How women feed hundreds of families daily in Grahamstown, South Africa

Posted June 27, 2020 from South Africa
Women feeds hundreds daily in Covid-hit Grahamstown, South Africa
Without these women, an entire community would starve.


I must admit that I had a moment of sheer terror when it dawned on me what I had just agreed to and there were moments where I held my phone, ready to call Tim Bulls to make some excuse as to why I had to back out. It was not because I didn’t want to help, it was because of where I had to go.

The reason for fear isn’t obvious when you walk the streets of Grahamstown. Don’t get me wrong, the overall atmosphere out there is ominous and oppressive and the fact that the streets are empty adds to that fear because it’s real, it’s happening but worst of all, it’s here and it has started making us sick. I think the worst part, well, at least for me, is the waiting. We all know we will be infected with Covid 19, there is no escaping it. You can’t run, you can’t hide, and you spend a fair amount of time weighing up your odds of surviving and try to make plans for a very shaky future while you wash your hands for the 6 millionth time in 3 hours. You wonder about your family and friends and try to make sense of the fact that you may never see some of them again. It is a very strange place to be in. It’s almost like swimming in the middle of the ocean knowing that there’s a shark out there that wants to kill you and those you love.

I could tell that her smile was real because I could hear it in her voice and her eyes danced a little while she showed me her home. Everything she said sounded positive even when she told me about the circumstances her friends and neighbours were living in while her two boys carried the supplies from Tim Bull’s car. I could tell from the way she rested against the door frame that she’d been busy for a while. It was only 9am.

Lindiswa Witpens has been running her soup kitchen for a while now and she says that she worries about the elderly who must travel quite a distance to get food. She and a few other community members work together to make sure that food is taken to those who can’t walk or are too sick to walk and the worrying thing is that the rows of people just get bigger and bigger every day and she only has so much food to give.

We spoke at length about the challenges that she is facing, along with all the other SAINTS who are giving everything they’ve got to make sure that no one goes to bed hungry.

Before I left, I asked one last question.

“Why are you doing this?”

I could see that she was giving this considerable thought. She took a deep breath, looked me square in the eyes and said,

“Because someone has to”



From what I have seen, most of these kitchens feed between 100 and 180 people per day. The meal consists of a hearty helping of samp and beans with some form of nutritious broth with one or two vegetables on the side. The samp and beans, when combined, form a whole protein that is easily absorbed, and the broth pretty much takes care of the rest. Every now and then they hand out a quarter orange to boost the vitamin C levels.

I must admit that, given the circumstances, the way they manage to get so many people to observe the social distancing rules, was impressive. NO MASK NO FOOD is absolute law.

Everyone calmly and patiently waits their turn, each bringing their own container.

Most kitchens operate between 3 to 5 days a week and I am told that some people don’t get to eat when the kitchens are closed.

All the food and a lot of the cooking equipment come from donations.

I am told that there are plans in place to start sustainable gardens in the near future using the Permaculture method which, having seen the method work myself, will go a long way to alleviate food shortages but that’s still a long way off and they have people to feed.


Copied from this new Facebook group:

Grahamstown Covid 19 Community Kitchens

For more information on how to assist with donations of food, money or time, call or Whatsapp Tim Bull Grahamstown, Covid-19 Community Kitchens, at (27) 76 289 5122.

This story was submitted in response to Dispatches from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Comments 11

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Jun 27
Jun 27

Welcome to worldpluse ,
Congratulations on your first story , Thank you for sharing.
Please stay . Love always Chi .

Jun 27
Jun 27

Helo :) DDZ ZA. Welcome to World Pulse.

Why are you doing this? Because someone has to...... a simple question with a powerful answer. Yes, we need to do something, for humanity. A small act of kindness can make a difference. Thank you for sharing how GRAHAMSTOWN'S COMMUNITY KITCHENS are doing in their community.

Your story is your power. Become a woman of Passion. Be an encourager to be encouraged.

Hello, DDZ ZA,

Welcome to World Pulse! What a joy to know a new voice from South Africa is rising up!

Wow! Thank you for featuring Lindiswa Witpens and The Grahamstown Community. That's truly impressive considering the number of people they feed each day and how they manage to practice safety rules.

"Why are you doing this?"
"Someone needs to." - What a powerful reply. Cheers to the sheroes and heroes behind this initiative. Keep up the important work!

Please write more! We love to know more about you, what you do, and what you deeply care about.

Welcome again to our growing sisterhood!

Nana Amponsah
Jun 30
Jun 30

“Because someone has to” . I love the response. Thanks for sharing.

Jul 11
Jul 11

Hello DDZ ZA,
So true, we all need to do something for humanity. Your response is powerful. Thanks for sharing.

Jul 21
Jul 21

Because someone has to.

This reminded me of a story I read in Facebook. A conversation between a devout scholar (D) and his student (S) :-
S: Is everyone made by God useful?
D: yes
S: even the atheist?
D: yes
S: give one example how
D: when someone approach an athiest, they don't give a prayer and wish them well. They do their best to help that person because they believe god won't help. So when a person ask for your help, try to act like an athiest and help them instead of waiting for someone else to do so.

I don't know how true that story is, but the lesson behind it is what I try to live by. Why help others? Because someone has to.

Jul 21
Jul 21

Thank you for your story, Nab. I don't know much about atheists, but I do know love when I am around it. "Because someone has to" says more about simple human love than the theist/atheist rants ever did. When I am around the women in the Grahamstown story, nobody talks about religion. They talk about what we have to do because if we don't, things will be a lot worse for everybody. Cheers from S Africa, =Dana

Laetitia Shindano
Aug 03
Aug 03

Chere DDZ ZA

Merci de nous partager les interventions généreuses et courageuses de femmes en cette période de Covid-19. Puisse ces exemples etre imités par d'autres personnes .


esther atosha
Aug 03
Aug 03

thanks for sharing

Doctor Vie
Aug 07
Aug 07

Dear DDZ in ZA, thank you for sharing....

South Africa is in dire straits, leading our African continent in the number of COVID-19 much needs to be done...but only when our people are fed.

Lindiswa's soup kitchen is a soulful humanitarian effort because as she so beautifully replied "Because someone has to."

I'm helping with health and safety training protocols for our people during these trying times..and in general providing skills training and wholesome jobs in agriculture.

Please feel free to spread the word so anyone who wants to join may do South Africa and Central Eastern Africa where our teams are.


Aug 08
Aug 08

Well DDZ this is really an amazing work they are doing in Grahamstown. Exactly someone has to do this work. It really takes a lot of energy and guts to keep doing it. Please stay safe