It has been a difficult couple of years for people in many communities around South Africa. Food insecurity has increased and soup kitchens, feeding schemes and people who are willing to make a difference have become pivotal in the fight against hunger.

Amazing people like Sbu are not only helping to provide nutrition, but he is extending his support to create multiple more sustainable opportunities for vulnerable people.

Eunice Ralarala is the founder of the Gratefulness Community Soup Kitchen in the Drommedaris extension of Mbekweni, a township between Wellington and Paarl in the Western Cape.

She started the soup kitchen after seeing a young boy scraping for food in the street close to her home. As a domestic worker, she used part of her salary to buy the first ingredients to start Gratefulness.

Two years later, the soup kitchen provides meals for 170 – 200 children each day.

“I began the soup kitchen with four other ladies in 2020 because I believe every child deserves at least one nutritious meal a day. We started small but the number of children that line up for food grows larger with each passing day,” says Eunice.

Small kids in the area bring their own containers and line up in a queue that sometimes extends for 60 meters.

Click here to watch Eunice’s story

Meet the Passionate Volunteer and Teacher, Sbu

The primary focus of the soup kitchen was to feed children, but Eunice wanted to do more. She desperately needed someone of character to teach much needed life skills to children in her community. That is when she got Sbu involved.

Sbu, a teacher at Mbekweni’s Langabuya Primary School, became a passionate volunteer at Gratefulness Community Soup Kitchen.

I came from a place of privilege. Most people I grew up with didn’t have a father, or their parents were unemployed. I ‘ve had much more love and support than they had,” says Sbu.

He started a life skills programme where children could have a safe space to share their personalities, discover their talents and get a strong support structure. A place where they can learn about their social rights and responsibilities.

According to Sbu, the children are already showing progress.

“Their world is expanding every day and they are starting to ask the right questions. We recently took them on a field trip to a swimming pool in Wellington and, hopefully, soon they might even experience an overnight stay somewhere nice,” says Sbu.

The life skills programme takes part three times a week and over 25 girls and boys attend after meals.

Planting a Seed of Hope

Sbu came up with an idea of starting a vegetable garden and spoke to his father who, in his capacity of reverend at the National Baptist Church, quickly secured a space for the garden.

He called for the youth in his community to get involved by working in the garden over weekends and many heeded the call. According to Sbu, 20% of the harvest will go to the soup kitchen and the other 80% will be sold and the money reinvested into the garden.

“The goal is to make the community self-sufficient. We don’t want our children to rely on hand-outs. We are pushing them to focus on their schooling, their talents and to make tangible commitments towards helping themselves. You must create your own destiny, nobody else can do it for you,” added Sbu.

Leader and Role Model for the Youth

Sbu is a community influencer, and he regards himself as a “big brother” to kids who seek guidance in life.

“I have to be generous, not just with giving material things, but with my knowledge too. Children come to me with questions about their school subjects, because I teach English, Geography and Economics,” says Sbu.

Sbu also helps to recon the soup kitchen’s financial statements and monthly reports, drafts their grant proposals and he also tutors mathematics after hours.

“We are exceedingly happy to have him here. He helps us with so much and he guides our children to find their own stepping stones and to seek their own paths,” says Eunice.

Photographs and original words by Marzahn Botha.