Ngangifisa helps keep Diepsloot Combined School learners’ bellies full

    Learners from Diepsloot Combined School with Meghan Rittenberry from Ngangifisa. Photo: Supplied

    DIEPSLOOT – Ngangifisa provides groceries for 14 child-headed households in Diepsloot every month.

    Fifty-five children from Diepsloot Combined School receive a month’s worth of groceries every single month thanks to the work done by Ngangifisa.

    Ngangifisa was started four years ago by Meghan Rittenberry after she began volunteering with a literacy project in Dieplsoot called EduFun. While volunteering with the programme, Rittenberry noticed that many children, in child-headed households, were going hungry.

    Inspired by a feeding scheme from her native Chicago, Rittenberry decided to create a feeding scheme that would provide children with enough groceries to last them a month. Overwhelmed by the need within the school, Diepsloot Combined School helped identify which children were most in need.

    “The concept of someone going hungry makes me angry. But the thought of a child going hungry, to the extent that now they can’t finish school, which is something they really need to get out of their situation, is just absolutely bonkers to me.”

    Rittenberry started a Go Fund Me page with the goal of raising $5 000 (about R71 900). Within two months, about $7 000

    (R100 000) had been donated.

    This money enabled Rittenberry to compile ‘starter kits’ for the learners. This consists of a solar-powered stove, which emits no toxic fumes during cooking, a solar light, backpacks filled with school supplies, bedding, cooking utensils and a month’s worth of groceries.

    “I wanted not only to give them food every month but to set them up so that they could cook the food… the promise is that we will see them every month and give you groceries for your family.”

    Rittenberry highlighted that Ngangifisa is about much more than providing food supplies but aims to create a sense of family among all the learners and offer them the emotional support they need. “We do spend a lot of time with them. We’ll share meals together, celebrate their birthdays … the time is theirs and I hope it brings them a sense of comfort.”

    The Ngangifisa food pantry started with seven families and has since grown – they now feed 14 families. The eldest learners from the original families have since graduated from high school, much to Rittenberry’s delight. “It is a bittersweet moment. We’re so proud of them. I love knowing that our goal is to get them to finish school and they’ve achieved that. It’s a really proud moment for us.”

    Ngangifisa recently launched their website to enable potential donors to donate easily. For $25 (about R350) a month, Ngangifisa is able to provide one family with a months’ worth of groceries. For just over R2 000 ($150), Ngangifisa can provide a starter kit to a new family.

    Rittenberry hopes to continue to grow Ngangifisa to include many more families in need. For now though, the Fab 4 as they are known, which includes Rittenberry, Gillean Small, Sachi Fuji and Jenny Taylor, work to ensure they provided ‘their’ 55 children with groceries and support each month.

    By Laura Pisanello