Bergvliet woman battles hunger from her home

Lorraine Williams preparing food for the hungry in her Bergvliet home.

Lorraine Williams, of Bergvliet, may be living on a grant and a small annuity from her late husband, but for the past five years, she and a group of volunteers she organises have fed about 75 people a week.

One of the volunteers is Portia Noble, of Southfield, who says there are people she knows personally on the streets who are hungry.

“As a Christian, I follow the example of Jesus and feel blessed to help others with the little I have. There can be no greater gift of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.”

Ms Williams can’t drive but her grandson, Jason Ravell, of Kirstenhof, steps in when she needs to do deliveries or shop for ingredients. He also helped her to start a WhatsApp group to stay in touch with her network of more than 100 volunteers.

“I’m privileged and blessed,” says Mr Ravell, a 21-year-old UWC law student. “The few hours I give up on Saturdays is the least I can do to give back. It’s shown me how lucky I am and how much people take that loaf of bread in the kitchen for granted when there are so many out there unsure of where their next meal will come from.”

And then there is Hannah Hanekom who was 10 when she told her mother that she had so much money that she wanted to buy ingredients to make a big pot of food to feed the homeless.

Ms Williams met her mother, Tanya Hankom, about five years ago so the Southfield duo joined her on a Saturday outreach. Ms Hanekom says she is very proud of her daughter, who is now a 15-year-old Wynberg Girls’ High School pupil.

“So small in stature but with an enormous heart, her caring nature has driven her from a young age from blanket drives to soup kitchen and cricket equipment drives. Having stray animals and asking to adopt those in need is a frequent dilemma our family faces. No elderly person must be in fear when Hannah Hanekom is near as helping the elderly is a habit she tells us she won’t break.”

The volunteers deliver three big pots of food every Saturday to regulars at the Shell garage in Main Road, Bergvliet, to those in the park across from Tafelberg Furnishers and opposite Diep River police station. She says some ask for extra food to take to a bedridden granny or their children. She says some of those they help are on drugs, but there is nothing she can do about that except give love. Others flee home for a better situation on the street. The husband of one woman is a gambler, says Ms Williams. As soon as she is paid, he demands her salary and that is why she has no food.

Student teacher Kelly Blake, 19, from Southfield, says she is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. “I not only get to deliver food to those who need but also get to form relationships with them and that inspires me more to be kind.”

Single parent and physio, Tania Thomas, of Heathfield, says her life is not easy as she is faced with many obstacles. “But I am blessed to have support of family and friends. In return, I feel that as a Christian and mother it is my duty to give back and help my fellow neighbours in need.”

Ann Bailey, of Grassy Park, says she has always enjoyed helping the less fortunate by cooking and feeding them.

Housewife, Charlene Scholz, 44, of Allenby Estate, has been assisting with cooking and also donates food and containers, which she says are in great need, as well as biscuits and anything to make up packets for the children as a Christmas treat.

Ms Williams says John Graham Primary School in Plumstead had a bread drive at the school for three weeks and donated about 250 loaves of bread.

Ms Williams is looking for donations of sanitiser, bottled water, pilchards, rice, pasta, plastic spoons and containers. Call her at 074 183 1099 if you can help.