After realising the plight of underprivileged children in her community, Donae Carelse Goosen from Parkridge started a lunch-box drive for pupils who come from the poorest families.
Goosen, who is well-known in the Parkside community for a number upliftment projects she has conducted, said she started the lunch-box drive after hearing about her neighbour, who has been unemployed for six months, complaining about not having money to buy lunch for her kids. As a mother and teacher at a daycare centre, Goosen said she could identify with her neighbour and understood how difficult it was to be unemployed and have no means to provide for your kids.
“Parkside is known for criminal activity and poverty, and it is so important for me to give back in any way possible. I work with children daily from all kinds of backgrounds and it has not only taught me to be grateful for the little I have, but to also share what I have with others.
“So many children go to school on an empty stomach and are expected to concentrate at school, some come from really poor families and depend on only one meal a day,” she said.
With a donation of lunch-boxes from Lizl Slater and Marion Pretorious, who donated bread, rolls and spreads, Goosen packs over 20 lunch-boxes every night.
The lunch-boxes are then handed out by her mother, Dorothy Goosen, to the pupils before they go to school each morning.
Goosen said she made sandwiches and packed fruit and juice for the pupils, and sometimes snacks if there were any available.
“The kids pick up their lunch at my house every morning before they go to school and then bring back the lunch tins after school everyday,” she said.
Most of the kids are from Parkside Primary School, which Goosen says no longer offers a feeding scheme since it was broken into and vandalised recently.
She said some of the other kids told her that they did not eat at the feeding schemes at their schools because they were teased by their fellow pupils.
“I asked the kids to eat at the feeding schemes at their school but they told me that other pupils made fun of them and called them names.”
Goosen said her new goal was not only to provide lunch-boxes for the children but also porridge in the morning.
Apart from the lunch-box drive, Goosen runs a youth support group for teenagers in her community and a regular soup kitchen on weekends.
She also collects food parcels and clothing for the needy under her NGO, Norman Goosen Memorial.
A community member and parent, Fazel Pent, commended Goosen for the wonderful work she was doing.
Pent, who is unemployed and looks after her grandchild, said she was struggling to make ends meet and the lunch-box drive had really helped her.
“Donae is always doing good work in this community.
“My grandchild also benefits from the lunch drive and without Donae, I really don’t know what I would do,” she said. — firstname.lastname@example.org