After our successful distribution of 11750 plates of food on Mandela Day and the kind generosity displayed by the sponsors we were eager to embark on another project to distribute 15000 plates of food on the 11th of October 2014. With a few days left before the 11th, our volunteers went all out to collect donations in cash and kind for the big feeding day as we needed an amount of R75000 to fund this project. The volunteers together with the Food for Life Kwa Dukuza members were enthusiastic and determined to make this another successful project. They first approached all the local newspapers and then a TV channel, KZN TV to ask if they could film the cooking and distribution of 60 pots (15000 plates). To our surprise, by just making one phone call, they sent us an email to say that they will televise our function. We could not secure a major sponsor this time around for this project but collected funds from various sectors of the community. Nirvana and Sunitha headed the fundraising drive. Sandhiya and Trisha handled all the admin and marketing for this project.
The night before the cooking, we were overjoyed to see the TV crew arriving at 5pm. Supper was prepared for the TV crew and about 40 volunteers. Within an hour we had a sponsor who arranged the accommodation for the TV crew. The task of completing the fitting of the lights, taps, boards, data projector and other logistics was made easier with so many volunteers providing assistance. Sushiela Angamuthoo was given the responsibility of having all the vegetables prepared and all the ingredients prepacked into boxes. She was assisted by a team of ladies. The last batch of volunteers left the Food for Life kitchen at 9:20pm.
At 3.30 am the next morning I was awakened by a loud thunder instead of my alarm. A streak of lightning followed and I quickly jumped out of my bed. I immediately ran towards the window to see whether it was raining and would you believe it, yes it was raining. My wife tried to console me that it was only a passing shower but I was convinced that it was here to stay as it continued to thunder. Unbelievably after 10 minutes the thunder and rain stopped altogether. We got ready and then left for the Food for Life Kitchen at 4h40 am. To my surprise there were already about 20 volunteers setting up pots and other logistics on site. This commitment displayed by the volunteers really touched my heart. We started the proceedings with a prayer conducted by Azad. Within the hour we had 150 volunteers preparing the meals for 15000 children. All volunteers were dressed wearing Food for Life t-shirts and caps which made an awesome sight. By 5am the TV crew started filming the amazing activities which was taking place. The stock area where the prepacked ingredients were kept and controlled Preshen Singh was buzzing with volunteers all rushing for their packs. By 5 am Fatimah and Azad who were in charge of the breakfast catering room had the coffee and tea ready together with the cakes and biscuits which was baked by Nishana. While all this was taking place fires were getting started and by 6am we had 50 fires burning. The balance of the logistics was handled by Harry Mahdey, Vinod, Kritesh, Basil, Raj, Azad, Buds and the handling of the labour by Jugdesh made the task of all easier.
Yajna Sampath prepared one pot but most of the time assisted her dad. The following children, Ameera, Shravan, Aditi, Vitara, Arya, Uvthi, Ridavia, Miyush, Gia, Nickolas and Yara aged between 9-12 years also assisted in the cooking.
With the television crew busy interviewing the cooks while preparing meals, it seemed as if we were already on TV. We were fortunate to have Lutchman who volunteered his services to make a DVD of the day’s proceedings along with Ekta Ramnath who did the photographing free of charge. Mukesh Bisnath also offered his services free of charge to be the MC for this event and did a sterling job of it. We had people from the business community, teachers, religious groups, home executives and volunteers from various sectors helping to prepare the meals. The smoke was veryhard to contend with as the rain had wet the wood in the early hours of the morning but this did not dampen or deter the spirit of the volunteers.
The breakfast team headed by Beena Mahdey and Nishana Sampath continued to fry a variety of delicious savouries for breakfast. Volunteers continued to trickle in towards the breakfast room from 7am onwards. With all the fires burning, the air full of smoke and the heat, nothing could stop the volunteers from enjoying themselves in preparing the meals with only one reward, watching the smiles on the faces of the children at the distribution point later. Vinod took care of any shortages required when the need arose and Harry liaised with the cooks and the stock controller. Buds took care of the cooks and the collection of information from all the volunteers for our database.
By 7.30am most of the meals were prepared and a speech was delivered by myself, therafter the meals were removed from the pots and put into big plastic containers. By 9 am we were ready to load them into the vehicles. The first bakkie to be loaded was from the ILembe District Municipality arranged by Mr Vincent who took 15 pots to distribute in 10 wards around the Groutville/Melville area. With the dispatch team left to load the meals into various vehicles, our team loaded 14 containers in 3 bakkies and we left for the Zamani Township. One team left for the township a few minutes early taking along the TV crew so that they could film the convoy of about 15 vehicles when entering the township. The TV crew together with Priya and her assistant from our local newspaper Dolphin Mail was eagerly waiting to welcome us. With 50 volunteers serving the meals, it took us 30 minutes to serve 1500 meals. We then proceeded towards Etete led by Sham and Manorie Pillay where 2000 plates were served in an hour. The TV crew interviewed a number of children and also an elderly lady who burst out in tears while being interviewed. This brought tears to the TV crews eyes as they witnessed this. Those were tears of happiness in the eyes of the elderly lady because she was so happy and greatful of the meal she was receiving. The volunteers and sponsors were also in tears to watch so many children enjoying the meals that they themselves had prepared. The Food for Life KwaDukuza team was confident that using volunteers/sponsors from all sectors of the community was an excellent idea in helping us to make KwaDukuza and the surrounding areas a hunger free zone.
DISTRIBUTION AREAS OF THE 15000 PLATES
|NO OF POTS/PLATES||AREA||RESPONSIBLE PERSON||PHONE|
|4/1000||STEVE BIKO TOWNSHIP||JUGDESH||0734756325|
|4/1000||INDIAN VILLAGE/SUNNY PARK/GLEDHOW||PATRICK||0769013367|
|GRAND TOTAL||60 pots = 15000 plates|
Accolades were given to our team for their sterling job and we were promised by volunteers that they will be willing to assist the Food for Life team anytime subject to their availability. While we were on distribution Nirvana and her team were serving meals from the Food for Life kitchen to children who found their way with containers to us. After an eventful and exciting day we returned to the kitchen at 2.15pm where we had lunch and therafter left for home. All logistics and clean up was done by Jugdesh and Vinod while we were on distribution. At the end of the day a total of 60 pots (15000 Plates) were prepared using a total of 150 volunteers. We were also fortunate to have the association of one of the longest standing member of Food for Life Laxminath das who came all the way from Chatsworth at 5 am and helped to prepare 3 pots on this day. 1880kg (1.88 tons) of ingredients were used in preparation of the meals. Our next major project of this nature will be on the Saturday before the Easter weekend in 2015. In the meanwhile the Food for Life KwaDukuza team will continue to distribute in excess of 2000 plates a week. Hope to see you all in the near future.
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