Cold meals are a thing of the past for those who rely on the Siyakhula Europe Community Soup Kitchen to fill their bellies.
The volunteers who walk through Europe, Barcelona and Gugulethu to deliver the meals to needy homes are now climbing on bicycles. This means the food can get to the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the bedridden while it is still piping hot.
This is all thanks to a donation, last Thursday, of four bicycles from Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.
The soup kitchen’s founder, Betty Duli-Mkinase, is thrilled with the bicycles and says they will be used to ferry food to homes furthest from the kitchen.
Europe is an informal settlement. Unemployment is rife and there are no basic services and streets. People there are still using porta-pots.
Ms Duli-Mkinase founded the kitchen there during hard lockdown after seeing how people struggled to make ends meet. She started helping a few neighbours, but now the kitchen serves some 50 seniors and 700 children a day.
“It is amazing how we started this initiative,” she says. “We started small but the need was growing, and we did not have enough money. We had to seek donations even from the local businesses here. Business people were willing and they started donating food and other things. We grew to what we are today.”
She is very grateful to the community of Europe for supporting the soup kitchen, and she thanked Mr Winde for the bicycles. “Everything will be quick now. With the bikes, it means people will eat on time. Their food will reach them still hot. Remember, not everyone has microwaves and electricity. I thank the premier for such a donation.”
Now the volunteers strap on helmets and line up on their bicycles to fetch the deliveries.
Noclaremont Mabala, who gets food from the kitchen five days a week, says she is grateful for what Ms Duli-Mkinase is doing and for the faster deliveries.
“It is not an easy thing to feed hundreds of people. She has shown that she is not only thinking about herself and her family but the entire community. Big up to her for that. And to the premier, for reaching out to the area like ours, we say thank you.”