Montrose Park resident Garreth le Roux feels he cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of the homeless.
He celebrated his 26th birthday by feeding 1 000 people from Mitchell’s Plain to Sea Point.
Garreth initially aimed to feed 200 people but made his plan more ambitious and eventually provided 1 000 people with a meal on Thursday January 24 and on his birthday the next day, Friday January 25.
While he had planned to finance the project on his own, he reached out to friends when it got bigger and they got the ball rolling.
“Getting monetary donations from people in the month of January is asking for a lot but once people share the same vision and they see the need their hearts automatically open up. The humanitarian within you wakes up.”
Garreth also regularly hands out fruit to people standing at the robots who might need something to eat.
“A hungry person struggles to sleep at night. When living on the street, the conditions are probably 10 times worse since you’re cold, having to watch your back, also looking out for the odd security guard chasing people away and generally just trying to make sure that you survive a night in the cold. I know I can’t change the world overnight but I could at least give someone a decent start to their day,” he said.
Garreth is in the entertainment industry but said one day when he gets tired of stadium shows and concerts, he would want to go out to teach children how to read and write. “Without fail, every day, we interact with people whose basic needs have not been met for the longest time. I cannot turn a blind eye.”
His family and a few close friends helped him make the food last week.
The preparations started when everyone came from work and their first destination was at 9pm.
They decided on the route as they went along, starting at the Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre then moving through the southern suburbs in Kenilworth, Claremont and Mowbray, on the main roads and the odd bus terminus, then to the CBD and Beach Road in Green Point and Sea Point. They also reached an informal settlement in Bo-Kaap which they didn’t know existed.
“It was a very heart-warming and overwhelming feeling at the same time. Seeing mothers and their loved ones having their first meal after a very long time rocked my emotions to the core. I could only hold back the tears for so long. What really brought a lump to my throat was a person asking if we had brought any blankets,” said Garreth.
“From the moment we started, I knew that this was going to be an unforgettable experience. When we pulled up to the Fan Walk in Green Point, under the bridge, I saw some people getting out of black wheelie bins. There was an old man wrapped in plastic bags just to stay warm. An elderly couple made a joke while thanking us, saying they’re being spoiled with breakfast in bed,” he said.
“People don’t need to know that you’re feeding the masses. (Get) straight to the point, less procrastination and more productivity. I plan on not only reaching the needy but also reaching those who are able to make a difference in at least one person’s life. One person becomes 10 and before you know it, you’ve reached a thousand,” he said.
His cousin, Jay-Dee Collins, said she is proud of him for carrying out this initiative. “He has a big heart. He told me what his aim was, to feed the homeless. I was immediately on board. The process was extremely overwhelming,” she said.
“This is something very dear to my heart. Whether you’re feeding, clothing, teaching or even helping an old lady cross the street, love is an universal language and there are a million ways to show it,” said Garreth.
“It’s definitely going to be an ongoing thing. We’re already planning our next mission and we’ll need all the help we can get.”
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