Food for Life SA decided to distribute 20000 plates of food on Mandela day and requested that all branches collectively assist in achieving this objective.
This presented an opportunity for us and we decided to prepare 10000 plates of food on that day. Although this was a daunting task and with very little funds in our bank account we nevertheless decided to go ahead knowing that it would cost us about R50000 and with the teams determination we knew we would rise to the challenge.
With just 3 weeks to go the team decided first to go on a fundraising drive. They approached the Stanger Child Welfare and secured a stall to raise funds for the project. The first 2 days looked bleak for donations but on the 3rd day, the introduction of Mr. Vivian Reddy by the president of Child Welfare Mr. Pravin Sham got the ball rolling by an enormous donation by The Vivian Reddy Foundation Trust. This was our lucky charm because thereafter pledges just kept coming in. With donations now coming in cash and kind, our next challenge was how to distribute the 10000 plates of food.
The team then approached the local KwaDukuza Municipality for assistance. They promptly responded favorably and were willing to assist us with the packaging and logistics to transport and serve the meals to 10 different wards. The fundraising team headed by Harry Mahdey and Chunitha Shiopersad was now in 5th gear going all out to collect donations from corporates and the public who responded favorably.
The local media also played their part and assisted us with free adverts in their newspapers. Donations were being received on a regular basis. Our next challenge was the assistance required for the preparation of the meals to be cooked which amounted to 40 pots. The team headed by Sandy and Trisha Anmol began to send out emails and sms’s to individuals and organizations requesting for assistance with this project. Within 3 days we got requests from 60 volunteers who pledged their support and was prepared to arrive at 4 am to help us prepare the meals. We now had the whole infrastructure in place and was set and ready to go. With 4 days to go the management team comprising of Buds Angamuthoo, Vinod Shiopersad, Rinesh Singh, Harry Mahdey and Preshen Singh went all out working late nights to have the logistics and site ready for D-Day.
Then the D-day arrived. When I arrived at the site at 4 am, there were already 5 vehicles at the gate waiting for me to open the premises. The temperature now at 11˚ and as the cooking was set to take place on the banks of a river; I thought this would dampen the moral of the volunteers. After opening the proceedings beginning with a prayer conducted by Shamir Rajcoomar, there was an influx of about 50 more volunteers all togged up and ready to prepare the meals. Within 20 minutes we had the first fires lit and the next 20 minutes we had the 40 pots on burning fires. This was an amazing sight watching how the volunteers hustling and bustling to get the meals prepared on time stopping at nothing In their way. With the arrival of the Edison Power team from the Vivian Ready Foundation headed by Tarin Green decreased the pressure of the cooking teams.
There was also a team comprising of 10 children headed by Yajna Sampath who assisted in preparing 2 pots of food, the youngest volunteer being 8 years old. These children also arrived on site at 4 am. This was an inspiration to the seniors. They went all out and did more than what was required of them. With regards to the rest of the volunteers I thought they were working at a faster pace than our 40 fires burning. Each and every one of the volunteers worked harmoniously without any hiccups. In the background the breakfast team headed by Premilla Rampersad and Nishana Sampath quietly went about their business preparing a sumptuous feast (kitchiri, paneer and potatoe curry) which we had at 6 am. With the urn boiling and savories coming out like cakes out of an oven out of the oil, they continued with their task quietly in the background.
By 6:30 am we finally had the first pot coming out of the fire. It was packed into food bins ready for delivery. There was a request for an additional 8 more pots and the volunteers were only too excited to fulfill this request. Being short of some ingredients and at this early hour with the supermarkets being closed, it proposed a challenge. The volunteers rose to this challenge and with their contacts got a supermarket open and the missing ingredients were purchased. Within the hour we had the other 8 pots ready.
By 8 am there was a fleet of vehicles provided by the local municipality and some donors being loaded with the meals into these vehicles which was headed by Preshen Singh. By this time we now had about 200 volunteers on site and we were also serving meals to passers by on an ongoing basis. By 10 am some of the volunteers were preparing to leave and requested us to promise them that we will invite them on our next project to assist.
Various dignitaries from the local municipalities visited us including Ms Ncami from the Mayor’s office and also people from different organizations who voiced their appreciation for what we did on Mandela’s Day.
We were paid a surprise visit by Mr. Vivian Reddy accompanied by his wife Sorisha who were our major sponsor for this event. He was very impressed with the tremendous work done by the Food for Life team and decided to accompany us to distribute meals to the Zamani Township. We were accompanied with other sponsors who made up a convoy of 4 vehicles. The look of joy on the children’s faces while receiving the meals brought tears of happiness to our sponsors faces, an experience they said they will cherish and promised to be involved in our future feeding projects. Returning to the site at 1:30 pm everyone was now tired and ready to leave for home. At this point a vehicle approached the site and the person Mr. Peter Mhlabisa told us that he promised about 150 children in his area that they will be given meals today. We were in a dilemma but once again the 25 volunteers who remained on site went all out and prepared one more pot of food for these children. This brought our tally of pots to 49 and total plates to 11750.We all happily left the site at 3:45 pm.
I would like to request all organizations and the public to please get involved in our feeding scheme by either cash or kind as we prepare 1000 meals on a weekly basis and with your help we can continue this work and help eradicate hunger in our society. You can visit our website www.fflsa.org and contact your local Food for life office to volunteer your services.
PICTURES AND VISUALS WILL FOLLOW IN ANOTHER REPORT
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR OUR FORTHCOMING PROJECTS FOR THIS YEAR
(Chairman : Food for Life Kwa Dukuza)