Community workers in Manenberg have pooled whatever resources they have, to make sure that residents have something to eat during lockdown – feeding up to 3 000 people daily.
A network was formed shortly after lockdown, consisting of community workers and organisations, to see how they could respond to the area’s dire needs.
According to community worker, Jonanthan Jansen, it is estimated that up to 60% of the residents in Manenberg earn an income from the informal sector.
With the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, they could not continue working.
“From the second Friday of lockdown, we had five people cooking from their own pockets. Now, after compiling a network, we have 23 areas, which was divided into nine zones, where up to 3 000 people are being fed daily. We are significantly grateful to God and all those who help. The taxi association also cooks food on a Saturday,” Mr Jansen said.
Shamielah Edwards has been running a feeding programme for seven years, and is now also part of the network.
“I am a single mother, I had foster children, and I am also a grandmother. I used to dish 22 plates of food at night for my family, which included the friends of my children and grandchildren. It was then when I decided to cook for my community, because the need is just so big. I used to do it from my pocket, but two years ago, my daughter became disabled, and I did not have the means to do it by myself any longer. I am an informal trader, and the chairperson of the Manenberg Business Forum. When I could no longer do it on my own, I asked for donations from my fellow traders. Brothers For Life also supports me,” Ms Edwards said.
Two months ago, she joined the Western Cape Community Care feeding scheme. As part of the networking group, she also oversees four feeding projects, through which they cook for, and feed up to 1 000 people a day.
A few weeks before lockdown, Ms Edwards wrote to mayor Dan Plato for assistance, as she was concerned about feeding people during Ramadaan.
On Thursday April 23, Mr Plato came through for her when his office donated a three-plate gas cooker, a gas tank, two pots and food. The cooking equipment Ms Edwards used up until then, were all borrowed, and near the end of their lifespan.
Patsy Daniels is another community worker on the network who also cooked for the hungry long before lockdown started.
“People pass my house on their way to Athlone Industria – they go there to look for work, etcetera. They often knock on our door to ask for food, and that is how I started. With the network, we are able to share our resources. If one of us has a lot of a certain ingredient, then we pass it along to those who need it. We focus on the most vulnerable, like the elderly, children, the sick and the unemployed. Getting food donations is still a challenge for us, but we are not going to sit back and do nothing,” Ms Daniels said.
Zuleiga Mohamed started cooking shortly after lockdown started.
“My intention is to continue with it beyond lockdown. There are just so many hardships. We can’t just sit and watch the hardships unfold. I am relying on the resources I receive from the networking group. I mostly concentrate on feeding the children. It’s just so sad,” Ms Mohamed said.