Two local organisations, Open Hearts and Thee Roots Voluntary Charity Organisation (TROVOCO) have partnered to feed at least 150 children aged between zero and 15 years in Bulawayo’s Emakhandeni suburb as part of cushioning them against the effects of COVID-19 lockdown.
In an interview with CITE, founding director of Open Hearts, Cora Ndebele, said the kitchen soup initiative was introduced after the entail 21-day lockdown.
Zimbabwe entered the 21-day national lockdown on March 30 resulting many people especially those in the informal sector being locked down with no sources of income.
“We started this project during lockdown tenure after those three-week elapsed,” said Ndebele.
“We realized that most people within our community were in informal sector hence they were hit hard by the Covid-19 issues leading to hungry families.”
She said the children are currently benefiting from the children porridge which is served in the morning following the suspension of late lunch due to funding constraints.
“I came up with this initiative and invited Dorothy Magoba also from Emakhandeni to start the soup kitchen initiative mainly giving children porridge in the morning,” Ndebele said.
“Currently we serve 100-150 children a day and we have named our projects open hearts meaning we have opened our hearts to serve our community. Initially we served porridge in the morning and late lunch/ dinner that we served at 4pm. We then stopped along the way because of financial constraints and we now stick to morning porridge.”
She said they were appealing for food aid to bring back the evening meal.
“Our hope is to be self-sustained and bring back the lunch/dinner initiative. We are mainly appealing for food stuffs such as mealie meal, sugar, cooking oil, beans, peanut butter and firewood and soap amongst other basic commodities,” said Ndebele.
Ndebele added that they hoped to see the soup kitchen growing even post Covid-19 era and be able to offer decent meals to the less privileged.
In addition, spokesperson for TROVOCO), Rashid Mhlanga, said they also take the opportunity to teach the children about Covid-19.
“TROVOCO has partnered with Open Hearts to initiate food relief the programme where we saw that there are members of society, the children who are going hungry because their parents and guardians are failing to provide for them since some lost their jobs while some, their business are not working due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mhlanga.
“We are serving porridge from 8am to 10 am, so whatever you have please bring it forth and enhance this soup kitchen and feed children. We also teach them about Covid-19 and donate masks too,” he said.