Women start soup kitchen

Four women from Hazeldene, Philippi, are working together to help destitute foreigners, who do not qualify for state Covid-19 relief.

Nokuzola Zonelelo, Charlotte Adams, Nosakhele Fana and Nomayenzeke Spele have been running the self-funded Hazeldene Association Community Food Kitchen for the past three months, feeding about 300 people three times a week.

However a growing number of people are looking to them for help and it’s becoming hard for them women to feed them all.

Ms Zonelelo said they had felt compelled to help because they had noticed that those distributing food parcels had been giving them to their friends.

“Food parcels went to the known and the close friends of politicians. We could not get them,” she said.

“But that did not deter us as women. We sat and decided to dig deep in our pockets for foreigners. We have many Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals in our community that needed us, that needed our support.

“That is why we embarked on this food kitchen.

“We call it a food kitchen simply because we give proper food. We are not getting any support from anyone,” she said.

The women are feeding people in Hazeldene, Siyahlala and Ramaphosa informal settlements, with the elderly and the sick getting food delivered to their homes.

There was a dire need for food, Ms Adams said.

“Women of Hazeldene are so inspirational.

If you look at these houses around here, they were built by women. Now they have taken the initiative to help others. South Africans are at least getting grants from the government but not these guys from foreign lands. Each and everyone of us decided to put down a R50 and above.

“We had to buy from the market because local shops are more expensive.

“I am happy that we now feed even South Africans that cannot afford food,” she said.

Ms Adams said she was happy that the group had also become a refuge where women could discuss their problems and that they were extending their work to include visiting and comforting the sick and elderly.

When Vukani visited on Tuesday, there were long queues of people who had come out in the rain to collect food.

Seniors Olivia Madela, 82, and Lizi Mgedezi, 81, commended the women’s kindness.

Mam’uMgedezi, whose food is delivered to her home, said the initiative was bound to grow if the women remained united.

Meanwhile Mam’uMadela said the women had shown that they could lead.

“Because I can walk, I prefer coming here so I can also have a chat with other women.

“If I am late, I know I will get my plate reserved for me. This has become a place to have a chat and laugh too,” she said.

If you would like to assist the women, contact them at 073 281 3940