My heart did a happy dance this week! Durban has finally caught up with the rest of the country and launched a Social Responsibility initiative that is ‘home grown’. Food 4 Thought, the brain wave of Jess Meredith-Watts, will see Durban’s top restaurants participating in the generating of both funds and awareness for the plight of our street children. The recipient of these funds, Umthombo, is a Durban based organization that empowers street children to be able to leave street life and take their place in our community as productive and proud citizens.
How it works...
Each participating restaurant will provide their customers with the opportunity to support the project by adding a 1% charge to the bill. The charge is added automatically by the restaurant’s POS system after the total and before the tip. The project gives the customer a discrete ‘opt-out’ of paying the 1%. Customers who ‘opt-in’ have the option to receive a range of additional benefits such as a monthly newsletter and access to a range of ‘foodie’ related topics and special offers as well as playing an active and crucial role in the valuable work being done by Umthombo. Check out their website www.food4thoughtkzn.co.za to read about their work.
In addition, the staff of the participating restaurants is encouraged to get actively involved in the work of Umthombo, in order to truly appreciate the value of the project and the impact it is making on the lives of these young people.
During the launch I sat next to and chatted with Hlengiwe, a young girl of 18 years who had spent most of her life on the streets of Durban. Hlengiwe received counseling from and boarded for three years at Safe-Space at Umthombo. After showing an interest in learning a skill in the restaurant business she was taken in as an intern at Ciao Bella Café where, after training, she is now one of the full time kitchen staff. Hlengiwe is full of vitality, hope and pride for she is now renting her own accommodation and is financially independent. What a joy it was to chat about our mutual love for pasta! There are many success stories at Umthombo and I found their ethos both professional and encouraging.
I was deeply humbled and very impressed by the work that Umthombo are doing and delighted to learn that all monies raised by Food 4 Thought will go directly to this worthy organization and their rehabilitation initiatives. Almost 20 of Durban’s Top Restaurants have ‘stepped up to the plate’ and joined and it’s anticipated that approximately R1 000 000, 00 will be raised per year. This will go a long way to providing the necessary services needed to get these youngsters off the streets and back into society.
A person never stands as tall as when they kneel to help a child.