Cooking up a storm for children of Imizamo Yethu

Community Cook Up IY co-founders Camilla Wilson and Tjarla Norton with members of the community.

Following a successful cook up on Human Rights Day, last week, the Community Cook Up IY team are now gearing up for a fun-filled day on Good Friday.

To commemorate Human Rights Day (March 21), they spent the afternoon in Imizamo Yethu (IY) doing a special cook up at which more than 500 children enjoyed a warm meal.

Community Cook Up IY co-founders, Camilla Wilson and Tjarla Norton, said they had much more planned and had teamed up with Clay Cafe to treat 60 children from Imizamo Yethu on Good Friday.

“We’re now planning for Good Friday where we’ll get the children to create their own plates donated by Clay Cafe, who will also finish it off and send it back to the kids which they can then use when coming down to eat on Fridays,” said Ms Wilson.

“We’re also looking for any donations for Easter eggs because we’d like to have an Easter egg hunt for the children… people can drop off any donations for the Easter hunt at Massimo’s or Caltex Freshstop,” she said.

The Cook Up project started two years ago after a fire in Imizamo Yethu which left around 10 000 people homeless.

The project feeds close to 500 children weekly from five 25 litre pots of stew, made possible by donations received from the community and local businesses.

“A lot of our friends lost their homes in that fire and were moved to a local temporary relocation area (TRA). At the time, we were just looking to support where we could while the people were still living in tents on the field,” said Ms Wilson.

“We started engaging with the community that was affected and things just grew. The cook up happens on a Friday night because there’s a lot happening in the community on that day, the children are playing soccer and there’s also a boxing group that are training so we just want to make sure they are all seen to.

When we started we had just one 25 litre pot of stew and one pot of rice, but in 10 minutes the food was already gone. There were more kids than we could imagine and the following week we did two pots of each, even that wasn’t enough.

We feel very strongly about the food that we cook. It needs to be food that we’ll also feed to our own children, so it’s not crappy cuts of meat or bad vegetables.

To us it needs to be nutritious food that was made with love, and we have an amazing team who spend all day on Fridays making the food for the kids,” she added.

Ms Wilson said they sometimes get pots of food from members of the community, but have also received regular food donations from Clay Cafe, Massimo’s and Gracie Love in a Bowl.

Community Cook Up IY are currently in the process of registering their organisation as a non-profit and are setting up an online platform where people can take a look at how their donations are being spent.

“We’re also looking for a legal team to partner with us and an accountant so that by the time we get to financials, it will be completely transparent where you’ll be able to log in online and see where the money goes transparency is key for us,” said Ms Norton.

“There were a lot of issues when the fire happened because it was registered as a national disaster, there were people coming in from all over but nobody was going into IY to help the people on the ground.

Everything was set up on the field outside of IY, but because of our involvement on a personal level with the people that we knew living in IY.

We would also like to ask for volunteers to come and work with us. We’ve created a safe space to work with the community and we take people up and get them to engage with the people of IY because it doesn’t happen as much as it should,” she said.