Date published: 06 Dec
Africa Food for Thought (AFFT) is an NGO that helps to provide food security to more than 17 0000 children in Soweto and to the west of Johannesburg through schools, informal crèches and family food parcels. With support from donors including Add Hope, KFC’s national feeding initiative supported by customer donations and CSI funds, AFFT provides the essential nutrition that children need to enable them to concentrate and study well.
AFFT director Claire Rosewarne started working for Africa Food for Thought seven years ago, initially as a volunteer taking food parcels out to communities and then in an administrative role, putting her corporate experience to good use. Add Hope has walked the journey with Africa Food for Thought for five years now, and is right behind Claire and her mission to expand and address the incredible need out there. Besides the annual funding AFFT receives, Add Hope recently held a Quiz Night at MonteCasino and AFTT received just under R250,000 raised on the night.
Claire tells us about her passion for the NGO and the work that they are doing day by day to turn young lives around and create a better future for the children of Soweto.
It all started when SA hosted the World Cup. I attended an event at local church to watch a match and food was handed out to children. I saw the need, and knew immediately that I wanted to become involved. I started by looking after families, volunteering and taking food parcels to them seven years ago. An administrative position opened up in the AFFT office. I had always wanted to work in the NGO sector – it just became a reality a lot quicker than we expected!
How did AFFT start and how many children do you reach?
AFFT started small in 2006 with 50 children being fed at one site – and has grown organically. All our projects are in the South Western Soweto, Muldersdrift and now Magaliesburg areas – areas where there is deep need. We support 14 schools, of which 2 are high schools and 8 are primary. Food supports education and good nutrition is a key factor in creating a brighter future for these children, which is why we work very closely with the schools.
We also support 25 informal crèches. Early Childhood Development is so critical and we help caring teachers running small centres in their communities, with from 10 to 110 children.
AFFT volunteers distribute food parcels to families identified through the schools we work with and we currently support 125 families. Many are child-headed families where the older siblings as young as 16 are responsible for their younger siblings. We also support many gogos struggling to take care of their orphaned or abandoned grandchildren, and families taking in extended family. We look for the most marginalised and focus on extenuating circumstances. We would like to increase this to supporting 30 crèches over the next 12 months and grow to feeding 200 families over the next 18 months. We now support over 17 000 children in total.
How long have your received funding from Add Hope?
2017 is our fifth year with Add Hope. Add Hope is our biggest feeding sponsor and we’re very grateful for that. It has been wonderful to be part of the journey as Add Hope has grown. The grants have enabled us to do so much more in these communities.
Tell us about your personal situation, and how you balance it all?
I live in Weltevreden Park in the West Rand. I am married and have two young children of 12 and 9. As a mother, wife and working woman – I strive to find that place where I can give to my family and also find significance and give through the work I do. I’m fortunate that my personal circumstances allow me to have this job as a volunteer and I am proud that my children are being taught a social conscience in a personal way.
What inspires you in your daily work for AFFT?
The journey for me is taking a family from a desperate situation to the point where someone is employed, the children start blossoming and the family becomes sustainable. We can then celebrate a family’s success and say goodbye.
It’s very inspiring to see the crèche mamas working so hard with limited resources to guide the children in their care to become as school ready as they possibly can be so they don’t start on the back foot. These teachers are community leaders and we try to upskill them as they’re playing a significant role in community.
How can people get involved and make a difference?
Wherever you are, you can donate to Add Hope and know that the money does get to where it needs to go. As a first step, you can make contact with AFFT – we’re happy to show people what we’re about and take them out to our sites. People can become Team Leaders and take food parcels out, making a regular commitment to AFFT. Once a month our volunteers take food parcels to 4-5 families and establish a relationship with them.
What do you think would make South Africa a better place for children?
There is so much need that people can easily become overwhelmed – feeling that what you have to offer won’t make a difference. We need to put that aside, if each one only helps one child, that still snowballs into a bigger change. Each person has something to give in a different way.