On a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon on August 6th, the Rt. Rev. Itumeleng Moseki, the Anglican Bishop of Kimberley-Kuruman addressed and officially opened the Richmond Soup Kitchen in the small central Karoo dorp. The gala event was attended by civic and community leaders as well as a complete cross section of the local religious community. The Arch-Deacon of the Anglican Church came all the way from Upington just to lend support to what became a truly ecumenical community event.
Three hundred children from the impoverished township and squatter camps were fed a scrummy meal of piping hot soup with slices of whole wheat bread. The SAPS brought in truck loads of children and the Traffic Department assisted in blocking off the street to traffic along Loop Street in front of the Supper Klub and Kerk.
The feeding scheme was instigated by members of the local Anglican Church with the kind assistance of a sister congregation in Poolesville Maryland, a very small American town a short distance from the American capital, Washington DC. A representative of that parish, Jonathan Warner flew out in order to take part in the ceremony and to read a prayer from his Bishop, the Rt. Rev. John Chane. It soon became apparent that the entire Richmond community wanted to be involved. The Ned Geref Kerk Dominee, Leon Cronje generously offered his dedicated involvement as well the beautiful Kerk grounds for the children to wash up before eating as well as to sit to enjoy their meal in the warm Karoo sun. For some, this meal may be the only meal they can expect in a day.
The village's two grocery stores, Percy se Plek and RicMic have pledged to contribute vegetables; Mr. Reynie, the local baker is sponsoring some of the bread and the farming community is keeping the freezers choc-a-bloc full of soup bones and meat. The soup is being made by the staff of Die Richmond Supper Klub; Carol, Chrissie and Louis, and is served with the help of the ladies from the various Church congregations and ladies who are involved with various AIDS programmes. Mrs. Ina van Zyl, the wife of a local farmer and a tireless social worker and counselor, and her staff were livewires in assembling the kids, having them sing songs and say a blessing and to getting them to line up in orderly file to wash their hands, which had to be presented clean to the soup servers!
In order to encourage an awareness of the importance of looking after their own environments, the children were asked to pick up litter and to deposit it in the four bins marked for plastic, glass, paper and cans, all of which will be recycled with the help of Collect-a-Can and the local municipality. An urgent call was placed to the Town Manager, Martin Fillis, as the four large drums were soon filled to over flowing and were supplemented by an additional four bins.
The Richmond Soup Kitchen operates Monday to Friday from the community centre this enables the children to have access to a meal far closer to their homes.
The huge success of the project is a tribute to the efforts of the entire Richmond community and is something which any small community can emulate. Today the soup kitchen is run by the "Hope in South Africa" foundation.