“I am strong, resilient. I deserve a life filled with joy, love and peace.”
This is just one of the encouraging messages displayed in the offices and corridors at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
Saartjie, as it’s known by those who live at the shelter, is one of FoodForward SA’s beneficiary organisations located in Manenberg ,Cape Town.
The centre collects its quality surplus food directly from our retail partner through the virtual foodbanking (VFB) programme, managed by our FoodShare digital platform.
FOOD DONATIONS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
During a recent visit to the centre, our team met with one of the women who stayed at the shelter after her abusive husband forced her and their two young children out of their home.
The 50-year-old survivor now works in the kitchen at Saartjie, where she and her team cook nutritious meals for over 150 women and children who live at the shelter.
Operations manager Achmat Allie.
“The food donations make a huge difference,” she says.
“I love it when we get veggies then we can make a pot of stew and that’s what most of the ladies need to boost their immune systems.
“Some of the women have been living off scraps which they’ve been getting off the streets. Some of them haven’t had a proper meal in weeks or months before coming here.
“We also make healthy meals for the babies with the veggies we get. You can see the joy on their faces when they get a warm plate of food,” she says.
BREAK THE CYCLE OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
Recounting her own story of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, the mother of two now lives on her own with her sons.
“He made her believe that the abuse was out of love,” she says.
“It started with him sleeping out of the house, he didn’t come home or give me money anymore.
“When I would ask him where he was he’d say it’s not my business and that’s when he started hitting me.
“He would apologise and say he hits me because he loves me, so I thought that’s what love is.”
In 2002 when she was eight weeks pregnant with twin boys the abuse stopped, but only for a few months before things escalated again.
“Things seemed to be getting better, he wasn’t hitting me anymore,” she says.
“But when I was six months pregnant it started again and it got really bad,” she says.
“He started sleeping out again and when I confronted him he started kicking me. A few days later I started bleeding and at the doctor, I was told I lost the twin boys.”
ABUSE IS NOT LOVE
After her miscarriage, the woman says it wasn’t long before the cycle continued.
“He begged me to stay so I stayed because I thought he would change,” she says.
“Years later when I fell pregnant again the abuse continued but that’s when I had enough.
In 2008 she moved to Saartjie where, through the support of the team, she was able to regain her confidence and independence.
Saartjie Baartman letters of appreciation
“During my time here, I had a lot of support from the staff and the woman who I shared a room with.
“Today I am living on my own with my boys and we have a great relationship,” she says.
Her advice to women who find themselves caught in a cycle of abuse:
“I want to urge other women or even young girls who find themselves in abusive relationships to leave as soon as the abuse starts.
Often women who are trapped in the cycle of abuse also experience food insecurity, due to their financial dependence on their partner.
For these women walking away from an abusive relationship also means losing access to money, a place to stay and even food.
FoodForward SA recognises this and places high priority on beneficiary organisations that provide refuge for victims of abuse.
Ensuring that these women and their children have access to regular nutritious food, gives them hope and helps restore their dignity, from victims to survivors.
Donate to FoodForward SA and help us to continue feeding and nourishing the lives of the vulnerable women and children who walk through the doors at Saartjie Baartman.