By Moleboheng Mahasa:
The breeze is making an otherwise bearable cold winter's day, colder. The kids begin to arrive from school not dressed warmly enough. Most of their shoes are broken; their uniforms are worn out hand-me-downs. My heart lurches. The emotion rising up is a mixture of compassion and sympathy. Children should not suffer like this.
Undeterred by the cold weather, the kids queue up and smile brightly at us. We are a team of 4 ladies representing Phethahatso. It's a Tuesday afternoon and we are here to feed approximately 150 children from the Boitumelo Township. Most of the children are orphans who live with grandparents or who are heads of their own households.
It does not take long before the kids are pushing each other and scuffling to get food. This, despite countless assurances from the team that each one will get a plate; our words are falling on deaf ears. Survival instincts have kicked in.
Although this feeding-scheme takes place only one day a week, the kids tell us that it makes a significant difference in their lives. For one day they get to not worry about what to eat after school. For others it is their first meal of the day. I cannot imagine how a child can concentrate in class with hunger as a constant distraction, gnawing away at their tiny stomachs. More can be done.
There is another project from the same organisation (Phethahatso Community Development). It is the food gardening project which seeks to address the long term food security problem of the community. In this project members of the Boitumelo community and other townships are taught basic agricultural skills through the practical establishment of gardens. All resources needed for the gardens (seedlings, nutrients, garden tools etc) are sourced by Phethahatso.
To date, 175 gardens have been established. Members are able to eat and sometimes sell produce from these gardens. There are tomato, cabbage, spinach, eggplant and carrot gardens. “I no longer worry about what accompanies my pap,” said one member. “I have even been able to sell some produce to buy chicken for Sunday lunch,” He added.
A lot more can still be done. With funding, the training for food gardens can be more extensive, and measures can be taken to make it more sustainable. The children can be fed more than once a week.
Phethahatso was started by *2 individuals who felt called by God to begin to exercise love in their community. This meant realising that although they saw themselves as a couple with 3 kids struggling to make ends meet, they had something to give. The projects continued, despite the couple's worsening financial situation. Towards the end of 2010 they lost their family home, but the will to be agents of change remained strong. More gardens were established.
It is about time that each of us realises that we can make a difference in our communities. We each have a skill, a talent, a monetary donation that we can use to bring about change in our societies. We do not all have to be poor, to know that poverty is a social ill that needs to be remedied. Love is an action word, and giving is one way of expressing that love.
*Founders of Phethahatso Community development:
Amelia Mahasa – 0714962672
Moeketsi Mahasa – 0731562461
If you would like to get involved in any way – volunteer your time, money, skill, talent or even other material resources, or if you need more information on the project, please contact the founders on the above cell numbers.
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