Hunger Alleviation Team on the beat

Three Parow women are committed to feeding the hungry.

Robin-lee Raffels, mum Jacky Raffels and friend Jocelyn Hendricks, came together to fulfil a dream of starting a soup kitchen.

In mid-June they sent out a plea for funds, food and help on social media. One week later they had three pots of nutritious, healthy soup, and some helpers, who have since fallen by the wayside.

The team continued, twice a week, producing soup and sandwiches in their Churchill Estate homes to serve almost 5 000 people. 

This excludes the warm meals and clothing delivered at least once a week to the Holy Cross orphanage in Ravensmead and Elim Night Shelter in Elsies River. The team is now planning to make rice and curry or stew.

Apart from bread donated by Blue Ribbon and soup mix from Unilever, who also sponsored their aprons, their funds are drying up.

Jacky’s husband Gilliard has supported them, topping up funds when there is not enough. He also bought the stoves and pots. 

Realising the need to be proactive, they registered as a not-for-profit organisation, calling themselves the Hunger Alleviation Team (HAT). They are now working on a letter to send to businesses and organisations in search of sponsorship.

On Tuesday August 25, the threat of rain did not deter them as Northern News joined them on a feeding run, which they do every Tuesday and Thursday. 

The soup is prepared the previous day and warmed up before delivery.

Hefting huge pots onto the boots of two cars, they deliver food to a number of locations in the greater Parow and Bellville areas. 

“We’ve been wanting to do this for a very long time,” said Robin-lee. “It’s something really close to our hearts, helping so many during these uncertain times of coronavirus. Many have lost their jobs, others have been left without homes and nothing to eat,” she said. 

“These people have crept so deeply into our hearts and we’ll give our everything to see them smile,” said Robin-lee.

Starting at Parow North train station, they served food to a couple living along the track. Next stop was shacks on McIntyre Street. A woman said she will have to move when lockdown ends.

At Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, people climbed out of makeshift shelters next to the fence to greet the team. 

David Koopman said he has lived there for eight years. Dean Jansen said if it wasn’t for the food served by the three women he would have to skarrel door to door, or ask people in cars. He said he sometimes leaves the church to visit his two children in Ravensmead.

At Parow municipal office, Eugene Martin said we had just missed law enforcement officers who took their blankets. Earlier, the team had driven past a number of law enforcement vehicles at the traffic circle at McIntyre Street where officers were speaking to homeless people. Mr Martin said this happens regularly, however, they are not offered somewhere to stay.

At Parow Museum carpark Janine Falkon and Hennie Bester gratefully received the soup.

Next stop was numerous shacks lining the vegetable market in Bellville. Across the road the team fed other people and a dog, Skarrel, living beneath trees next to the railway line.  

The last stop was the biggest group of people, those living alongside the railway fence at Parow station and taxi rank.

The City’s Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said the operation was a clean up  with the City’s Solid Waste Department. They do not remove the belongings of homeless people, such as blankets. 

Law Enforcement receive many complaints regarding littering and sidewalks that are occupied, specifically in McIntyre and Talent streets, hotspots that constantly require cleaning, he said.

Mr Dyason said they ask homeless people to move from pavements as the City needs to ensure the safe and free movement of pedestrians.

The Hunger Alleviation Team can be contacted at 063 821 5812, or Raffels23@gmail.com