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This week we were trying to figure out why our city Dignity Kitchen lines were so much longer, as we are up to over 400 people per evening and more on Saturday lunches.  The reality is life is tough for the destitute right now, it is getting dark earlier and with the temperatures dropping – it gets really cold.  Even whilst serving we shiver, as a slight wind and the chill cuts you to the core.

In a month’s time it will be nine years since Ladles of Love was founded and the first bowl of soup was served. So much has changed since then, yet in some ways nothing at all. Our lines are definitely longer and we are seeing a slightly different profile of guest more recently, as the state of our nation impacts the vulnerable in the worst way.

Many more elderly people are living rough, alongside that we see a substantial increase in women and members of our LGBTQ+ community.  We have learned over the years that there are myriad reasons why people to land up homeless.

On Saturday it was interesting to see the situation through the eyes and perspective of one of our corporate partners, The Excellence Group.  Their team arrived rolled-up their sleeves and got stuck in to help: chopping; cooking and serving our guests with great team spirit. It is humbling and uplifting to be hands-on and dealing with destitute people – you are instilled with respect and have enormous empathy for their situation. You realise, in the spirit of ubuntu – it could be me.

Taking time to talk to our homeless guests, you hear their stories and so many are heart breaking. They explain how and why they are, where they are and many are: circumstantial situations; unemployment; mental illness; substance abuse addictions – or simply financial ruin.

They have broken dreams and are in survival mode – living one minute to the next and mostly worrying about where their next meal will come from or where they shelter and lay their head.  What brings them hope is that we guarantee them a delicious hot meal and often seconds – this is what sustains them and helps them to put one foot in front of another, with dignity.

With the crippling cost of living and rising food prices we will see a rise in our numbers and this is why we ensure our pots are filled to the brim and can serve hundreds of people in need delicious nutrient rich hot meals.

If you feel you would like to get involved in our Dignity Kitchen either in Cape Town or Johannesburg, as an individual or a corporate team build – please reach out to us via volunteer@ladlesoflove.org.za. Monetary donations keep our kitchen going and you can donate using the link below but please put DK as your reference so that we can will route your funds accordingly.

“Since joining Ladles of Love in June 2022, I have nothing but good things to say. The experience has been truly fulfilling. From planning to the execution, Ladles works like a well-oiled machine. The staff is extremely friendly and welcoming to all. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the people we serve on a Saturday morning at the Dignity Kitchen, the smiles of the children when visiting ECD’s, is a major mood booster when leaving these events. These people are so grateful for any small acts of kindness, and all it took was one man, who chose to make a difference in the world.

As I reminisce on these events, it makes me feel so grateful for everything that I have in my life. Volunteering with Danny and the team has helped me build new relationships, assisting me in gaining some cooking skills and I have a new skills, such as how to make compost; small changes, to make the world a better place.”

Shanelle September – Excellence Group

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