We have been engaging with the community of Mitchells Plain in Cape Town, South Africa, for over two and a half years. One of the many things we do in Mitchells Plain is assist with a nutrition program that is run through the primary schools there. We provide food for 600 children on a Wednesday which allows the school to extend their existing supplies for the rest of the week. For many children this is the only meal they receive all day.
But what is amazing about this program is not the food and the full tummies of the children (although that makes a big difference to the children). but it is about the way a feeding program can lead to so much more. One of the big needs in Mitchells Plain is good basic literacy. There are many children getting through to high school who are functionally illiterate. This means that they are much more likely to drop out of high school, be unemployed and unemployable so they join a gang and maintain the cycle of poverty and violence that has defined the community of Mitchells Plain. Our feeding program that we have been running in the school has opened doors into running a literacy catch-up program with the school, which allows us to come alongside the teachers and resource them to be able to get the best results from their students. Whether it is through books and physical resources, or teacher training, or volunteers in the classroom, our team are beginning to see significant improvements in the classes we have been working with.
The feeding program has also opened doors to running after-school programs to keep the children off the streets, again an opportunity to speak hope and purpose into the children’s lives. It has allowed us access to speak into the lives of parents and teachers in the school, to build them up and to know there is a company of people that believe in them and want the best for them and their community.
One of the most powerful things that this feeding program has done is to give opportunities for women in the local community to volunteer their time and effort to feed the children of their community. Every week they come and prepare food and then are able to serve the children of their local school. This is such an amazing thing for us to place value on them and to empower them to be the change in their community.
Our partnership with Hillsong Africa Foundation is far more than just a feeding program, it is a community development program that is seeing incredible results as we come alongside a community and walk the journey with them. We have a long way to go but step by step a bowl of rice and stew can transform the lives of children a world away us because a feeding program is never just about the food.
Hillsong Aid & Development
For more info on our Aid & Development initiatives please visit hillsong.com/bwc