lack of food.
I returned to South Africa in June to spend a year as a Tremendous Hearts long-term volunteer dedicated to the Masazane Soup Kitchen project. My primary goal is to ensure that the soup kitchen is sustainable. This requires finding a permanent location with running water and electricity, increasing community involvement and securing the food supply through local partnerships. I also envision expanding the services provided to the children in this community so they can live, grow and be healthy.
I feel a special connection to the Gogos, six amazing women ranging in age from 62-75, who carry the load at the soup kitchen. Can you imagine feeding hundreds of kids each day without running water or serving as a surrogate grandmother to all of these vulnerable children? These women truly embody the notion that your worth is not determined by what you have, but by how you serve.
I have spent most of my career working with women and children as both a licensed therapist and a grief counselor. I am also a certified Household Manager so I have the experience to manage the logistics required to make this project a success. I am blessed to have found this opportunity to use my heart and my skills to make a difference in the lives of the Gogos and the vulnerable children of Mbekweni. I would love your help!
P.S. My photo is shown in the gallery on this page. I'm the woman in the red jacket in the last photo and I'm also pictured with Beatrice, one of the Gogos, in the next to last photo.