Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Operation Feed the Children:  The Sequel

For those of you that have followed my blog(and have an excellent memory), you may recall my post about a particular day in South Africa.  On that day I approached the building project manager, Deen and asked him what I could do to help the children.  He looked at me and said “If you really want to help them and make them happy, you must get them food”.  I listened to his advice, bought and prepared lunch for all the children at the building site.

The pure joy and happiness in the children’s faces while they were eating lunch is something that still resonates with me today.  For that reason, a few weeks ago I decided to make a donation to Deen to buy the children food.  The volunteers at the site prepared the food in a similar fashion and the results were the same.  The results are best explained by an excerpt from the Projects Abroad blog below:

“Less than a year ago I had been most fortunate to be associated with a remarkable volunteer Jonathan Verpent who again donated funds for food which would be distributed to the kids at the crèche on the building site. This had been the highlight of two weeks spent at the adventures of the building project. Receiving heart-warming smiles from the children in those three days spent giving out food and drinks was the most incredible feeling that reminded me of the true happenings in the heart of the building project.”

I wish I could have been there to deliver the food in person, but the the pictures below will have to do.  Special thanks to Deen and his son Vash for putting this together and executing my idea.

Volunteers preparing lunch

Volunteers preparing lunch

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Happy Children!

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As I have mentioned before dogs in Cape Town are treated a lot different than what I am used to in the US.  Deen has shared multiple stories about kids in the area that brought puppies/stray dogs into the bush for their fighting pitbulls to kill.  When we arrived on site, this poor little guy (pictured above) was shivering in the rain by himself.

Most of the volunteers are dog lovers like myself so we decided we had to do something.  Jomo(the Englishman) gave him his lunch and Steffi and Svena(the Germans) gave the dog extra food and attention.  They have become part time vets of sorts, taking care of a few dogs that hang around the site..including the dog pictured below.  We went to Deen and asked if we could do something.  He was a bit crossed as he has brought close to 40 dogs to the SPCA over the last 3 years, most of which had to be put down.  Either  way, they brought the dog to the SPCA and hopefully they can rehab him and find a good home!

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Other than that, we spent time mixing cement and then fixing the steps that lead to the playground.  The project is at the point where it is time to start making things “pretty”.  Luckily for the building, I am leaving tomorrow as that is not my strength.  I much rather prefer to “pick things up and put them down” such as filling wheelbarrows with sand and mixing cement.  One more day of work and time with the kids before it is time to go home 😦

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The Building Team!

The Building Volunteers!

As I have mentioned before, weather in Cape Town is quite unpredictable.  Rainy one minute, sunny the next.  However, today called for downpours all day so Deen scheduled a “team building” outing together.  We met at the train station and headed down to the Cape Town waterfront, which is about a half hour train ride away.  We spent some time walking around a mall laughing, and listening to Deen’s infamous stories.  He brought us to a food court type place that looked like it was in a back alley.  It had all kinds of ethnic food which looked delicious, albeit a bit scary.  After eating and enjoying each others company, we headed back home full and happy.

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Happy Children enjoying lunch

A few days ago while working, I had the idea that I wanted to do something more for the kids at the building site.  I approached Deen with a few ideas: get  kids a ball, crayons and paper..something to help them socialize and stimulate their mind.  Deen looked at me and said “If you really want to help them and make them happy, you must get them food”.  I trusted Deen’s word and decided to buy food for all the children

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Food Supplies

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Lots of Sandwiches!

Fast forward to today, I woke up early and headed to the grocery store with Deen.  I bought makings for about 50 sandwiches, a pack of 50 crackers, and  pack of 50  cookies.  We drove back to the job site and worked all morning: mixing cement and laying more of the foundation.   Mid morning, a few volunteers and I started made all the sandwiches. We brought them over to the kids along with a pack of crackers and pack of cookies for each.  After giving them the food, I have never seen them so quiet and content.   As always, Deen was right and the kids were happy!  The leftovers were given to the men and women who work at the daycare center to eat and distribute to others in the area.  Operation “Feed the Children” was a success!

Why half day Friday?  It is not because the volunteers want to leave early or because Deen wants to give us a break.  It is because the residents in the township tend to start partying a little early on Friday and it starts to become unsafe.  Even though the day was cut short, it was still a good productive day.

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Playtime!

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An everyday activity with most of the children. Love her smile in this picture!

The volunteers and I spent time plastering the wall we worked on yesterday.  In what is becoming a recurring theme, I also spent a lot of time with the children.  We played in the playground and I ran around like a big kid, playing games and making them laugh.

While we were at the site, a woman in her early 30’s  had a heart attack/stroke in her home next to the building site. (I later found out that she was the mother of one of the children at the site)  Deen, being the amazing man he is, jumped into action and rushed her to the hospital.  By the time he got her to the hospital she was unconscious and remains in critical condition. Unfortunately crazy things like this are more common than uncommon here.

After the day of work, all the building volunteers went to Deen’s house for dinner. His wife made an amazing meal and we laughed and had a great time.  His talented sons (Vash and Nash) provided the entertainment by singing, playing piano and the drums.  Also providing entertainment were 9 puppies.  Deen rescued a female dog from the building site and brought it home.  The dog met his Siberian Husky and one thing led to another…yadad yada yada… 9 puppies!

After being stuffed with food, we all sat around listening to Deen tell stories about former volunteers.  The love and joy in his face when talking about other volunteers can light up even the darkest streets.  He has been a mentor to the younger volunteers throughout the last 3 years, and even though it has been a week, he has taught me a lot and I feel like I have known him my whole life.

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Puppies!

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With my favorite puppy!

boystirringCulinary Explorers is an after school program for middle school children where they are taught basics of food preparation, focusing on fostering healthy eating habits.  The program runs from January-June, every Tuesday.  Throughout the year the students learn to cook and eat a wide variety of foods.  During the class I attended, the children prepped and cooked sesame chicken and roasted broccoli.  The students took turns mixing the sauce, cutting the broccoli, and glazing the chicken before placing the food in the oven.  Once the food was cooked, I was able to eat a piece of chicken and some broccoli.   It was quite tasty!

Most people that know me might be surprised that I helped with a cooking class.  I had little to no cooking knowledge until college.  After entering college, my cooking skills consisted of making “Easy Mac” and “Chef boyardee” in the microwave.  Since that time, my skills have evolved to cooking bland meats and vegetables.  Needless to say, I was very impressed with the children and the program in general.  Not only did they learn to cook, but they learned that  if prepared correctly, vegetables can be delicious(something I also didn’t learn until a few years ago 🙂 )!  It is a great program, one that I wish I participated in during middle school!

meals on wheelsFor my 16th deed, I signed up for “Prepping and Delivering food with City Meals-on-Wheels ” through New York Cares.  It is run by a local Senior Center in Brooklyn, where food is prepared and then delivered.   When I arrived, I was greeted by a wonderful woman named Stacy who gave me gloves, a hair net, and quickly put me to work.

There were about 8 other people that volunteered and worked alongside employees of the Senior Center.  I spent most of my time dishing out food into containers, which consisted of: salad, rice, tuna, and apple sauce.  Everything about the process was organized, well kept, and sanitary.

I then had the opportunity to walk around and deliver the meals to homes in the area.  Most of the people were elderly and had trouble preparing meals for themselves or even leaving the house.  The worker that  delivered meals with me explained that on a lot of occasions, we are the only people they see all day.  I made sure to smile, be friendly and do my best to brighten their day.

In total 258 meals, 269 cold packs, over 300 fruit cocktails and applesauce were prepped, packed, labeled, and delivered to seniors for the week.  Taking part in the project really made me realize the simple things I take for granted, such as cooking for myself or even having the ability to leave the home.  I really enjoyed volunteering for the project and recommend you give it a shot as well!