When Sizeka Zisiwe lost her mother in 2003, she was just 16 years old.
While she struggled to make ends meet, she made a pact with herself that when she grew up, she would try to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
Last Saturday, she did exactly that when she donated 20 loaves of bread and party packs for 40 children at Fikelela Children’s Centre in Makhaya.
The centre looks after children who have been neglected or abused.
Now 34 years old, Ms Zisiwe is the owner of Embo Bakeries which she started towards the end of June with one mission in mind – to make a difference in the community of Khayelitsha.
Ms Zisiwe said she asked people in the community as well as some of her friends to each buy one loaf so that she could use the money to buy ingredients and donate them to a needy community-based organisation.
When her mother died, she said, she felt like her world had collapsed around her, but with the help of social workers, the church, relatives and organisations such as Fikelela Children’s Centre, she pulled through.
And she knew that when she grew up, she would plough back into the community that had played a major role in ensuring that she survived those hardships.
“I would bake bread at home and on my way to work, I would give it to one of the street beggars nearby my workplace.
“I felt that I need to play a role in touching someone’s soul and mind because I was exactly in their shoes a few years back. I know how it feels to grow up in a children’s home or place.
Seeing these children smile brought back tears that I was once in their shoes.
“I know exactly how it feels to have nothing. I’m grateful that God has carried me through until this day that I can make a difference myself,” she said.
Ms Zisiwe said she had baked and donated bread to various other organisations as well, among them Baphumelele Children’s Home in Nyanga.
But she said she hoped to be able to establish something sustainable like a soup kitchen.
Ms Zisiwe said the centre also needed toys and other essentials.
Fikelela Children’s Centre facility manager, Pastor Lulamile Mzuzu, said they were grateful for the donation and hoped more people would do the same.
He said running a faith-based organisation had its challenges – among them safeguarding their premises – and they were constantly looking for additional support.
He also called on the community to play their part in protecting the facility.