Unemployed woman starts soup kitchen for the elderly

Pretoria – Pinky Sekai of Ga-rankuwa, north of Pretoria, has become a beacon of hope for her community.

In July 2016, Sekai was deeply touched when several grant recipients came knocking on her door asking for food while waiting to be served at a nearby pay point for the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

The plight of the elderly in particular, prompted her to start a soup kitchen as most of them had no other means of income besides that monthly payout. 

To get the project underway, Sekai had to finance it from her own pocket.

But she was faced with a stubborn first hurdle.

She was unemployed and had no means to fund her otherwise worthy cause.

She would however not allow this to kill her spirit of philanthropy.

"I am passionate about helping others and uplifting the community. It really breaks my heart when I see an elderly person suffering," Sekai told News24.

                        The elderly queuing for soup (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

"I started the project when I noticed the elderly waiting in the cold and several others coming to my house to ask for food. That's when I realised that I needed to help them."

The Sassa pay point is stationed just metres away from her house. 

The bubbly mother of two said after initially feeding dozens of elderly people on her own, four other people volunteered to be part of the project.

Today the group serves warm meals, to more than a 100 grant recipients, once a month, when they come to receive their social support funding from the state agency.

"Sassa officers arrive at around 08:00 but the grant recipients arrive as early as 05:00 in order to stand in the queues. But sometimes you find that they are hungry – so now whenever they come to collect grants they also bring empty cups for soup," she said. 

Sekai said instead of entirely depending on well wishers to support their project, they are growing vegetables for making the soup and other meals at a nearby school. 

She said they also sell the vegetables in order to sustain the project.

"I asked a principal at a nearby school not far from where I stay to give us a garden so that we can plant vegetables, so our soup is made from veggies we plant ourselves. 

"We also have locals who provide us with vegetables."

Pinky Sekai with some volunteers handing out soup to the elderly. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

She smiles as she explains how she believes her passion for assisting her community has given her meaning to life.

"It gives me absolute joy to see someone smile just because of my act of kindness and their smiles make it worthwhile when we serve them food.

"They become overjoyed. I remember there was a month I didn’t serve them and I heard people in the community saying we had disappointed them a lot."

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