Southernwood woman’s home has become a beacon of hope

Sibongile Somi provides shelter, food and clothing for the needy

Sibongile Somi was touched by the plight of East London people and created an NPO to help.
PENING HER H EART: Sibongile Somi was touched by the plight of East London people and created an NPO to help.

Moved by the struggles of her community, a 52-year-old East London woman has opened her heart and home to provide shelter, food and clothing to the needy.

Sibongile Somi has established a nonprofit organisation and works from her home in Southernwood to restore the dignity of those in need in her community.

Every Monday, Friday and Sunday, the Daily Dispatch local hero nominee cooks nutritious meals for those struggling to find their next meal.

Somi’s kindness extends to providing clothing for those who cannot afford them and she supports others with funeral expenses to bury their loved ones.While her NPO, 2moro Leaders Project, was officially registered in 2020, she has been giving back to the community since 2015.

Nearly a hundred people have come to rely on the NPO.

Somi’s own home has been transformed into a safe haven for the needy, and she has also established a community garden to further support those in need.

“I didn’t do this kind of work because I wanted to be popular,” she said.

“In 2015, I used to look for people who gathered near Settlers Way, hoping for jobs.

“I would come with R400 and split it into R20s so it could be enough for everyone.

“I realised that with the R400, I could buy a few items to cook for them. So, I have been cooking all these years.”

Somi, who is a founder of the private school - 2Moros Leaders Primary School - said when Covid-19 hit the country, the NPO took strain.

However, she said they had been driven by God’s grace.

“With money from the private school, we would take care of the NPO’s needs.

She said that since Covid-19, things had been difficult for the NPO.

“Numbers of pupils registered [at the private school] dropped but we have been hanging on because of God’s mercy and love,” Somi said.

She said one of the best moments was witnessing drug addicts change their ways and witnessing young people’s hope being reignited in the process.

“The goodness of everything to me is witnessing the moment they leave this place, they leave our NPO healthy and glowing.

“Another reason that drives me is seeing young people change their ways.

“I have children who are now [drug-free] and are working,” she said.

She attributed the success of her work to “God’s grace”, saying some of the children who had been helped by her NPO were now at Buffalo City College studying to better themselves.

Somi said the NPO was a success because of people who had also opened their hearts to help her voluntarily.

“I have people who always avail themselves to come to help me cook.

“We do this work wholeheartedly, without complaining that some people are getting funding and we are not.

“This is a prayer to us, I am not saying we do not need donations, but our fuel comes from the fact we have been able to bring back the dignity of our people.

“God sent us to fulfil his vision and we do not feel like we are limited in any way.

“There are seasons where we feel like life is hard, but there is never a day we have never fed these people,” she said.

Nicole Bardwell, who works with Somi, said she was hands-on when it came to empowering the community.

“She cooks for people and even goes beyond that to help them with clothes, arrange funerals and other necessities.

“She does not discriminate, whether they are family or not.

“Our relationship is more like family, like a mother and daughter type of a relationship,” she said.




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