Breakfast gives men a space of their OWN

Guests and members of Ottery Welfare Network (OWN), are pictured, from left, Melanie Arendse, from Goodwill Foundation, Christo Williams, coordinator of OWN, Christopher Williams, Jeremy Francis of Jerrys Autobody Care and Robert Adams.

A breakfast and information session for 30 men was held by Ottery Welfare Network (OWN) on Saturday April 21.

The network was founded by Robert Adams, a senior pastor at Carriers of Christ Community Church Zenith Fellowship.

OWN’s coordinator Christo Williams, said: “The reason for the breakfast was to share information about skills development and business empowerment but, also to share a message of hope with them and to show them we look beyond their outer appearances by serving them as honoured guests.”

Mr Williams said this came as a surprise to the men who have been treated as outcasts and alienated from the community.

He said the community of Ottery is in desperate need of more intervention to uplift people.

“OWN serves every race, religion and culture. We believe as a community, by pooling local resources and assets, we can make meaningful impact.”

Mr Williams said for the past 13 months, OWN has been consistently reaching out to the community by dishing out warm meals in Ottery three times a week, with an outreach to children on a Sunday morning.

“Personal development for our young kids is a priority; activities where their self-esteem is built in a fun environment, where values and morals are being taught. The need is so big that we easily feed over 200 people per evening.

“Our desire is to serve more people. All this is accomplished by a small group of people making monthly donations, forming part of what we call a giving cycle. We find great joy in knowing that when ordinary people pool even the little resources that they have, a lot can be achieved. This makes it possible for us to buy the needed ingredients and a small honorarium for the ladies who daily prepare the food. People come and queues stretch longer as the need is growing bigger than what we anticipated,” said Mr Williams.

“Our aim is not to just feed but have a holistic approach or strategy to the development of the person as a whole, looking at ways to empower individuals spiritually, mentally physically and economically.”

One of the guests, Jeremy Francis, owner of Jerry’s Autobody Care, shared his story of growing up in Ottery and building his business “from literally nothing”.

Melanie Arendse of Goodwill Foundation shared ideas on how OWN can draw more interested entrepreneurs and about her passion for community development.

A skills training centre and business hub has been established and through various programme will serve as alternatives to crime, alleviating poverty and ridding the community of unemployment by reaching out to one person at a time. At the breakfast, ideas were discussed on how to effectively run the training centre. Making the unemployed men and local business owners and leaders of organisations part of the conversation is an important part of developing the strategy, the group said.

The next meeting will be held at Old Lotus High School, corner of Hector and Edward avenues, on Saturday May 12, at 10am. For more information, contact Christo Williams on 062 678 9083 or email otterywelfarenetwork@gmail.com