Like many South Africans, Tankiso Moremi lost his job during the 2020 lockdown. Before the coronavirus crisis, he worked in the administration department at Eldorado Park Secondary School in Eldorado, Gauteng.
But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, he believes. Or in his case, soup. Tankiso used his experience with children to give back to the community.
He now feeds more than 200 kids daily in the informal settlement of Pimville Zone 9, in Soweto. Recently, the non-profit organisation he heads also donated 700 pairs of school shoes to needy children.
The 26-year-old tells YOU how he turned his misfortune around and inspired his community.
When schools were closed due to the hard lockdown, many kids in my community went hungry because they depended on the school-feeding schemes.
I knew that many parents, like myself, had lost their jobs.
Though I did some odd jobs to support my five-year-old daughter, for weeks all I thought about were the hungry kids in our area. It kept me awake at night.
I reached out to a few of my friends, who were also unemployed, and told them about my idea of starting a weekly soup kitchen. It didn’t matter how many kids we would reach, five or six would be enough.
This is how our Kasi Hero Foundation started.
We were surprised when more than 50 kids pitched up on our first day. It was more than what we had anticipated but it also showed us how severe the situation was for people in our community.
That’s when I turned to social media to ask for donations. It was difficult at first but I persevered because I hated turning the kids away when we didn’t have enough food.
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As my social-media presence grew, I started getting more and more support from people and businesses. It showed me the goodness in people and that people wanted to help.
Whenever I came across a child without school shoes, I’d ask for donations on social media.
And when people responded to my call, I would buy the shoes, give them to the child and post it on social media to let people know that their donations were not going to waste.
It wasn't long before young people in my community asked if they could join our soup kitchen. Our team quickly grew to 12 volunteers.
More hands meant more work so we could now serve meals three days a week. The number of children we were serving also increased. Every day it’s a different number, sometimes it’s around 200 and on other days we have up to 400 mouths to feed.
We serve them in small groups to comply with government’s Covid-19 regulations.
Meals were cooked and kids received their meals#dailysoupkitchen#kasiherofdtn pic.twitter.com/j49L1iOdKf— Kasi_hero?? (@tankiso_matanka) January 24, 2022
By the end of December 2021 we had built our own centre with the help of the community and donations from my 5 000 social-media followers. The centre also serves as a daycare where parents can bring their kids to be looked after for free.
Although we were getting donations from various organisations and people, we still didn’t have a dedicated sponsor so everything we did largely depended on how many donations we had collected.
Earlier this year we were blown away when we received R120 000 from the Collen Mashawana Foundation. This allowed us to start compensating the volunteers who give up their time to help.
It also meant we no longer panicked when we saw 400 kids queuing because we knew that we could feed all of them.
This year, we also raised enough money to purchase 700 school shoes for learners in eight schools around Gauteng and Limpopo. For me, it was a great achievement because I’ve been in that situation.
I know what a difference it makes to a child to have a decent pair of school shoes. I hope my story inspires people to do a little good wherever they can.
You don’t need to be rich to help your community, you just have to have a willing heart.