The Qunu Cafe coffee shop at the Iziko Lombomi centre in Imizamo Yethu officially opened to great fanfare last week.
Since January, the coffee shop has welcomed scores of foreign visitors touring the settlement, bringing in extra income for the centre, which not only serves as a hall for community meetings but, in recent times, has been used as an operations centre for disaster relief efforts.
The Hout Bay Christian Community Association (HBCCA), which runs Iziko Lombomi, has been hard at work thinking up fund-raising ideas.
According to the association’s treasurer, Hennie Jacobs, there are plans to roll out a number of technological innovations at Iziko Lobomi, including new software for students in the computer room, an app to register residents of Imizamo Yethu and Hout Bay for training management and promotional purposes and an e-learning centre of excellence.
The HBCCA also wants to hold talks with a company on the possibility of rolling out wi-fi hot spots in Imizamo Yethu.
Mr Jacobs acknowledged that the association was faced with financial challenges, and that in recent times contributions from private individuals, especially locally, had dwindled to “only a handful of people”.
Like many NGOs, Iziko Lombomi relied on public donations for its survival, he said.
“Hundreds of local residents living in Hout Bay have never been to this centre or know of the work we are doing.
“Our Qunu Cafe initiative has changed all of this because it is attracting more and more non-IY residents to visit the centre, giving them a first-hand experience of what this place is all about.
It is easy to get to, with lots of safe parking in front of the centre with staff on duty from 9.30am to 6pm, six days a week, Mondays to Saturdays,” he said.
At the coffee shop’s official opening on Thursday May 18 guests were treated to snacks, juice and, of course, coffee. They also enjoyed traditional dance routines.
On stage, local lawyer and artist Michelle Jacobs, who has been involved with Iziko Lobomi for decades, paid tribute to the staff and volunteers who were the “inspiration” behind its success.
“These staff put in sleepless nights to make sure the centre services the local community,” she said.
“When we first opened the Qunu Cafe, we were waiting to see what would happen, but now we can see that everyone who comes here leaves with a smile.
“The comments we have received from our visitors are very good.”
Ms Jacobs, who painted the murals in the centre and designed the artwork for the coffee shop, said she wanted to celebrate the Eastern Cape in “some small way”, as many residents of Imizamo Yethu hailed from that province.
The HBCCA recently launched the Iziko Lobomi Helping Hands Partners programme, through which the public can make online donations of R100 or more directly to the HBCCA on its website (www.hbcca.co.za).
“By donating this money, the lives of people can be transformed and we can become part of the solution in Imizamo Yethu,” said Ms Jacobs.