Caring woman brings smiles to needy of Makhanda

Nobesuthu Nkatazo supplies essentials, but also brightens up lives with her company

Local Hero nominee Nobesuthu Felicia Nkatazo, 45 from Makhanda helps feed and restore dignity to her community as a member of the Food4Futures NPO and driving force behind its Care4Community campaign which she started in 2023.
UNWAVERING SUPPORT: Local Hero nominee Nobesuthu Felicia Nkatazo, 45 from Makhanda helps feed and restore dignity to her community as a member of the Food4Futures NPO and driving force behind its Care4Community campaign which she started in 2023.

“She brings great light to all those she visits.” 

Local Hero nominee Nobesuthu Felicia Nkatazo, 45, from Makhanda, dreams of one day building a home for those she cares for. 

Nkatazo was one of the first people involved in Food4Futures — Ithemba Le Kamva, an NPO started by 2022 Daily Dispatch Local Hero “Mama” Mary Birt. 

Food4Futures (F4F) distributes monthly food parcels to 135 people, affecting the lives of about 800 men, women and children.

Every Tuesday, they use about 80 loaves of bread for peanut butter sandwiches and also assist with the procurement of ID documents, grants and organise donation drives for school stationery, blankets and household items. 

Nkatazo worked with Birt running a guest house for several years until Birt closed the business.

She then worked as a domestic worker until 2018 when her employers immigrated to the UK, the same year Birt contacted her to assist with F4F. 

She has since become one of the driving forces of the small team, and leads the Care4Community project under the F4F umbrella as well as managing the food parcel list, visiting the homes of beneficiaries and general management. 

An elderly woman with dementia approached Birt for a food parcel and she sent Ntakazo to visit the woman’s home to place her on the F4F parcel list in 2023.

This became the catalyst for Care4Community.

I knew there were a few people on our list who were disabled or in wheelchairs and struggled to fetch their food parcels,” Nkatazo said. 

Sometimes a family member would come, but not always. I started with four names and visited them every Thursday to try to accommodate their needs.”

She does weekly home visits and collects adult nappies, fruit or biscuits, donated items such as wool for knitting or playing cards, and drops off their monthly food parcel.

Every Thursday, she chats to them or reads to those who may be confined to their rooms with no company. 

The F4F Facebook page has shared the stories of beneficiaries, such as Nontuthuzelo Nkenkane, who was described as a “tiny lady who spends her days mostly on her own in her bedroom”. 

A post from 2023 read: “She is so welcoming when we arrive to visit her, and she tries her best to communicate with lots of smiles and handwaving, but we often struggle to understand what she says.

“She has suffered from epilepsy since she was a child, which affected her speech, her hand/arm control and general mobility.

“She also suffers from arthritis and can’t use her hands.

“She has nothing in her room to entertain or stimulate her but, despite many difficulties, she is a happy lady and we love to visit her.” 

Nkatazo supports her mother and 11-year-old daughter on the stipend she receives from the NPO. 

“My daughter says, ‘Mommy, I am so proud of you, you are a role model.’ Here I am living my childhood dream of helping others,” Nkatazo said.

“When I was younger, I wanted to become a social worker, but because of funding I wasn’t able to go to university.

“However, I’m still living that dream of helping people.

“Sometimes I feel like I am failing, in a way, because I know how bad their living conditions are.

“One day I hope to create a better place for them, but otherwise I’m very happy.” 

Nkatazo said that often those she helped lived without access to bathrooms, or were unable to leave their homes which were frequently dilapidated and freezing. 

“I wish I could offer a better home. One lady has a disability grant but is renting a place that is very cold, another man who also pays rent struggles because there are stairs outside and there is no bathroom.

“My main dream would be to offer better accommodation where we can take care of them. 

“But whenever I visit, there are smiles. Despite their suffering we chat, I spend time with them, ask how they are doing and their spirits are lifted.”

Birt, 74, founder of F4F, said: “Every week, Felicia visits and takes people whatever they need for their lives — nappies, bedding, toys, cards and knitting wool, but mainly it is the time that she spends with them that is the most valuable gift. 

“Felicia has always really wanted to go in the direction of social welfare, she draws on her instinctive approach to helping others and to help people who are ill and dying.

“This started with four family members who died within a short period.

“She looked after them and nursed them to the end. She helped their relatives deal with their dying, and helped with the matters like property. 

“All of this with no formal training, just her instinctive approach and desire to help other people.

“She searches for ways to help and if this is outside her field of reference she investigates ways to further help people through organisations, through departments — she does this all on a shoestring budget.

“She is a woman of great substance. She is kind, sensible and strong, she’s professional in her outlook, she doesn’t take shortcuts, she does everything well and with great wisdom.

“I think that makes her worthy of a Local Hero award.” 

  •  Food4Futures is now running a Mandela Day blanket drive aimed at collecting 200 blankets by July 18. For more information or to donate to the NPO go to or follow them on Facebook. 





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