Maverick Citizen

Food Justice


Centre at the heart of Inchanga in KZN helps 550 elderly residents with clothing, blankets and food baskets

Centre at the heart of Inchanga in KZN helps 550 elderly residents with clothing, blankets and food baskets
A market was set up at the heart of Inchanga village in KwaZulu-Natal providing the most needy with winter clothes, duvets, blankets, shoes and food. (Photo: Tilanie Grote)

Good cheer reigned as workers at the 1000 Hills Community Helpers centre set up a ‘mahala market’ on Mandela Day for the elderly to take clothing and food. A sign of the country’s difficult times, more residents attended than in previous years.

The 1000 Hills Community Helpers centre has played a key role in Inchanga, a village between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, for more than a decade. Over and above the work it does daily to assist the local community and surrounding areas, it has become a conduit for other nonprofit organisations, donors and good Samaritans who want to aid the vulnerable.

This week, to mark Mandela Day, the nonprofit organisation partnered with the Robin Hood Foundation and multiple donors to host a day for the elderly who head households, but are often neglected as their children go out to look for economic opportunities.

inchanga 1000 hills

Elderly and retired women go through goods made available by private donations from the wider Durban community and corporate sponsors. (Photo: Tilanie Grote)

Gogo Zonzani Ndlovu (81) said she was happy to be at the event.

“I am going to cook the spinach when I get home because there is nothing to eat [with] pap in the house. I also took a warm duvet and some jackets. I like that they just said, ‘Take what you need at home’. So I took more of the vegetables than clothes,” Ndlovu said.

The 1000 Hills Community Helpers centre is always a hive of activity as it operates as a health and wellness clinic, children’s infirmary, feeding scheme and an education and skills development facility. As well as aiming to alleviate poverty, it offers services that some people might struggle to access, such as applying for identity documents.

Dawn “Maduma” Leppan is the visionary behind the centre, which has created a family atmosphere with people who want to help the best they can. The centre is also called “Ikhaya Lo Thando”, which means home of love.

inchanga 1000 hills

More than 500 needy locals were assisted with clothes and food during the month of Mandela. (Photo: Tilanie Grote)

Gogo Fakazile Bhengu (73) said she had been assisted many times by the centre but noted that more people seemed to be falling on hard times and visiting for help.

“I was here the year before last and it was never this full, so many more people were here this time. When I was told to come, I said I have to go even though I live far away.

“We had breakfast and walked around to see what we needed. This is a great help, especially the clothes and duvets. We got food so we can go home with some vegetables. This is a great help because where else would you get these things?” Bhengu said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Tears and songs of joy after Gift of the Givers gifts Nelson Mandela Bay care centre with wheelchairs

Charlotte Edgar, project coordinator at the Robin Hood Foundation, said the need in communities is often bigger than the organisations anticipate, but donors and volunteers enable them to make a difference.

“We went in with the hope to help 300 gogos and mkhulus with clothing, blankets, linen, shoes, homeware, a 5kg maize and a vegetable basket. But we ended the day helping in the region of 550.

inchanga 1000 hills

The 1000 Hills Community Helpers centre was opened to a community grateful for the clothes and duvets given out on the day. (Photo: Tilanie Grote)

“It was also significant because the need, poverty and hunger in our country at the moment is heartbreaking and to have received the amount of donations from ordinary people in Durban and then to be able to go out and help so many yesterday, in just a small way, was truly humbling,” Edgar said.

“It’s also significant because all the work we do is done by our volunteers – most of which are retired ladies and gents. Without their time, love and kindness, all of this would not be possible. We love them and value them so much, they are our family.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: On Mandela Day, residents of Missionvale ask for business and work rather than donations

Robin Hood coordinated the project and brought a number of corporate donors on board.

Regarding Mandela Day, Edgar said it was important to celebrate the late former president’s “unbelievable life and to continue with the legacy he started, create a call to action for people of Durban to recognise their power and how they can help the community around them”.

“Their small actions can bring such positive change, and most importantly we need to continue his work of fighting injustice and helping people in need.”

Beyond Mandela Day, Robin Hood will continue hosting events, including donation drives, and try to meet people’s needs in and around Durban for the rest of July. DM


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