Feeding the need

Ursula Kruger, Asa Arendse, Fatima Mayman, Adele Campbell, Shireen Smith, Amanda Mister, Lucy Davids and Colleen Karelse. Annette Hermanus is absent from the picture.

A hungry tummy is an angry tummy. These are the words a group of women in Lavender Hill have made their slogan and which keep them motivated to feed pupils who use their block of flats as a thoroughfare to get to school in the morning.

The Wicht Court Association is a non-profit organisation of a group of mothers who decided to make a positive change in their community.

The organisation started off as a court committee when the gang violence in Lavender Hill was at its worst in 2015.

They lobbied for services from government to keep residents safe. One of their main objectives was to have their block enclosed with fencing so that there would be more access control because gangsters and criminals were using the court as a thoroughfare.

They also work closely with the City of Cape Town’s housing department to address social ills, outstanding rental, water bills and other issues that residents may have.

In January the group of 10 women decided to start a breakfast club to feed hungry children on their way to school, and now they feed about 70 children every morning from Monday to Friday.

Most of the women have jobs but first serve the children before going to work. 
The funding for the breakfast club comes from their own pockets and some donations.

Ursula Kruger, who started with the initiative on her own, said children used to come knocking at her and her neighbours’ doors asking for something to eat.

“I started making porridge and giving it to children, from my own pocket but it became a bit too expensive,” said Ms Kruger.
The association then came on board to assist her.

“It is such a pleasure for me to do this for the children. I know it’s difficult for parents and some people just don’t have food to give to their children but for me and the women knowing that we get up every morning to make porridge and serve it to these children is such a pleasure and I thank God every day that we can do this for them,” said an emotional Ms Kruger.

Another member, Lucy Davids, said it was a blessing to serve those in need.

“It is a joy to feed the children. The smile on their faces makes it worth it. Knowing they go to school fed and ready for the day is a wonderful feeling. We also grow close to the children and will hopefully soon be able to offer them a lot more than just a meal,” said Ms Davids.

The children they serve attend Prince George Primary, Hillwood Primary and Lavender Hill High School, and they even feed the parents sometimes if there is enough food.

Chairperson Adele Campbell said many children did not get breakfast in the morning, leading to lack of focus, unruliness and many more issues for them at school.

“Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but a lot of children are starving when they go to school, and many came to knock on our doors for something to eat. We then decided to start the breakfast club so that it gives the child an opportunity to have a productive day at school,” said Ms Campbell.

“I strongly believe that if a child is not fed in the morning they will be destructive and won’t function properly because they won’t be able to concentrate. A lot of parents leave home for work, many children are looked after by their grandparents and some don’t have anything to feed the kids. These are the realities, and in and among children being exposed to violence and dysfunction in some of their homes, we strive to give them one less thing to worry about,” said Ms Campbell.

The children get oats and maize meal on alternative days and fruit and bread, depending on donations.

The charity hopes to expand the project to other flats and wants to start a reading programme and an advice office.

“We want to do so much more, that’s why we are asking the community to please help us take care of our future – the children of Lavender Hill. In winter, it will be a bit difficult to serve the children breakfast in the courtyard so we are also hoping we’ll get a container. We get a couple of donations but need more. Also, anyone who is willing to assist with their time is welcome,” she said.

If you want to donate or assist the organisation in any other way, contact Adele Campbell at 063 396 5243.