Pensioner’s weekly soup kitchen gets a big boost

SIYAVUYA KHAYA

Linda Mabanga, who runs a soup kitchen in her RDP house, wept with relief when South African Breweries (SAB), in partnership with the City of Cape Town, gave her a fully furnished container, on Monday May 16.

The 63-year-old pensioner is the founder of Isizihlobo soup kitchen, in F Section, Khayelitsha. The kitchen feeds people living with HIV/Aids, TB and other illnesses. About 50 people from the community and the surrounding areas visit the kitchen each week.

Ms Mabanga thanked the donors profusely for answering her daily prayers for her own container where she could cook, instead of using her small house.

”The container has a stove, two fridges and a built-in table, and I will no longer have to use my small kitchen to cook for the people. I do this because I love helping people and I do not expect anything in return,” she said.

She cooks twice a week and uses her pension money to buy the food.

She started the soup kitchen in 1996 to help the elderly, but opened it to everyone a couple of years later after seeing how her community was gripped by grinding poverty. When it first got off the ground, she had still been working full time, so she could only run it occasionally. Now that she’s retired, she has been able to dedicate a lot more time to it.

In 2014, she registered it with the Department of Social Development in the hope of attracting support from business – as food prices rise and ever more people visit the soup kitchen, it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain the project with her meagre pension.

”Funding is the major issue that I grapple with, and, at times, I take my husband’s pension to buy food that would carry us until the end of the month. I sometimes go to bed with an empty stomach just to ensure that everyone has eaten,” she said.

SAB corperate affairs manager Zukiswa Gaqavu said Ms Mabanga was playing a critical role in the community by ensuring that people living with chronic diseases were able to eat something before they took their medication.

“It important for us to plough back,” she said.

Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for health, said he had appealed to SAB to help Ms Mabanga after hearing of her plight.

“This is a partnership between a private sector company and the City in restoring dignity in our communities by ensuring that people like Ms Mabanga who are social entrepreneurs are given the equipment to do their job,” he said.