Big-hearted 10-year-old goes extra mile for the homeless

What started out as a Friday after-school treat quickly turned into an initiative to help the homeless for 10-year-old Luthando Matiwane, who felt the urge to better street dwellers’ lives at Eastern Beach.

With the help of his school, Advance for Life Christian Academy, the initiative brought in several clothing and food donations which was distributed at a soup kitchen on Saturday at City Life Church in Quigney, East London.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: After feeling sad when he saw homeless people roaming around at Eastern Beach, 10-year-old Luthando Matiwane decided to help them by serving them soup and bread and something warm to wear during the approaching cold months. Tracey Halgreen and Mark Muller are regular helpers at City Life Church’s Saturday soup kitchen Picture: ATHENA O’REILLY

Luthando’s mother, Penelope Matiwane, 57, of Mdantsane, would often take him and his eight-year-old cousin for an ice cream or lunch at the beachfront, but did not realise the lasting effects seeing people homeless digging in trash bins for food would have on her big-hearted son.

In fact, the energetic Grade 3 pupil often had nightmares about it until he finally approached the principal of the school about helping the homeless.

“They were looking for food in bins and that made me uncomfortable.

“Every time we went down to the beach, I felt like I wanted to cry when I saw them but I kept it in and when I got home, I would let it all out.

“I wanted to give them jobs so they could have a better life, but my principal suggested we collect food and clothing for them,” Luthando said.

He approached the school thinking that they would have a wider network to help on a greater scale.

“At first I only told the school because I thought they would be able to help a lot more than my parents could and I feel good that I shared how I was feeling because now they can benefit from it.

“This is what I want to do when I grow up. I want to start my own foundation and continue helping these people. I am going to call it Luthando’s Foundation and it is going to be awesome.”

Matiwane said she was “shocked and surprised” when the school called her and her husband in to discuss Luthando’s vision.

“I didn’t know he felt this way towards the homeless.

“When we went to the beach, he never expressed how he felt when he saw the homeless people roaming around but we noticed he has had sleepless nights.

“We never spoke about the homeless before he approached the school and he received a great response to help out,” Matiwane said.

Described as a “free child” by his father, Sebenzile Matiwane, 57, said while it was never a focal point of their parenting, he was proud of his son.

“God came through him to do what he is doing now and we can only thank God for that,” Sebenzile said.

Inspired by Luthando’s eagerness to help out, Advance for Life Christian Academy principal Esther Wallis said when he left the office, he had all the staff members in tears.

“This is such an amazing thing Luthando is doing and he is the first child to come out of his own to raise funds for the poor.

“We definitely encourage this at school and teach our children about empathy and appreciating what you have,” Wallis said.

She added they decided to join up with an already existing initiative as it was easier. The soup kitchen at City Life Church had been running for the past 10 years and feeds the homeless community in the area every Saturday.

“This means greatness is coming their way because I will continue helping them and I am excited about it,” a gleeful Luthando promised.

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