INSPIRED by her late grandfather’s struggle to fight poverty, Donae Carelse, 30, makes breakfast, prepares lunch boxes and serves lunch from Monday to Friday to needy children in her community.
The mother of two, who hails from Parkridge, East London, said her grandfather had handed out sandwiches and juice to children after school in Parkside when he was still alive.
“I decided to follow in his footsteps after his death as I saw a need in the community – and that is how the feeding scheme came about. I started with just a R50 meal – I can still remember, it was just soya mince, mixed vegetables and rice,” said Carelse.
The initiative, which started in 2014, sees children come from as far afield as Eluxolweni, Duncan Village and Pefferville, just to get something to fill their stomachs.
“On Saturdays we get about 400 children or more,” Carelse said.
“PNA and the Premier Hotel came aboard last year and brought loads of nutritious food for the feeding scheme. The chefs then dish it out to the kids, parents and elders.
“Whatever is left over, they leave behind and I give it to the older people who cannot come to my house,” said Carelse.
Carelse said she understood what the children were going through, as she had similar experiences growing up.. thanks to her own troubles growing up.
“I know how it is when things are tough at home, so I know what these kids are going through.
My father was a drunkard and for me growing up like that, “I know what growing up in a home like that is like,” she said.
On Fridays, Carelse hosts a youth group for Bible studies and also organises workshops with the children in her community.
“It feels wonderful to do what I do, I’m very blessed and grateful for the grace of God,” she said.
Carelse said she recently adopte took charge of a piece of land in her neighbourhood with the hopes of turning it into a playground and a place where children could come to do their homework.
“I adopted the area with the aim of turning it into a playground area. When the children returned home from school, they would have a venue to do their homework.
“It is still a work in progress and I would accept all the assistance I can get,” she said.