Mhani Gingi celebrates outstanding women leaders in the community


Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network is honouring National Women’s Day, 9 August 2020, by celebrating the outstanding leadership of the women working with the organisation to provide sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable groups.  Among them are five remarkable women who help to drive Mhani Gingi’s initiatives to combat food insecurity among marginalised communities during COVID-19.  This is being done through three soup stations Mhani Gingi is overseeing in Cape Town. The food is generously donated by Ladles of Love and others who also tirelessly look for food donations from other individuals and organisations.  

A nutritious lunch being served by Delicia Kiewieto and other partners of Mhani Gingi to the community in Azalea Street, Uitsig, in Cape Town on 4 August 2020. This soup station catered for 260 people on the day, including adults and children.

Gladys Gobodo is helping to feed vulnerable children in the Athlone/Mannenberg area.  Vanessa Baadjies is team leader of 25 people with physical disabilities who are providing soup kitchens that feed hundreds of people every week in the impoverished Uitsig Community on the Cape Flats.  Cordelia Romes, Principal of Blouvlei School for Learners with Special Needs (LSN), is assisting Mhani Gingi’s soup station in the Retreat area and providing other support.  Tabisa Mahlathi, Mhani Gingi Project Co-ordinator, manages the Mhani Gingi Organic Herb and Vegetable Seedling Nursery which supports the three soup stations and Mhani Gingi’s various community food gardens established in Cape Town communities.

She is assisted by Nursery Assistant, Vuyisa Tekwana, who has been able to acquire a home and support her two children through employment at the Nursery since Mhani Gingi’s inception 15 years ago.

Christine April serving food and porridge to the children and adults at the Wendy Park service point in Uitsig in July 2020.

The three Mhani Gingi soup stations helping to meet the expanded need for food resulting from the COVID-19 lockdown are a continuation of the usual work of Mhani Gingi and these remarkable women, to alleviate poverty in vulnerable communities in Cape Town.  Mhani Gingi will feature their stories throughout Women’s Month 2020 in South Africa.  The holistic Mhani Gingi approach is well illustrated by the involvement of the women social entrepreneurs in the propagation of seedlings, right through to the delivery of nutritious, cooked meals directly to hungry people on the streets of our communities.

Using what they have

“These women are not waiting around for someone or something to come and help them to solve the problems in their communities,” said Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, who is an award-winning social entrepreneur and an Ashoka Fellow.   “These women take the initiative and ‘use what they have’ to help to solve problems and meet the challenges in their communities.  This has always been the approach that Mhani Gingi advocates.  Mhani Gingi doesn’t just talk; we walk the talk.”

Each soup station feeds about 200 people – and often more in Uitsig Community – twice a week, amounting to about 1 200 hungry people being fed per week by Mhani Gingi.  The name ‘Mhani Gingi’ is taken from the Shangaan words for an industrious woman.  “We also want to take this opportunity to thank Ladles of Love for the generous donations of the food, making it possible for Mhani Gingi to feed hundreds of vulnerable people every week,” added Masebenza. 


Another donation from Ladles of Love, this time of cooking and kitchen equipment,  has boosted Mhani Gingi’s efforts at three Soup Stations which are feeding hungry people nutritious meals to provide food security in the greater Cape Town area in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danny Diliberto, Founder of Ladles of Love, delivers sparkling new equipment to the Mhani Gingi Community Food Kitchen on 18 June 2020.

Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network is a non-profit organisation which for the past 15 years has pursued a mission to alleviate poverty and hunger through providing sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable communities, mostly situated on the Cape Flats and in the Cape Town area.   The need among these beneficiaries of Mhani Gingi has been impacted by the lockdown necessitated by COVID-19 virus in the country.

Sparkling new pots and two cookers from Ladles of Love.

Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, Lillian Masebenza, was overjoyed on Thursday 18 June 2020 when a delegation led by the founder of the Ladles of Love organisation, Danny Diliberto, delivered a generous donation of two cookers, two large cooking pots, soup ladles and other kitchen equipment and utensils to assist Mhani Gingi’s soup kitchens that are preparing and distributing food in Cape Town communities presently.

Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, thanks Danny Diliberto for another generous donation.

Since May 2020, Mhani Gingi has received welcome twice-weekly donations of vegetables, rice, maize and other supplies from the Ladles of Love initiative. These donations have boosted the efforts of Mhani Gingi’s three Soup Stations situated in Mannenberg/Athlone, Uitsig Community, and at Blouvlei LSN School for Learners with Special Needs in Retreat.  Each of the food stations feeds about 200 people, totalling about 600 vulnerable individuals being assisted by Mhani Gingi.  This amounts to about 1 200 people being fed per week.

Targeting vulnerable groups

The three Soup Stations represent the target groups of Mhani Gingi, which include vulnerable women and children, people with disabilities, and youth with special needs.

Mhani Gingi network member, Gladys Gobodo, feeds vulnerable children in the Mannenberg/Athlone area of the Cape Flats.  A group of 25 people with disabilities under team leader, Vanessa Baadjies, maintains community food gardens at Uitsig Primary School and at the Uitsig Community Centre, supervised by Mhani Gingi.  The group also provides a community soup kitchen which feeds elderly and hungry people in Uitsig, Ravensmead.

The support from Ladles of Love will help Mhani Gingi’s efforts to provide nutritious food and combat food insecurity among vulnerable communities.

“These are not just once-off soup kitchens but a continuation of our work with vulnerable groups in our communities,” said Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi.  “I am so thankful for the donations from Ladles of Love which goes so well with the work we are doing on a daily basis.”

The supplies from Ladles of Love are distributed by the team from Mhani Gingi Organic Herb and Seedling Nursery, led by Project Co-ordinator, Tabisa Mahlathi, to the cooks preparing food at the three Soup Stations.

Ladles of Love supplies soup kitchens and shelters, supporting more than 100 beneficiaries and non-profit entities in Cape Town, according to the organisation’s website.  Ladles of Love has expanded its activities significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the website said. The Ladles of Love initiative started in 2014 when Diliberto was inspired to reach out to homeless people.

For further information contact Founding Director, Lillian Masebenza, on mobile phone +27 082 465 4687.


Aligned with our environmental efforts under the Flagship Programme, Mhani Gingi is championing the spekboom in its vision as a fighter against climate change specifically because of the plant’s exceptional carbon storage capabilities. 

By Mhani Gingi Trustee Dr. Earl Starr

Commonly known as ‘spekboom’ (directly translated as ‘porkbush’), the wonder plant, Portulacaria Afra, is indigenous to South Africa. It serves as food for elephants and other wildlife in its native habitat of the Eastern Cape and can grow up to  6 m tall. Once considered just an ornamental bonsai plant outside of its home range of South Africa, the shrub is rapidly gaining attention for its exceptional carbon storage capabilities.

Aligned with our environmental pillar under the Flagship Programme, Mhani Gingi has championed the spekboom in our vision as a fighter against climate change specifically because of its ability to store more carbon than tropical rain forests.  Looking at more short-term benefits to our network members, we will build on the existing model of community vegetable gardens to further empower communities towards sustainable livelihoods.

The support from funders for seedling tray donations to our community gardeners will in turn provide a steady supply of spekboom into the two resale channels of 1) bulk seedling sales for private gardens and public open spaces and 2) potted mature plant sales in handcrafted baskets from crafters with disabilities at the Uitsig Community Centre.

Baskets to hold potted spekboom were made by crafters with disabilities from Uitsig Community.

FIVE reasons to adopt a spekboom

  1. This proudly South African plant is easy to grow … with excellent soil binding properties to reduce erosion.
  2. It is water-wise and super resilient … even in extreme weather conditions!
  3. It is rich in basic nutrients … yes, that’s right, it is edible and also has known healing properties.
  4. Known to live up to 200 years old, spekboom stimulates biodiversity, enabling other plants to grow and live near it … and it is an important fodder for local herbivores.
  5. More importantly, it helps to fight climate change … acting as a carbon sponge to improve the quality of the air we breathe.

Spekboom products for private and coffee shop table applications


SpekMania is taking off in a BIG way … so don’t get left behind on the ‘hot climate’ seat!  Place your order now before stocks run out. 

For further information contact Founding Director Lillian Masebenza on mobile phone +27 082 465 4687.


Keeping your spirits up during the COVID-19 pandemic

The stay-at-home and social isolation the during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown could be challenging for many people to deal with, according to Sandy Lewis, head of therapeutic services at Akeso mental health facilities.

Lewis and Mark de la Rey, a clinical psychologist at Akeso Kenilworth in Cape Town, offered the following practical advice on how to reduce stress levels and anxiety during the lockdown.  This is a summarised version of their advice.  Read the FULL VERSION at this link:  
Supporting your mental health while in lockdown

How to reduce stress levels and anxiety during the lockdown:

  • Routine creates structure,which is particularly reassuring for children. Planning activities and having daily goals can assist in keeping one motivated.  Keep to a daily schedule for things such as meal times, exercise time and bedtime.
  • Look after yourself and practice self-care. This includes adopting a diet that is best for you and following good sleep practices.
  • Getting 20 minutes of exercise a day can also help lift your mood and reduce feelings of tension, as it releases endorphins, the ‘feel good hormone’. It can furthermore assist in supporting the immune system.
  • Should you be on your own or have problems with “cabin fever”, try to stay connected with loved ones and friends through a phone or video call or by messaging them regularly. This enables us to obtain support, share concerns and stay connected, so keep in touch with your social networks.
  • Helping others can provide a great distraction from our own anxieties, so consider ways you can assist others remotely over this period.
  • Try to use the time to engage meaningfully with your family.
  • Stay focused on the present moment and your own current issues that need addressing rather than stressing about a future we are not able to predict.
  • Support your optimism by thinking of all the wonderful ways people are supporting one another during this crisis.
  • By all means provide your children with factual information, but do try to avoid projecting your own anxieties and scaring them with some the developments associated with the pandemic.
  • Keep in mind that stress can manifest itself in the child becoming either more isolated or more defiant.
  • If you feel self-isolation is having a negative impact on your mental health, you should seek professional advice. There are a number of organisations that provide telephonic mental health support.
  • Remember, a sense of humour keeps things light, especially with children and older family members who might be feeling particularly anxious.

 Read the full article here: 
Supporting your mental health while in lockdown

Re-published with kind permission of Akeso Group.  Akeso is a group of private in-patient mental health facilities and is part of the Netcare Group.

Mhani Gingi and Beating Heart SA deliver winter warmth and support for Mandela Day 2016

Nocawe Mdoda, Principal of Ikhayalethu Educare, took delivery of donations from many individual Capetonians to improve her educare facility and received donations from Beating Heart SA to support the initiative Mdoda has planned for youth of Khayelitsha in honour of Mandela Day 2016. Mdoda’s Mandela Day event to take place on 16 July 2016 aims to inspire a group of 20 young people with hope for the future and to encourage them to avoid substance abuse.  Mdoda’s supporters from her community in Khayelitsha, shown with her in the image above, wished to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, in June about three hundred children benefited when Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network and Christy Haefele, ­­Founder and Director of Beating Heart SA­­, delivered warm scarves, caps, leggings and gloves to five educare facilities in the greater Philippi area of Cape Town, to spread winter warmth and love.  Each of the items was hand-made with love in every stitch.

A total of 273 children at Enkuthazweni Educare, Stars of Tomorrow Educare, Siyamthanda Educare, Lindisiwe Educare and Lidinga Educare received the warm winter clothing.  In addition, left-over scarves and baby jerseys were distributed to the parents of smaller children.

Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network, in collaboration with AfriCAN Charity, has been training Early Childhood Development (ECD) principals and practitioners, including Mdoda, from 15 community educare facilities in Khayelitsha, Langa and Philippi East townships of Cape Town since May 2015.

Beating Heart SA, among initiatives, acts as a drop-off­ centre collecting clothing, books and toys whi­ch are then distributed to vari­ous safe houses, schools and othe­r non-profit organisations.  Haefele is currently a Schwarzkopf Professional Mrs SA 2016 Finalist.

Nocawe Mdoda – Mandela Day

Three organisations, African Change, Lighton Education and Mhani Gingi Social 
Entrepreneurial Network, in partnership, 20150718_124158 
provided a series of 6 workshops to Early Childhood Development practitioners located in the Philippi area. These workshops included the value of using waste in the ECD centres and how skills, concepts and activities could be developed to deliver quality education through the use of recyclable items.

One passionate young teacher, Nocawe Mdoda, embraced this concept, and although she does not yet have her own ECD, chose to spend Mandela Day providing young children in her immediate community with an ECD made up purely of waste. This encouraged the young children to view waste through different “glasses” , encouraged parents to use waste at home to enhance the learning experience of their young children and to encourage a clean environment.

With no structure within which to set up an ECD, she used the outside area of her parents’ home in Khayelitsha. Good weather was a definite prerequisite for this and this is what Nocawe got! This inspirational young lady had a team of learners, ranging from grades 8 – 10, who assisted her in her preparations. They, too, were wearing “waste”. These learners gave their school holidays to paying it forward to the younger community members.

“A wonderful afternoon was achieved by all, where young and old gathered to celebrate the life of Madiba, who said ‘education is the greatest weapon anyone can
use to change the world.’ Nocawe, for being that change, we commend you. Thank you for inspiring us all! Stand tall!!” said Joan Wright, Trustee of Mhani Gingi and a committed educator who helped train the ECD practitioners.


Lillian is invited to speak in Women’s Parliament

On the 9th of August 1956, 20 000 brave women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest  against the pass laws that was introduced under the Apartheid system. This march was one of the biggest demontrations in the history of South Africa and the National Women’s Day is celebrated yearly in memory of these strong women.

On this occasion Lillian is invited to the national Parliament as a guestspeaker on August 21-23. The theme for the event is “Working together to enhance Women’s empowerment through skills development and sustainable jobs”. They were 20 000 women marching in 1956 –  imagine our opportunities and what we can achieve togehter in today’s society!