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Five-year-old turns birthday into feast for hungry

  • CommunitySAHarvest
Nineteen million South Africans go to bed hungry every day in South Africa, an unimaginable statistic, especially as we move into the heart of winter when extreme cold exacerbates the suffering of the food-vulnerable. Yet, from the depths of the gloom, there are many uplifting stories of people making a difference.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Jul 23, 2020

One of these is five-year-old Ariella Janks who, quite spontaneously, asked that instead of her friends giving her and her brother, Rafa – whose birthdays are two days apart – presents for their birthdays, they should bring parcels of food that they could donate to children less fortunate than themselves. The response was outstanding.

No doubt, the idea came to her through the work of her granny, Ahrlene Yudelowitz, during lockdown with food-rescue organisation SA Harvest. Yudelowitz has organised the collection of the equivalent of hundreds of meals in the Glenhazel area for this organisation.

“We have delivered more than 1.7 million meals in the lockdown period to beneficiaries who feed people on a daily basis,” says Alan Browde, the chief executive of SA Harvest. “I’ve seen so many acts of kindness in this business, and none more moving than Ariella’s. Her selflessness is most unusual, especially in light of the fact that she sacrificed all those wonderful birthday presents that a typical five-year-old dreams of to make a difference to others. It’s humbling and inspiring.”

SA Harvest most recently collaborated with not-for-profit organisation Chefs With Compassion on Mandela Day, 18 July, to cook 77 455 litres of soup, smashing the organisation’s target of 67 000 litres of soup, and translating into 309 820 cups of soup fed to the hungry all over the country.

In 10 cities: Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Bloemfontein, Mokopane, Rustenburg, Vereeniging, Port Elizabeth, and Nelspruit, nutritious soup was cooked with compassion and care by about 300 chefs from restaurants, hotels, cooking schools, and catering operations.

Browde says the exercise was a magnificent tribute to the spirit of Madiba, especially his philosophy that one needs only to do something positive every day in service to others, not necessarily huge, to change the world. “The collaboration with Chefs with Compassion was a perfect example of the power of individual contribution becoming a substantial collective success,” he said.

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