Masisizane Service Centre (Masisizane) is a hub of activity in Inanda in KwaZulu Natal. Masisizane was established in 1995 by a group of women in the community and the Inanda Congregational Church who had a common interest: to help the sick and the elders in their community. Two years ago, Mrs Rita Bophela, who runs the centre, heard about FoodBank. She approached us and persuaded us to help them.
Masisizane takes care of people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, the elderly, the poor, the disabled, orphans, and others who are unable to provide for themselves. Poverty is a major problem in this area. Many children, disabled and elderly people have no-one to take care of them. Masisizane and the individuals involved have taken on the burden of providing for these people.
It is not just about a hand-out, though. Masisizane realises the need to take steps to solve the underlying problems. The organisation provides life skills and prevention programmes for children and youths, HIV/AIDS training with voluntary counselling and testing, home-based care, and a support group. They also teach people skills that will help them to become more self-sufficient. These include gardening, sewing, candle making and bead work. 'We try to provide skills so that people can help themselves,' says Mrs Bophela.
A constant basic need, however, is food. FoodBank provides Masisizane with food on a weekly basis. The food package differs, depending on the provisions that FoodBank has available. It may be dry goods and staple items, or fresh bread. 'Sometimes, depending on the rains,' says Mrs Bophela, 'we are able to supplement the FoodBank goods with greens from our own garden.' There is never enough, however, because people in the area have learnt that Masisizane provides food. 'And we cannot turn a hungry person away,' says Mrs Bophela. More and more people from the surrounding areas and even the local clinic and hospital ask Masisizane for assistance.
Masisizane currently feeds, from Monday to Friday, around 220 people. Cooked food is also provided to caregivers who take it to those who are home-bound and cannot get to the centre.
Masisizane has a good relationship with FoodBank, and has become a mini distribution hub in the area. Mrs Bophela explains 'FoodBank and Masisizane work well together. FoodBank often delivers food to Masisizane for the centre itself and for other FoodBank approved organisations in the area. Masisizane, then assist FoodBank by allowing these organisations to collect from them.'
Mrs Bophela believes in working together to create a better world. We at FoodBank couldn't agree more!
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