Gertrude, a beacon of hope for poor, hungry in Nemato

Woman helps feed those left destitute after lockdown

MOTHER OF THE DESTITUTE: Getrude Sigonyela in Nemato Township who feeds more than 50 people on Tuesdays and Fridays. Picture: TK MTIKI

A solid meal was always part of the day at Sikhulise Skills Development. The project, based in a building opposite the Port Alfred Police Station, came to a halt when hard lockdown restrictions were implemented in 2020. With any form of gathering banned, Gertrude Sigonyela was also forced to stop the meals she had been providing there.

So hungry people simply followed her to her house.

“My phone never stopped ringing,” she said. Desperate people whom she used to feed at Sikhulise Skills Development would ask, “Mama, where are you”? 

Soon, her house in Nemato became a beacon of hope for the needy. Sigonyela said at Sikhulise Development Centre, only men had come for food; at her house, they came with their children and other family members. 

“You see, here the numbers of the people have increased a lot because it’s closer. It’s much easier for people to come with their kids and the whole family and you cannot turn them away,” Sigonyela said. 

“Sometimes they do not only come on Tuesdays and Fridays; they come any day of the week to ask if I have something.

“I end up sharing with them everything I have. 

“Others just come to help me with washing or house chores, then I know that they need something to eat,” she said. 

Sigonyela said she is grateful for support from the Port Alfred Soup Kitchen and individual donors, but the numbers of hungry people coming to her is growing every day. She has now turned to gardening to try and meet the huge need.

“I am about to start planting veggies in my yard, but I am a bit concerned about goats wandering here in the township,” she said. “I’m worried they might eat my veggies.”

If there is someone out there who has an old fence that he or she is about to get rid of, Sigonyela would make good use of it to protect the fledgling food garden.

“I am doing this for the people and I am not expecting anything in return. I know God is watching over me,” Sigonyela said.  

If you’d like to support Sigonyela’s important work in our community, and a goat-proofing fence is not within your means, please consider donating non-perishable food, or fuel. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ingredients for soup such as split peas, beans, samp and soup powder;
  • Firewood for cooking;
  • Gas to cook on when it rains.

Any donations can be dropped off at the Talk of the Town office, 29 Miles Street, Port Alfred.