ABOUT THE PROJECT
This project ensured that the impoverished community of Vrygrond did not suffer from hunger as a result of job loss during the Pandemic. This was achieved by creating Food Kitchens in the community with foods that were sourced from local gardens and farms in Phillipi. The feeding scheme fed the community twice a day in multiple locations around the neighbourhood.
Vrygrond United 4 Change (VU4C) is a youth led organization, that centres community strengthening through self organising. We consist of around 30 volunteers from Vrygrond/Capricorn and Overcome Heights seeking to create resilient strategies for whatever the future may bring, as well as addressing existing issues in our community.
AMAVA OLUNTU is a Muizenberg based NPC that works to build community through supporting youths to create and implement their own solutions to prevailing challenges they’re facing. The focus is on building individuals’ capacity to identify their core interests and passions, and to instill the ability to express themselves confidently and in the face of power, thereby increasing their likelihood of succeeding in whatever endeavor they pursue. They have been playing an incubation role for VU4C, as well as assisting in financial and administrative management.
VU4C initially started out as a response to Covid-19 at the beginning of lockdown. As time went on we realized that we could use the movement of the project to create and activate many responses to the daily challenges we face. These projects directly assist people affected by covid-19 in Vrygrond area as well as aim to amend inherited systematic inequalities from apartheid that are still affecting our community of about 40,000 people today.
Our mission is to unite as a community, and use everyone’s individual skills and resources to provide the tools needed for dignified, community led services.
We spent many weeks mapping our community. This involved representatives exploring what was needed within their immediate neighbourhoods – what needs there were, and what resources there were. We identified existing kitchens and created new ones where there was need. This resulted in the setup of 15 new kitchens, to take pressure off the existing ones, and to ensure everyone could access a nutritious meal relatively close to home, without the danger of overcrowding. We also identified vulnerable households, and set up systems for kitchens to get meals to those who couldn’t get to the kitchens.
We are exploring how we can make the kitchens more sustainable by developing gardening projects alongside them. We experimented with grow bags and are currently in a mapping process to identify larger pieces of lands where we can learn and inspire the community around food growing, and also grow food at a much bigger scale, to supply to the kitchens.
We identified the need for basic hygiene products and sanitary pads for women in the community, and created a dignity pack drive to provide for these needs and hope to grow this into a bigger movement that addresses education around feminine health and hygiene.
We recognize the need to upskill ourselves and community to be more independent, and are partaking in communications, entrepreneurial and leadership learning programmes, as well as exploring the idea of a resource center within our community that can provide access to internet, data, information, mentorship, tools and resources to incubate micro-enteprises.
We also recognized a serious need in our community for emotional and psychological support, especially for women. Poverty, gangsterism and drug and alcohol abuse, result in high rates of gender based violence and almost every household experiences high levels of abuse, however there is often no safe place for people to go to when they have experienced trauma. We wish to grow a movement of young women from within the community to be trained in emotional and psychological support, and to create a safe and beautiful space for this to happen from.
With the assistance of this grant from Tekano, and the partnership with Food Flow ZA, we have been able to keep these kitchens stocked with food to be able to continue providing nutritious meals daily to their neighbourhoods. Food Flow ZA supports local small scale producers and fisherfolk, so the food is not only freshly harvested and super nutritious, but it is also supporting the livelihoods of many small scale producers and gone a long way to keeping their businesses running through the pandemic. Each kitchen serves an average of 150 meals per day, so in total all the kitchens together provide around 13 500 meals per week. This is going a very long way to boosting the immune systems of our community and making us stronger and better able to create long lasting change. Kitchens were also very grateful to receive bigger pots with which to cook, as this is currently a limiting factor for many kitchens on how many meals they can serve.
So far the Tekano grant has enabled us to distribute dignity packs to 200 young women. This drive is also supporting a local business to create reusable menstrual pads, and promoting a movement to create space for women to gather to have conversations and learn about menstrual health.
All of this requires a lot of time and energy, and the stipends, airtime and data from Tekano has been hugely helpful in in enabling the logistics and coordination required.