Hungry kids go for 3 months without food

DESPERATE: Mabeka Community Care Centre members, from left, Malombo Buthelezi, Izah Thabethe and Thembi Masondo, have called on the government to help their poor community. Below: The dilapidated building that serves as a crèche for the poor community. Pic. THULI DLAMINI. 04/10/2009. © Sowetan.
DESPERATE: Mabeka Community Care Centre members, from left, Malombo Buthelezi, Izah Thabethe and Thembi Masondo, have called on the government to help their poor community. Below: The dilapidated building that serves as a crèche for the poor community. Pic. THULI DLAMINI. 04/10/2009. © Sowetan.

POVERTY levels at the rural Nsukazi area outside KwaCeza on the outskirts of Ulundi are dire, yet a food distribution programme is being cut back.

The programme allows one group of children to eat for three months and the next group to eat for the following three months .

Community workers say the rotation system is an instruction from the provincial social development department.

"What happens in between is unimaginable," says chairperson of Mabeka Community Care Centre Malombo Buthelezi.

Initially, 150 children were fed, but that number has dropped to just over 60.

Buthelezi says the situation is "heartbreaking".

He says high school students are fed at 7am and primary school pupils at 10am on weekdays.

On weekends, the children have to fend for themselves

"We take in orphans or children from the poorest families. To select qualifying children is painful because the majority of people are unemployed and poor, but we have no choice."

He says most children are from child-headed families and HIV-Aids orphans. He says they also distribute food parcels to 35 homesteads, which is "just a drop in the ocean".

"To distribute food parcels to only 35 families in four areas is a disgrace, but our hands are tied because the social development department can only give that much," he says.

Centre member Thembi Masondo says there are many other challenges.

"The building we are using as a crèche is in shambles. The roof is leaking and collapsing, and there are no toilets or electricity."

Social development spokesperson Mandla Ngema says the matter will be investigated urgently.

"We have established that the centre is the responsibility of the department of health.

"The centre has no permanent beneficiaries and is used by people waiting for foster care or child support grants to be processed, which is why children are fed for only three months.

"But this matter will be investigated," Ngema says.

X