Twice-weekly supplies as well as new kitchen equipment from the Ladles of Love organisation have boosted the efforts of four food kitchens Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Organisation is supporting in Cape Town, South Africa, to provide nourishing food to vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mhani Gingi’s three Soup Stations, situated in the Mannenberg/Athlone, Uitsig Community and Retreat areas, and a fourth food kitchen supported by Mhani Gingi in Mannenberg, each feed about 200 people, amounting to around 1 600 individuals receiving food a week.

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These efforts towards food security are a continuation of Mhani Gingi’s work for the past 15 years pursuing a mission to alleviate poverty and hunger through providing sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable communities.  Most of the beneficiaries are situated on the Cape Flats and in the Cape Town area.   The need among these communities has deepened as a result of the impact of the lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 virus in the country.

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Danny Diliberto, Founder of Ladles of Love, delivers sparkling new equipment to the Mhani Gingi Community Food Kitchen on 18 June 2020.

Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, Lillian Masebenza, was overjoyed on 18 June 2020 when a delegation led by the founder of the Ladles of Love organisation in South Africa, Danny Diliberto, delivered a generous donation of two cookers, two large cooking pots, soup ladles and other kitchen equipment and utensils to assist Mhani Gingi’s soup kitchens that are preparing and distributing food in Cape Town communities presently.

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Since May 2020, Mhani Gingi has received welcome twice-weekly donations of vegetables, rice, maize and other supplies from the Ladles of Love initiative.   These donations are used to cook nutritious food at the soup kitchens.  Mhani Gingi network member, Gladys Gobodo, feeds vulnerable children in the Mannenberg/Athlone area of the Cape Flats.

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A Mhani Gingi Soup Station point distributing nutritious food in Uitsig, South Africa, in June 2020.

A group of 25 people with disabilities under team leader, Vanessa Baadjies, maintains community food gardens at Uitsig Primary School and at the Uitsig Community Centre, supervised by Mhani Gingi.  The group also provides a community soup kitchen which feeds elderly and hungry people in Uitsig.  Another kitchen is operated by the Blouvlei School for Learners with Special Needs (LSN) in Retreat.

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Sparkling new kitchen equipment from Ladles of Love

“These are not just once-off soup kitchens but a continuation of our work with vulnerable groups in our communities,” said Masebenza.  “I am so thankful for the donations from Ladles of Love which goes so well with the work we are doing on a daily basis.”

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Preparing to dish out porridge at a Mhani Gingi Soup Station point in Uitsig, Cape Town, in June 2020.

Vulnerable groups

The three Soup Stations represent the target groups of Mhani Gingi, which include vulnerable women and children, people with disabilities, and youth with special needs.

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Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, and staff members, proudly display a Ladles of Love apron.

The Mhani Gingi Centre of Social Entrepreneurial Excellence situated at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Athlone, Cape Town, houses the Mhani Gingi Organic Herb and Seedling Nursery which supervises community gardens and promotes healthy nutrition and lifestyles.

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Another queue for food, on a Friday morning in Uitsig, Cape Town, South Africa, in June 2020.

The Centre of Social Entrepreneurial Excellence showcases innovations to include persons with disabilities in urban agriculture.  Mhani Gingi is a partner of the WoW! (WesternCape on Wellness) initiative of the Western Cape Government’s Department of Health.

Restoring Dignity organic soap factory

The Restoring Dignity Liquid Soap Producing Enterprise which Mhani Gingi established with support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, also situated at the Centre of Excellence in Athlone, empowers women survivors of domestic violence.

For further information or to order supplies of organic liquid hand soap contact Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, at or +27 (0)82 465 4687. 


Wellness is commonly viewed as having seven dimensions: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Social, Financial, Environmental and Spiritual. This is according to the Autumn 2020 Newsletter of the Western Cape Government’s Westerncape on Wellness initiative, WoW!

Social wellness involves building healthy, nurturing and supportive relationships as well as fostering a genuine connection with those around you.  Our relationships can offer support during difficult times, said WoW!

LM wall geraniumS 2These tips on how you can nurture your Social Wellness are taken from the WoW! Autumn 2020 Newsletter:

1. Make an effort to keep in touch with friends and family to get and give support.

2. Be thankful for the people that you have in your life; tell and show them that you appreciate them.

3. Be tolerant of others regardless of their age, race or ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

4.  Develop an understanding of and respect for others’ views. 

5. Learn how to resolve conflict in a constructive way. There is no need for conflicts to become unpleasant or hostile.

6. Volunteering helps develop your sense of gratitude and empathy as well as being a way to meet like-minded people and develop new skills. 

7. Finding groups that share an interest with you allows you to share your knowledge and learn from others. It’s a great way to make new friends, or just to learn something new.

8. Be empathetic with yourself and with others.

9. Keep a happy emotional state and spread hope. 

10. Look for a way to adapt to new changes; and thank and appreciate others.

Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network are supporters and partners of the WoW! initiative, which promotes healthy lifestyles in partnership with communities and organisations in the Western Province.  Find more information on how to achieve a balanced, healthy lifestyle incorporating adequate nutrition and physical exercise here:


It is easy to become preoccupied with COVID-19 amidst constant reminders of the pandemic.  Yet, the reaction to stress that helped keep our ancestors safe and ready to respond to the physical dangers they faced, is not always the best way to deal with the type of threats we commonly face today.  This is according to Dr Marshinee Naidoo, a psychiatrist practising at Akeso Alberton mental health facility.

Dr Naidoo explains this evolutionary role of anxiety – and why some of our emotions and responses during COVID-19 pandemic can feel so overwhelming at times.  Read the full article, published on 6 May 2020, at this link:

Is COVID-19 worry affecting your life?

Dr Naidoo also provides the following practical tips for coping with anxiety:

  • SELF-AWARENESS.  Self-awareness — Acknowledge your anxiety and understand that it is a natural yet unhelpful response to the situation, and then make a conscious effort to focus on other things.
  • STAY IN TOUCH.  Stay in touch — Studies suggest that keeping socially connected can help us cope better with stress. Keep in touch with the people you care about through phone calls, e-mails, video chat or texting, not forgetting elderly family and friends, and others who may be feeling isolated.
  • MANAGE STRESS.  Manage stress throughout your day — Incorporate yoga, exercise, meditation and breathing techniques into your routine. These activities can help to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • LAUGHTER RELIEVES TENSION.  Laughter is a great tension-reliever — Try to see the humour or the lighter side of situations.
  • BE THANKFUL.  Substitute worrying for thankfulness by counting all the blessings in your life.

“Displacing worry by focusing energy on something more positive can be helpful in ensuring we are adequately rested to take on our family, work and other priorities. We all experience anxiety at some point, but when anxiety becomes persistent and starts interfering with our ability to cope with everyday life, it is time to address it and seek professional support,” Dr Naidoo says.

Re-published with kind permission of Akeso Group.  Akeso is a group of private in-patient mental health facilities and is part of the Netcare Group.

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The stay-at-home and social isolation the during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown could be challenging for many people to deal with, according to Sandy Lewis, head of therapeutic services at Akeso mental health facilities.

Lewis and Mark de la Rey, a clinical psychologist at Akeso Kenilworth in Cape Town, offered the following practical advice on how to reduce stress levels and anxiety during the lockdown.  This is a summarised version of their advice.  Read the FULL VERSION at this link:  
Supporting your mental health while in lockdown

How to reduce stress levels and anxiety during the lockdown:

  • Routine creates structure, which is particularly reassuring for children. Planning activities and having daily goals can assist in keeping one motivated.  Keep to a daily schedule for things such as meal times, exercise time and bedtime.
  • Look after yourself and practice self-care. This includes adopting a diet that is best for you and following good sleep practices.
  • Getting 20 minutes of exercise a day can also help lift your mood and reduce feelings of tension, as it releases endorphins, the ‘feel good hormone’. It can furthermore assist in supporting the immune system.
  • Should you be on your own or have problems with “cabin fever”, try to stay connected with loved ones and friends through a phone or video call or by messaging them regularly. This enables us to obtain support, share concerns and stay connected, so keep in touch with your social networks.
  • Helping others can provide a great distraction from our own anxieties, so consider ways you can assist others remotely over this period.
  • Try to use the time to engage meaningfully with your family.
  • Stay focused on the present moment and your own current issues that need addressing rather than stressing about a future we are not able to predict.
  • Support your optimism by thinking of all the wonderful ways people are supporting one another during this crisis.
  • By all means provide your children with factual information, but do try to avoid projecting your own anxieties and scaring them with some the developments associated with the pandemic.
  • Keep in mind that stress can manifest itself in the child becoming either more isolated or more defiant.
  • If you feel self-isolation is having a negative impact on your mental health, you should seek professional advice. There are a number of organisations that provide telephonic mental health support.
  • Remember, a sense of humour keeps things light, especially with children and older family members who might be feeling particularly anxious.

 Read the full article here: 
Supporting your mental health while in lockdown

Re-published with kind permission of Akeso Group.  Akeso is a group of private in-patient mental health facilities and is part of the Netcare Group.

Mhani Gingi wellness champions attend WoW! cooking course

Members of the Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network attended a Healthy Plant-Based Cooking Course for Wellness Champions of the Western Cape Government’s WoW! (WesternCape on Wellness) programme on 4 – 8 February 2019.

The five-day course attended by 16 ‘health champions’ from Cape Town communities focused on the health, environmental, global and economic benefits of healthy plant-based eating.  Mhani Gingi nurserywoman, Vuyiseka Tekwana, and Founding Director, Lillian Masebenza, represented the organisation.

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Vuyisa Tekwana of Mhani Gingi Nursery demonstrates a plate of healthy, plant-based food picked from the nursery gardens in Athlone, Cape Town.

Various presenters dealt with health-related topics and participants received practical cooking lessons. The course was delivered at the Private Hotel School of the Capsicum Culinary Studio in Salt River, Cape Town.

Community-based ‘health champions’

The WoW! programme includes ‘health champions’ from the community and community-based organisations who help to promote healthy, active lifestyles.  After the Train-the-Trainer course, each WoW! Wellness Champion was required to train at least 10 other people from their community group.

This resulted in a follow-up in which Mhani Gingi trained 20 people from Uitsig Community, Ravensmead, to implement knowledge gained from workshop. The group of people with physical disabilities from Uitsig Community who received the training are partners and beneficiaries of Mhani Gingi.  They maintain community food gardens at Uitsig Community Centre and at Uitsig Primary School.


Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network, together with partners the 1.6 Million Club Sweden and Yennenga Progress, hosted a Family Unit Participative Conference in Cape Town from 17 to 19 August 2017 that drew together about 30 entities over three days. The purpose was to co-create a solution to feed into the strategy to be used in ongoing efforts directed at preventing the violation of the rights of women and children.

The initiative aimed to promote the health and safety of women and children, eradicate gender-based violence and strengthen the family unit.  It brought together service providers and organisations working in areas with high contact crime rates, government and political entities, participants from communities, and experts, with the objective of creating safer communities and forming a united voice against the violation of the vulnerable.

Holistic, integrated and inclusive

“The problems of violence in our society necessitate the need for a holistic, integrated and inclusive project to highlight the importance of the functional Family Unit,” said Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of the Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network.  “The initiative will result in the establishment of a formal programme to achieve the objectives of the participative family conference”, she added.

Strengthening families and combating violence

Albert Fritz, Minister for Social Development in the Western Cape Province, expressed his support for the conference in a message that was screened at the event via video.

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Albert Fritz, Minister for Social Development in the Western Cape Province (centre), with Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi (left) and Liezl van der Westhuizen, Project Manager (right).

In his message, Minister Fritz expressed his support for the family emphasis of the conference and for a holistic approach to the problems being addressed.  He acknowledged the need for more to be done to ensure the safety of women and children and to combat violence. “We need to disrupt our own programmes,” Minister Fritz said.  Things were not working enough to protect women and children.  “(The situation) cannot continue the way it is,” he added.

Preparing fathers

An added focus of the conference was preparing soon-to-be or new fathers and men in general to understand their roles and take up the responsibility to care for and protect their children and the mothers of their children.

The three-day Family Unit Participative Conference featured discussion around five integrated thematic topic areas:  Education/Skills Transfer; Social Justice & Safety; Social Entrepreneurship; Healthy Lifestyle; and Food Security & Nutrition.

Protection of the vulnerable

On 17 August, speakers highlighted current realities.  Discussion focused on current efforts and the way forward to ensure safe communities and protection of the vulnerable.  On 18 August, capacity-building sessions were facilitated by selected non-governmental organisations.  Round Table Collaborative Strategy discussions among stakeholders within the different thematic sectors aimed to come up with a draft action plan for a collaborative effort to address the challenges.  The final day, 19 August, included an inter-faith prayer circle.

Various organisations participating in the conference included non-governmental organisations working within the sectors of social justice, prevention and reduction of abuse and domestic violence; sexual and reproductive health programmes; services engaging men and boys; those equipping parents of children living with disabilities and persons who are differently abled; as well as organisations focusing on the family unit. 

FUPC Lillian Masebenza, Marlene le Roux and Liezl van der Westhuizen
A conversation with the CEO of Artscape Theatre Centre, Marlene le Roux (right), was screened. She is pictured with Founding Director of Mhani Gingi, Lillian Masebenza (centre), and Project Manager, Liezl van der Westhuizen (left).

Raising awareness

Alexandra Charles, Founder and President of the 1.6 & 2.6 Million Club, addressed the Family Unit Participative Conference on how she built one of Sweden’s largest non-profit women’s organisations.  Carin Götblad, Regional Police Commissioner in Police Region Central, Uppsala, Sweden, and for two years a National Co-ordinator Against Domestic Violence, was another speaker.

Preventing abuse of women and children

Claudia Burger, Programme Director at Activists Networking against the Exploitation of Children (Anex), addressed the subject of the influence of abuse on the family unit.  Aneleh le Roux, Training Manager at Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa (CABSA), introduced the global campaign of Thursdays in Black initiated to combat rape and violence.

Another participant in the three-day conference was poet, playwright and performer, Malika Ndlovu.

Safer spaces

Researcher for the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) at the Institute for Safety Governance in the Global South at the University of Cape Town, Giselle Warton, also addressed the event.  Warton is content manager of SaferSpaces, an online knowledge-sharing and networking portal for safety and crime prevention practitioners.

Another expert speaker from Sweden was Dr Veronica Svedhem Johansson, Senior Consultant in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Karolinska University Hospital and Director of the Swedish HIV National Quality Assurance Registry.  Mark Kleinschmidt, Anglican Lay Minister and Ward 60 Councillor for the City of Cape Town, served as master of ceremonies on the first and last days.

The 1.6 Million Club Sweden, which raises awareness around women’s health and lifestyle issues and lobbies for fair, gender-based, medical research, funded the initiative together with Yennenga Progress, an organisation serving as an accelerator for development.


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