I am in South Africa to serve the needs of 450 children.

For: Joye Dickens
Organizer: Joye Dickens
I am in South Africa to serve the needs of 450 children. (Joye Dickens)
$18,624
of $25,000 goal.
Raised by 29 donors
74% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

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.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on December 16, 2014

Posted on December 16, 2014

I can’t believe the year is coming to an end and I’m halfway through my journey here in South Africa. As you may remember, my first goal for this project was to make sure that the current operation is stable. I’m happy to report that we are consistently feeding up to 300 children per day from the original shipping container.The shift to a propane cooker has made it possible to cook more food in the small space in spite of our limited access to electricity and lack of running water.

My second goal was to expand the capacity of the soup kitchen so we could serve more children and begin to offer additional services. Finding and renovating a larger shipping container has been one of my top priorities. As I have shared in previous posts, this has been a very interesting process. The good news is that we have put a deposit down on a larger container and have selected a contractor for the renovations. However, the land on which we were planning to place the new container is being sold. So, I am now focused on identifying new options, including the possibility of moving the soup kitchen to a permanent structure.  I am confident that we will find a way to launch in a larger, more functional space in 2015!

One of my other priorities was to expand the soup kitchen team. The Gogos have done a spectacular job but it’s a big commitment and some have had health issues that make it challenging to work a full schedule.  I reached out to pastors in the township to find volunteers and am thrilled that 3 new ladies have joined our team. Elizabeth, Beauty and Constance are now on board so we will begin 2015 with 2 fully staffed teams (1 team of 4 and 1 team of 5) to share the workload.  These 9 women continue to amaze and inspire me!

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