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Soup Kitchen in South Africa

When the intention is pure all the doors open.This surely was the case with our food service project at Shumbashaba in South Africa. This is how it came to life:

We were asked by Sharon Boyce, owner of Shumbashaba stables with horses, to help with food for about 20 kids who come on Saturdays to her for lessons in vaulting on horses.

Few boys discovered Shumbashaba during their school holiday and, as Sharon is very happy to help anyone and has an open heart, she allowed these boys to come when there is no school to help and learn about horses. Soon the group grew into 20 and feeding these boys was a challenge for her.

That is when she approached ACT Foundation South Africa to help with the food for these children from poor background as some of them don’t get a decent meal in many days. In fact, we soon came to know that this meal is the only cooked meal they get! We are happy to know that they get a nutritious cooked meal on this day.

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ACT Foundation SA thus committed to cook for them once a month. This was back in February 2015 when we still had only 17 children. We made soup and brought lots of bread and cakes. The children loved it! As we spent time with them we realized they need much more help. We got an idea to collect shoes for them because many of them were barefoot. They all come from a very poor community of Diepsloot and walk to Shumbashaba – some of them walk for miles barefoot. It is truly touching to see how grateful they are to receive the food and footwear.

Our once a month food service soon grew into a meal every Saturday. As we committed to help, more volunteers and help came our way. Every Saturday we get more volunteers. People who come don’t want to go home as the energy of the place is incredible. ACT members have spread news to their families. They joined as well and are taking turns since then every Saturday. With new volunteers we keep getting new ideas and embrace them.

Slowly more kids started coming when they heard there is free food being distributed at a beautiful place that is safe for them. Sharon was very happy to have them. In few months the number grew from 20 to 70!

We were especially concerned how these children are to survive the winter time as most of them are barefeet or wear sandals that are falling apart. It is heartbreaking to see how some of the children who come are not looked after at all and don’t have even basic hygiene.

The highlight was Mandela Day in July 2015 when we had 120 kids. With the help of one upmarket hotel we prepared a whole buffet for them like for a fancy party. They all received a bag with toiletries and were treated to a day of sports and girls got some make up.

What was even more special is that we managed to include the special needs children from  Bona Lesedi Centre and their social workers.
They were included in every activity and brought so much love and joy to all of us.

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After that event the number of children increased even more . Shumbashaba approached us again with the idea of organizing educational program for the mornings and structured sports program in the afternoon. At the moment we are looking for ways to help with it and more and more volunteers are approaching with ideas and help.

The goal is to find teachers who would structure math and English programs in accordance with age groups of children. Some of them need extra help as schools are overcrowded and some of them need more attention in some areas. This way they will not be singled out but simply included and given attention they need.
We already have few volunteers for ACT who would like to join this project. Aside from the standard education, we would like to join Shumbashaba and introduce life skills and also teach children about life values, respect towards others and respect towards food.
Lastly, one company that has been sponsoring food for Saturday Soup Kitchens has requested help from ACT SA to find families in townships who need wheelchairs that are suitable for the terrain where they live. They found out that we work with Diepsloot community and would like to donate wheelchairs for children that need them. We hope that this project will be starting soon.

I must say that my life has completely transformed from the day I joined ACT. I am deeply touched with what selfless service does to an individual and so grateful that I have met Mohanji and Biba. I will never forget the day at the Retreat in Serbia when a video about charity initiatives of ACT was played on a screen. The moment I saw it I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I got the number of Riana, President of ACT SA, and phoned her as soon as I arrived back to South Africa. The rest is history. My life indeed changed forever thanks to a beautiful platform for selfless service called ACT.

SHARING IS CARING