Hein Kaiser
Journalist
3 minute read
14 Dec 2021
12:47 pm

How ideas can save lives

Hein Kaiser

Three quarters of a century ago an idea came to life, and it changed the lives of thousands of people. The late Bishop Trevor Huddleston began a soup kitchen to provide nourishment for hungry children in Alexandra and Soweto.

First cooking meals in his own kitchen and, five years later, provided meals for almost four thousand children every day. And it was only the beginning of an outreach programme that has contributed to the wellness and development of fellow citizens who have needed a helping hand the most.

ACFS (African Children’s Feeding Scheme) has grown into thirteen community centres in some of the worst affected areas of Soweto, Kagiso, Tsakane, Tembisa and Alexandra where meals are prepared and distributed.

Over the years, the ACFS centres have also become community centre-points and today people have access to additional resources like skills training, computer literacy and personal development.

The Teenage Girls’ Programme is a flagship project for the centre.

Project coordinator of the programme, Smangele Sigasa is passionate about the programme: “We share important life skills with the girls,” she said, “and particularly resilience along with other tools to help them shape their lives, their futures into a positive outcome.”

Sigasa added that by teaching teamwork, worth ethic, communication and a sense of responsibility it prepares them for adulthood. Essential learning like computer skills is also taught to the more than six thousand youth in the programme.

“Given the nature of the areas in which we operate,” said Sigasa, “poverty is an unfortunate and constant reality.

Beyond nutrition, many of the girls for not have regular access to basic wellness and personal grooming products like sanitary towels, toothpaste and deodorant.”

And this is where Cell-C’s Summer Campaign stepped in. One of the winners of the mobile operator’s season-long competition selected ACFS as her nominated cause, and while the winning a prize sees an individual go home happy, the Cell-C Summer Campaign injects joy into the lives of many more South Africans in need of a leg-up.

Cell-C donated a mini-mountain of essential toiletries to ACFS. Last week, the organisation’s Braamfontein headquarters saw a load of sanitary towels, deodorants, toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap amongst other grooming essentials arrive.

A further R 20 000 was donated as a cash contribution towards the Teenage Girls’ Programme. The funding will be applied to purchase more much needed resources over time.

ACFS finance manager Nomboniso Mnyameni said that the organisation is dependent on donations from corporate South Africa and contributions like Cell-C’s go a long way to fulfilling a great need.

She said that one of the reasons she chose to pursue a career in community service is to affect the kind of change only possible at the coalface, impacting and changing lives where it matters most, in a child’s formative years.

According to a 2019 report most young children (65%) live in households with income levels below the poverty line and 27% of children under five show signs of stunted growth, an indicator of malnutrition that compromises health, education and future employment prospects. In addition, 42% of children have experienced a measure of abuse, sexual, neglect or physical and emotional.

It was established that by the end of Grade 4 58% of children were unable to read fluently and with comprehension.

ACFS’s website succinctly shares the foundation of its incredible work. It reads that the bulk of its work “involves targeted identification and assessment of children and families from poor and food insecure households.

Our aim is to provide a welcoming and enabling environment where nutritional support, together with other early foundation services is delivered, all geared to providing disadvantaged children with the support they need to achieve their potential.”