Yolande Mentoor feeds an army of East London children, mostly from her own pocket

Compassionate Parkridge resident assists community in any way she can

Yolande Mentoor of NGO Making a Difference, which she runs in Parkridge.
READY TO HELP: Yolande Mentoor of NGO Making a Difference, which she runs in Parkridge.
Image: SUPPLIED

Realising the great need in her community after working with various schools, Parkridge resident Yolande Mentoor has been running a feeding scheme for the last ten years and is determined to continue helping and feeding hungry children in her community.

The 50-year-old mother of two said while she had only recently registered her organisation, Making a Difference (NGO), in 2020, helping children in her community had been a passion that God put in her heart.

“I started out with a small group of children when I started working at different schools and then it just grew.

“I studied to be a child and youth care worker and I volunteered for child protection services.

“I would do background checks and home visits for schools to find out why children weren’t going to school or had not been to class in a while,” explained Mentoor.

“You don’t always realise what is going on around you, but when you go into the community you realise how great the need is.

“Kids weren’t at school because there wasn’t anything to eat at home.”

Today, Mentoor provides food twice a week for more than 80 children in her community of Parkridge and also assists another 100 children in Windyridge flats in the Pefferville area.

“We give porridge in the morning and a meal after school.

“Whenever I hear there is a need I try to go to other areas as well,” said Mentoor, who grew up in Parkridge.

She said Making a Difference was mostly run out of her own pocket, with some donations from family and friends.

“We started with no sponsors and we still don’t really have sponsors but we do get some donations from the community that help  a lot.”

She said while her feeding scheme was a big part of her organisation, Making a Difference had grown over the years to help the community in any way possible.

From empowering abused women, to helping children with their reading and homework, donating clothes, helping Grade 12 pupils attend their matric farewells, assisting troubled teenagers and more, Mentoor turns no-one away.

“It’s more than a feeding scheme. I try to help wherever I can. I’ve seen many of the kids grow up and leave school over the years.

“I also try to visit the elderly and make sure they have enough food and clothes, but Covid-19 has limited that now.”

Mentoor said her team of cooks was made up of women she had assisted over the years.

“My team are wonderful and I am so proud of them.

“They have come such a long way and without them it would not be possible to do what I’m doing,” said Mentoor. 

Windyridge flats resident Hilda Prince said Mentoor was a huge help to the community.

“She gives so much. She often comes with bags of clothes and we distribute it to the kids and give them something warm to wear and she brings food and we cook two to three times a week for the kids in our area,” said Prince, who has been part of Mentoor’s Making a Difference cooking team for the past four years.

“I think she really has been sent by God.

“She’s a great help to our community; she does a lot for us.”

Mentoor said her yard was often full of children from the community and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She gives so much. She often comes with bags of clothes and we distribute it to the kids and give them something warm to wear and she brings food and we cook two to three times a week for the kids in our area.

“The thing that keeps me going is when the kids all come to my house.

“All day there are kids playing in my yard and they know they will get some food and some help if they need it.

“They know they can come to me and I will do my best to help,” said Mentoor.

“All praise must go to our God for blessing me with love.

“If He did not give me a heart of compassion then all this would have no meaning at all, all these years I have been doing it for the glory of God.

“That’s why we can make a difference in people’s, families and children’s lives.”

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