Local Township Heroes are Fending off Hunger for Thousands

Local Township Heroes are Fending off Hunger for Thousands

“Ikamva Labantu came along and now my community has food. Not only Covid kills, but hunger and stress of not knowing where you will get the next meal kills too” Mama Aris Gugu Busakwe, Khayelitsha

For most township residents, 2020 was a bleak year. In March, the Covid-19 pandemic brought the economy to a sudden halt. 2.6 million jobs were lost instantly, leading to a wave of unprecedented hunger and uncertainty across South Africa. No one felt this more than those without savings, living hand-to-mouth in the inhumane conditions of poverty in the townships.

However, amidst the panic and despondency, dozens of local heroes in Cape Town’s townships soon proved that our nation is blessed with many compassionate, resilient, and self-sacrificing community builders, who themselves are struggling to overcome poverty. By raising their hands to partner with Ikamva Labantu to run 130 community feeding kitchens across the townships, these inspirational self-starters have opened their hearts and homes to fight hunger for their neighbours. Since April 2020, they have been cooking and distributing 154 100 nutritious meals daily, reaching 36 200 people per month.

The passionate volunteers have been an indispensable part of Ikamva Labantu’s ‘pivot’ towards addressing the hunger emergency in the townships as a number one priority during Covid-19. Provided with monthly supplies, they quickly organised themselves into efficient and productive kitchens and helped Ikamva to identify the most vulnerable people experiencing hunger. Ikamva regards these self-starters as a true inspiration and works with them closely – learning together and identifying new opportunities to address the challenges – while monitoring the progress of the programme.

Vuyani stepped up to the plate for Ikamva Labantu

Vuyani Mosela, a resident of Langa, is one of these impactful volunteers. The father of two threw his hat in the ring in May last year when Ikamva Labantu set out to identify volunteers to run feeding sites. Vuyani loves being part of all the planning from the beginning to the end. He enjoys working with a team that works well together, understanding each person’s contribution. Throughout his life, helping the community and being part of the solution has been something that has made him happy.

“I’m a very hands-on person, especially when it comes to helping my fellow people so it’s an honour to be part of the team,” says Vuyani. “Knowing that my people are being fed, more especially now that most are unemployed, fills me with joy,” he adds.

Sylvia shows us her strength daily

For the volunteers, the days start very early. Sylvia Thembisa Panziso from Khayelitsha starts cooking at 6.30 am four days per week, feeding 150 people per day. “As a Khayelitsha resident, I saw how people were suffering and took a decision to do something for my community. This is my passion”.

Reflecting on the harsh conditions of township life, she says “I saw a lot of poverty in this area. The need is great in this community that has many single-parent households. Unemployment is rife.” Mama Sylvia is also part of Ikamva Labantu’s Afternoon Angels programme. Children spend afternoons in her home dancing, singing, honing their writing skills and learning general discipline. “Now people can count on me to get a meal and the children are also busy with activities that keep them safe from drugs, rape and other crimes,” she adds.

Nonkosini serves up hope in every bowl

One of the wonderful aspects of the kitchens is that they are cooking and providing food that is balanced and healthy, enabling people to maintain their physical and spiritual strength.  Nonkosini Lucy Monareng’s steaming pots are filled with a tasty mixture of starch, soup, meat and vegetables, feeding 100 people, five days per week. A good meal means so much more than the food on the plate; it is a way to experience a sense of dignity and feel connected to a social safety net during this difficult time. “My community kitchen gives people hope because they know they will get a warm meal from me,” says Mama Nonkosini.

Ikamva Labantu remains committed to continuing to provide food to those in need, through food parcel deliveries and the support of community kitchens. This on-going intervention will continue as long as it is needed, and as long as we have the necessary funding.

To participate in this important work and support the local residents, please visit the donation page by clicking here.