Magda runs two soup kitchens every week feeding more than 2000 people a month in Paarl East. With the help of volunteers, they bath, feed and clothe children up to the age of six years old, many of whom have been affected by HIV/AIDS. Today, she is not only running a soup kitchen that feeds more than 500 people weekly, but she has also converted a part of her home into a community centre where people can access a range of community services, from nutrition counselling to health advice.
What are some of the challenges you face?
“When I wake up in the mornings, I don’t know where or how I’m going to feed the community,” Magda begins. Magda explains that her doors are always open for those who are hungry, even though most mornings she wakes up with not knowing the number of people she will need to feed. Magda ensures that everyone who leaves her place is well-fed and she will never turn away anyone who is hungry. “This morning we had to cater for more kids than usual, and I wondered how everyone would get cereal. I had no idea. But God always comes through. He always has a plan, and He will always find a way for those who love him.”
How do you overcome these challenges?
Whether it’s physical or emotional assistance that Magda needs, every day she sits in silence praying for what lies ahead. “I pray all the time, and with every circumstance I find myself in, I always put God first, and he always comes through for me. I sit and wait to hear from Him, and if he doesn’t come through today, then He’ll come through tomorrow,” Magda explains.
Magda believes that if she puts God first, He helps her with whatever she needs. She talks to God like a friend and tells Him that it’s His people that need the help, asking Him to look after His people when they suffer. “Many people don’t understand how I do this because we have no government funding,” she says.Magda appreciates the donations she receives and says that most times it’s more helpful when a voucher is donated so that she’s able to buy what is necessary to feed the masses. She also finds petrol money very useful, as then she has the freedom to drive around and see who else needs her assistance and where she’d be needed most.
What is one of your best memories since starting Magda’s soup kitchen?
Magda says, “I’ve been doing this for twenty years, the grown men that help me today were children when I started my journey. I am passionate about witnessing lives changing. Some people in our community have no hope, no job and no energy for life. People lose hope and sometimes feel as if they can’t go on.” Magda explains that she loves sharing her testimony and being an example of what the power of God can do. When community members see how her life has transformed, they start understanding that God has the power to help them too. “They look at me as a testament for what God can do. Once they see someone whose life has changed, someone who came from the same background, they relate to their story, and it gives them hope to improve their lives too. I tell people how the Lord has changed my life and that I will always trust Him and His way – no matter what happens.”
Any words of advice for people who need hope?
Usually, people who have no hope feel like they’re in a dark pit, where they’re stuck and can’t get out. Magda explains, “Some people have a rich friend that can help them out in sticky situations, but the people I see don’t have a rich friend, they are all poor and unable to help each other.” She explains that sometimes people in need find it easier to go back to alcohol or drugs or to continue stealing – because they’re all in the same position. Magda wants to teach people that with God, you can do anything. If you trust Him with all your heart and soul and listen to His guidance – you’ll find all the hope you need. “You’ll start walking a journey with God where He’ll be there every step of the way. The hard times might feel long, but He carries you through it so that you have a testimony, and at the end of your struggle you’ll be able to say that God pulled you through it.”
“Sometimes people look at impoverished people and feel as if it’s not their job to help. They go through life thinking that someone else will help them. The enemy will always try to derail you when he sees that you’re doing good or making a difference. He plans to take you down so that you’re unable to do good anymore.” Magda explains. For Magda, the most rewarding part of her journey is when she prays with someone, and months later, after walking a journey with God, they proclaim how much God has changed their lives. A person moving from hopelessness into hope is the most rewarding part for her. “Seeing God work right before my eyes and seeing Him pull someone out of the darkness and into the light. If you choose to handle every person like a human who has needs, just like you, you’ll see their lives change right in front of you!” Magda concludes.