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.
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.
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.