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Pietermaritzburg woman feeds up to 150 gogos out of her own pocket

Grace Mnikathi of Willowfontein, Pietermaritzburg, feeds up to 150 elderly people in her five-roomed mud home twice a week, with no funding from the authorities.


Twice a week Grace Mnikathi offers breakfast and lunch to the elderly of her neighbourhood, out of her own pocket. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane


Mnikathi sells sweets and snacks at a nearby primary school and uses the money she makes to provide lunch for elderly people every Tuesday and Friday.

They eat bread and tea for breakfast. Lunch is anything that is available in the house, says Mnikathi, sometimes a chicken curry. This means that the elderly residents can take their medication on a full stomach, she says.

She started with six gogos in 2016 and the number has grown to 150. They come at 6am and leave at 7pm. Mnikathi keeps a register to check that everyone is present.

“Gogos would come to me and ask for food. I could not ignore them,” she says. “Seeing that a lot of them saw me as a shoulder to cry on, I saw a need for action. I took the profit I made and bought food in bulk. Whenever anyone was asking for food I would take from the bulk.”

“In 2016 I decided to invite them for Christmas lunch. Six of them came. Then I took a decision to invite them every Tuesday. The number has grown to 150. They now come on Tuesday and Friday,” says Mnikathi.

“This is our happy home,” says 80-year-old Sizakele Ntuli. She started visiting Mnikathi in 2017. She says her favourite days of the week are Tuesday and Friday when she goes to Mnikathi’s house.

Read the full story on GroundUp.


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