Local Heroes 2022: Couple brings blessings of the soil to Qonce’s hungry
When it rains on the hillside near Qonce, youll find dozens of children and elders huddled in the home Andile and Maude Faniso, with a hot meal in hand in the peach brick building.
A painted white sign is placed at the entrance to their NPO, the Ethembeni Community Development Project NPO Soup Kitchen where the former miner Andile and former domestic worker Faniso feed their community.
Maude, 45, said: “We run the project on our own, when it rains we put the kids in our home as there is no shelter.”
“We don’t feast on a healthy dinner while neighbours and their children go to bed on empty stomachs,” said Andile, 50, who is also an under-deacon in the Old Apostolic Church of Southern Africa.
The couple and their three daughters started to grow a garden bursting with cabbage, spinach and pumpkins and began freely distributing their home-grown produce to the community of Ethembeni village, Qonce.
Andile said: “Our project started small in 2013 but in 2016 we really expanded.
“We saw how the kids were playing in the streets with no food.
What makes me sad is seeing the kids in our community turning to crime and drugs because of poverty, I would like to see them turn away from that.
“I come from the mines, and when I got back home and saw the situation, that the children are hungry and their fathers have no work, I sat down with my wife and we decided to start a project of feeding children.”
Now over 30 families are provided with fresh vegetables including pensioners, the disabled as well as orphaned youth as part of their Christian mission.
Large black potjie pots cooking on wood fires are filled with rice, meat and cabbage and dished out daily for 160 children and 40 pensioners.
Maude said: “In 2016, I was taking the little my husband had to start the project with and to buy what we needed to start the vegetable gardens.
“What makes me sad is seeing the kids in our community turning to crime and drugs because of poverty, I would like to see them turn away from that.”
Andile explained that the community had quickly supported the project by joining them in maintaining the garden.
He said: “What inspires me is that the community is driving the project and the school principal and school is also involved which helps.”
The 7ha of land run by the NPO is harvested solely to feed its people and does not make a profit.
My vision is to see the project expand to other communities in our area because many people come from far to visit the soup kitchen.
The Christian couple uses any spare time they have to help the mentally or physically disabled through domestic assistance, helping with laundry, cooking or feeding animals.
“We help children go to schools, help those who want to get identity documents, social grants or medical examinations by hooking them up with officials from relevant department officials,” Maude said.
The project is not only about sharing vegetables, it’s more than that.
In the village, there are some destitute families and elderly and or disabled people, some staying alone with young children.”
Andile, who is also a qualified sports coach, volunteers his time to teach soccer and rugby at four Ethembeni primary schools — Matthew Goniwe, Nxawe and Dukumbane — as well as Mure Primary School in Mbaxa village.
“I have a Level One qualification in coaching rugby, Level 2 risk assessment and Boksmart qualifications,” he explained.
Maude said she hoped to see her vision for the NPO come true and flourish in the near future.
“My vision is to see the project expand to other communities in our area because many people come from far to visit the soup kitchen.”
Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.