Every day a large number of unemployed people, among them grown men, line up along the side of the road, hoping someone will pick them up and offer them temporary work. Often they are picked up and taken to places they do not know, and often they start a day of hard work having had nothing to eat.
On Saturday July 22, members of the South African Methodist Church Women’s Manyano decided to give them something to eat as part of their community service in honour of Mandela Month.
Mandela Day, when people are asked to spend 67 minutes in service, was marked on Tuesday July 18, former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
The concerned mothers fed about 30 men at the corner of Old Faure Road and Spine Road, near Bosasa.
Chairperson of the Manyano, Kholeka Ngonyama, said every time she drove through the area, she noticed the men and when they discussed their Mandela Day contribution, her thoughts were drawn to these men.
“These are men who want to support their families but could not. They have children to send to school, but for reasons beyond them, they are having it tough. When we spoke to some, they have not been going home because they are scared to show their faces at home. This is a bad situation that our men are facing in the country,” she said.
Ms Ngonyama said even though feeding people for a day was not enough, most beneficiaries appreciated it.
“The truth is, this is not enough. In fact, this is just a drop in the ocean. If we had our way, we would give jobs to them. We would provide love and happiness to every household. But all we can do now is to pray to our God to look after them. Jobs are a problem in the country,” she said.
Manyano’s secretary, Linda Hlomela, added: “These are men who are trying hard to get jobs. The sad part is that they are family men. We cannot close our eyes as if nothing is happening to our own men. We came here as women of the church to also practise what we preach. It is our way of taking care of others,” she said.
Ms Hlomela said they would return to the area and many others.
One of the beneficiaries, Mzwamadoda Mzangwa, 56, from Mfuleni said he was grateful for the meal. He said he had not been home for many years.
Mr Mzwangwa said they lined up for work at 5am every day.
“I started standing here in 1991. This is a job in itself because you wake as if you’re going to work and yet you will stand here the whole day with nothing to show. We appreciate it when people think about us, especially in winter. “These lines start very early and we all have nothing with us, no money and no food. Life is tough out here,” he said.