Feeding scheme leaves little tummies happy

Zainuniesa Waggie

About 50 children from Kewtown walk away with full tummies and smiles on their faces every day after they’ve received a meal from the Soffiyah feeding scheme.

The registered non-profit-organisation was founded by Zainuniesa Waggie, who named it after her granddaughter, Soffiyah, who passed away four years ago at the tender age of 18 months old.

Soffiyah suffered from CHARGE syndrome, which is a combination of Coloboma of the eye, Heart defects, Atresia of the choanae, Retardation of growth and development, and Ear abnormalities and deafness. Babies with Charge syndrome are often born with life-threatening birth defects and experience swallowing and breathing problems, hearing loss, vision loss, and balance problems that delay their development and communication.

After the loss of her grandchild, Ms Waggie decided to approach her children with the idea of starting a feeding scheme to honour Soffiyah’s memory.

Having grown up with 12 siblings and no father, she said, she knew what it was like to go to bed hungry.

“Her parents could afford to buy her everything that she needed, but I realised that there are many parents who can’t do that. I spoke to my children about it and they helped me to get it started. I think this is the best thing I could have done,” she said.

The children who are mostly from underprivileged homes, are fed porridge for breakfast and also given lunch for school, a packet of sweets, biscuits, and a juice.

After school, they return to Ms Waggie’s place where they sit and enjoy a home-cooked meal and a fruit afterwards.

“I give them what I would feed my family and I sit down and eat with them. I believe that they must eat what we eat, not things that we wouldn’t eat,” she said.

The scheme is dependent on donations from the community and is also well supported by the family and friends of Ms Waggie and her children.

It runs from Monday to Friday.

She said what motivates her to keep the feeding scheme going is the change she sees in the children.

“The children really enjoy it, they come every day after school because they need it. Their parents know about the feeding scheme and they are happy about it because at least their children won’t go to sleep without a meal as they’ve had two meals for the day,” she said.

Ms Waggie said while she receives donations, it is still quite expensive to run the feeding scheme as meat, potatoes and gas to cook on, are quite expensive. As a result, she sometimes has to reach into her own pocket to cover costs.

“I don’t want people to praise me for it. The appreciation that I receive is seeing how happy the children are that they have a meal to eat. When they come here they are so happy and can’t wait to eat. Sometimes they can’t eat fast enough so that they can get a second plate of food, and there is always more if they want.”

She said all she can hope for is that the children make a success of their lives.

“My wish is that God spares me to see these children grow up and become successful, that’s all that I want,” she added.

Donations for the feeding scheme can be dropped off at Ms Waggie’s house in Thyme Road, Kewtown. Her contact number is 082 411 1822. Collection for donations can also be arranged.