Feeding Schemes

Zisize feeding schemes began in 2001. This followed a detailed survey at Mpontshini Primary School where lack of food at home was identified by 91 children as being a major problem for them, many were not eating at all on weekends. By this time, government nutrition schemes were operating four days a week at primary schools, which relieved much of the previously seen drowsiness, headaches and stomach aches which impeded children's involvement in their education, but weekends and school holidays were times of suffering for approximately 20% of children interviewed. Ingwavuma Orphan Care donated funds to cover the first two weeks during the Easter holidays in 2001 at Mpontshini. Friends in UK then provided funds for the next few years. Below - Niki helping dish up at Mpontshini in 2001.

“Hunger in childhood can lead to irreversible mental stunting, lower intelligence quotients (IQ’s) and reduced capacities to learn….… The impacts are especially great because hunger and learning have a two-way relationship. Hunger impairs learning at each stage of life; yet learning is an effective means of addressing hunger. A vicious cycle can be created: hungry children become damaged adults with limited opportunities and capacities, who end up having hungry children of their own. Such a cycle undermines human and economic development. But this cycle can also be reversed with good nutrition and enhanced learning reinforcing each other through the generations and leading to long term national development….
Hunger limits ….. opportunities in a number of ways – by causing deaths, physical stunting and mental retardation.
At school age (5 to 17 years old) hunger keeps children from making the most of opportunities to learn and develop their minds. Many do not attend school, since their parents need them to stay home to help produce food or earn money to purchase it. Even when children make it to classrooms, they cannot concentrate on lessons if they are hungry.”
United Nations World Food programme: World Hunger Series 2006 – Hunger & Learning
Above and below - children at Mpontshini Feeding Scheme

At the beginning of 2003, we began feeding the most needy children at Mgedula school, 35km from Ingwavuma Town, again funded by Zisize - The Heaton Lee Memorial Trust in UK. (Below)

In June 2003, Eating Out, a South African  internet based restaurant guide, offered to fund a feeding programme at Okhayeni, 27km from Ingwavuma Town. They give 1% of their monthly turnover, which covers the cost of feeding all the children who need a meal at Okhayeni and their siblings. It, like the other programmes, has made an enormous difference to these children’s lives.

Bongiwe from Okhayeni said:
“The food that we eat in this school helps us a lot because when we are hungry we fill up our tummies. If we have had enough we take some into containers and take it home. Therefore we thank you very much for the food that we get at school on Saturdays and Sundays.” She is one of a very large family and had been eating half the meal herself and taking the remainder home for her siblings. The older ones now also come to school at weekends and she takes additional food home for the little ones.

Sifundo said:
“The food that I eat from school is helping me. Since I started eating food from the school there is a difference. Before you could see that I was poor, now people can see that I am better than before. I thank the mlungu (white person) that gave us food during the holidays. I wish that God be with her. I say that because I am beautiful now since I started eating at school. I am not lazy any more. I am no more starving. I have got energy. I am getting fat.”

Nokukhanya Ndlovu is the school Principal. She says "Before we had the feeding programme at weekends, children came to school on Mondays with no energy. They were falling asleep in class. Now they are bright eyed and responsive, even before their 10am meal. They are all making significant progress, thanks to these meals. We as educators, are very grateful to Eating Out and Zisize.  The parents are also grateful. They have come to thank me and say that by feeding these children, the little they have at home can stretch further as there are less mouths to feed."

Children at Okayeni's Feeding Scheme (below)


December 2003 and the long Christmas break presented a big problem for children in need. It was brought to our attention that 100 of the 835 pupils at Ekuhlehleni, situated close to the borders of both Mozambique and Swaziland, had been identified as in dire need. We approached Starfish Greathearts to ask if we could use some of the money they and Anglo American had raised for us to build a centre, to feed these children during the Christmas break. Thankfully they agreed. These are some of the children helped. Subsequently IBIS and Starfish have been major contributors to all the Feeding programmes and the numbers of children being fed at weekends has increased to 663 in 2008.

We employ a local woman at each location to cook, who previously had no income in the household, so additional people benefit from the scheme in a small way.

Right is Ekuhlehleni’s cook. All meals are cooked in pots like these over open fires. Below are Mpontshini & Okhayeni's cooks

The meals we give are very basic - rice, mealie meal or samp, soya, gravy, potatoes and vegetables from Zisize's KwaQatha gardens, which were developed in 2007 - 2008.

However, we are keen to ensure they have a clean supply of drinking water, so have provided each of the six schools with rainwater tanks, connection to water mains, or borehole connection and encouraged them to keep chickens to boost children's protein intake.
At Mpontshini we have not only chickens but pigs, ducks, geese and rabbits

Manyiseni’s feeding scheme began for both Primary and High School pupils in December 2004. In 2006 the scheme was extended to the KwaQatha Centre Site (below).

In 2007 we began a scheme at Entabayengwe Primary School and in 2008, a breakfast scheme at Ingwavuma High was introduced to help those children in Grade 12 who had come to school on an empty stomach (150 children). This has immense cost implications and we would like to extend this to other grades and also to isiBhamu High School in Manyiseni

A related but more intense form of help is achieved by matching donors in the UK, (who give R250 per month), with a family in need in Ingwavuma. This amount enables us to buy mealie meal, samp, rice, sugar beans, soya, powdered milk, sugar, soap, candles, matches each month plus occasional other items, though food costs have risen dramatically with cooking oil for example being 4 times the cost it was in 2004.

The families we help are often child headed or where there are adult carers, they may receive no, or very low, state benefits. It does not meet all their needs but makes the difference between coping and not. ANSA, through AIDS Foundation and Starfish have also given support to this scheme, which currently helps 29 families.
To date we have only been able to help identified families in Majwayiza but as we work more intensively with families, it is likely that we will find a similar number of families in need of this kind of help in each of the five other areas we work in, so additional funds are urgently needed. We would also like to provide each of them with a toilet as most have no toilet facilities and a rainwater tank, but do not currently have the funds.

It costs just R300 a year to fully cover the cost of a child’s meal each non school day throughout the year and contribute to the cook’s wage. We need regular committed donations. R250 a month will support a whole family.

Please visit the How to Help page.

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