Feeding scheme nourishes hopes
When five-year-old Lefa Maleka's mother became ill last year he was left in his grandmother's care in the impoverished Alexandra township, near Sandton, northern Johannesburg.
Without a child grant, the elderly woman could not feed him so she turned to her "neighbours" - the African Community Education and Feeding Scheme - for help.
The non-profit organisation, funded by corporate donors, has 13 feeding centres in South Africa providing meals to nearly 31000 children a day, according to programme director Phindile Halele.
Yesterday, on World Hunger Day, the feeding scheme delivered bowls of soup and bread.
It reached more than 4000 children in Soweto's Dobsonville, Green Village and Meadowlands.
"We made this special delivery to make the community aware that there are people who go without food.
"Lack of food affects a child's ability to focus in school and leads to malnutrition, disease and vulnerability to substance abuse," Halele said.
One in five children is severely malnourished and one in three experiences hunger, according to a UNICEF report released this month.
In addition to mobile feeding stations, the feeding scheme has permanent outlets in the communities it serves.
After school, children walk to the site to collect peanut butter sandwiches and glasses of milk.
Younger children - ranging from two to six - spend their days at the centres, where they are fed three meals and one snack a day.
At the Alexandra site, 50 toddlers are fed and monitored daily.
With the help and encouragement of the feeding scheme, Lefa - whose favourite food is a burger, and who loves watching the Kaizer Chiefs soccer team in action - dreams about becoming a policeman so that he "can help people".
TWITTER USERS PLEDGE TO FAST FOR A DAY:
WHILE the ACEFS ran special feeding programmes, other organisations and individuals in South Africa and the rest of the world also recognised World Hunger Day, an initiative started by the UK's The Hunger Project.
Yesterday, Twitter users pledged to fast for the day. They also tweeted promises to buy lunch for someone in need and deliver food to shelters.
UK organisation FoodBank SA challenged people to fast in the initiative "Fast to Feed".
Participants in London were encouraged to fast, collect 12 sponsors and raise R784 each to donate to the organisation - enough to help FoodBank SA feed one person for a year. - Roshan Nebhrajani