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Hot chips the only meal for many children in Scenery Park

Rodney Parsons feeds more than 100 kids in Scenery park with his soup kitchen where he serves bread and hot chips, among other things.
Rodney Parsons feeds more than 100 kids in Scenery park with his soup kitchen where he serves bread and hot chips, among other things.
Image: MICHAEL PINYANA

For hundreds of children in Scenery Park, Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays are when they get a meal of fresh bread and hot chips provided by Local Hero nominee Rodney Parsons, 59, of Amalinda.

Parson uses his income from his small business Carlene’s Daycare to feed more than 500 children from the Good Food takeaway shop in a small blue container on Scenery Park Road. 

Parsons said: “These children have no food, nothing. I can’t sleep if I know children are hungry, and now some of these children can go to bed with their stomachs full.” 

The Dispatch visited the container on Tuesday to a bustle of about 30 children queuing while the food was being prepared. 

As the morning progressed, further groups of children joined the line in anticipation, sitting on small benches as the smell of cooking oil wafted in the air. 

Parsons spends R4,575 a week providing the chips and bread.

Sometimes we get donations of hot soup, and if there is anything left over it’s given to the Bless daycare or St John’s Church. I have a donation of soup and rolls to pick up for them today as well

“Sometimes we get donations of hot soup, and if there is anything left over it’s given to the Bless daycare or St John’s Church.

“I have a donation of soup and rolls to pick up for them today as well.” 

Parsons started the food scheme in 2017 and battled to keep going during the pandemic. 

“The police would chase me away during lockdown saying I had to stop feeding the children, but the community stood up for me.

“Madiba was my inspiration. He is the guy who taught me about hungry children. Sometimes I pay for party packs and birthday parties.

“Today this little girl came up to me and asked to get her hair done, which I paid for. This is my passion, to help children.”  

Volunteer and roadworker Yanga Mamba said she assisted Parsons in organising the children as they waited for their meal. 

“Most of the mothers here drink a lot, they have no food. At the weekends they go to the taverns and the children are left alone and hungry.

“Rodney feeds them here. This initiative also reduces rape, because if a child is hungry for food they knock on a neighbour’s door and men take advantage of them.”

I know the children in the area and tell Rodney if one of them needs anything extra or a bigger helping cause they haven’t eaten in a few days, and he does what he can

Mamba said the children affectionately call Parsons mlungu or “white person” in isiXhosa. 

She said: “I know the children in the area and tell Rodney if one of them needs anything extra or a bigger helping cause they haven’t eaten in a few days, and he does what he can.” 

Parent Phelokazi Dyabayi waited as her two-year-old daughter sat on a bench for her meal. 

“This helps a lot. Some children don’t get anything like hot chips because oil is so expensive.

“Some of these children don’t get love and he gives them some of the love they deserve.”

Nominator and daughter Jessica Parsons said Parsons hoped “to lift the spirit of the young children within the community” and had been involved in multiple charitable acts above and beyond the feeding scheme.

He believes that if you are able to help those who are less fortunate you should try

“My father collects unwanted clothes and other necessities from different places to provide for the less fortunate.

“He makes care packages for the needy that usually consist of non-perishables and things needed to make their lives a little easier.

“He believes that if you are able to help those who are less fortunate you should try, even if it is just an extra loaf of bread when you buy your groceries.

“Every little bit helps and my dad is trying his best to brighten up the little ones’ lives, even if it is just for a moment.”

DispatchLIVE


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