Porridge project fills bellies, warms hearts

At the back, from left, are Montrose Park Neighbourhood Watch members Florina Jonkers and Alison Corbett. Front: Giving Hope Foundation members Bertha Abrahams, Salama Mitchell, Sandra Paul, chairman Ulrich Fransman, and Elizabeth Mowers.

Montrose Park volunteers are serving bowls of porridge to children on their way to school in the mornings.

The porridge project started on Tuesday January 25, says Ulrich Fransman, chairman of the Giving Hope Foundation, a non-profit organisation, which together with members of the Montrose Neighbourhood Watch, is preparing the meals and serving them to the pupils as they pass through Natalie Park.

Many in the community are unemployed and grandparents are using their pensions to feed their families, says Mr Fransman.

The organisation was registered with the Department of Social Development in October. It has run various programmes, including modelling shows and soccer tournaments to keep children off the streets.

“Giving them hope and alternatives to gangsterism and drugs,” said Mr Fransman. “There is a lot of poverty here, which was the case before the pandemic but now it is even worse.”

Volunteer Sandra Paul said many of the residents did not know where their next meal was going to come from because of the pandemic.

“Many of them lost their jobs, and we saw many people who did not have food in their homes. Children are taken care of by their grandparents.”

Education could only start once children had something in their bellies, she said.

“We want to educate and uplift them. We want businesses to support us in establishing a computer room or teach skills.”

The foundation works with another non-profit organisation, the Mustadafin Foundation, to distribute food in the afternoon.

On Saturday mornings, they have clean-ups in the park.

“This must be a safe space where children on either side of the park can play,” said another volunteer, Elizabeth Mowers.

Mr Fransman said they had approached gangs on either side of the park about keeping the area safe.

The foundation and neighbourhood watch members plan to take youth aged 15 to 21, for a hike up Lion’s Head, and, on March 28, children aged 7 to 13 will visit Kirstenbosch.

Mr Fransman said the activities cost money, but it was well worth it in caring for the community and its future leaders.

All of the projects are funded by donations.

Call Mr Fransman at 084 093 6031 or email info@givinghopesa.co.za for more information.