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News24.com | Everyday Hero: Bo-Kaap ‘iron lady’ helps feed 1 000 people weekly during lockdown

Masturah Adams in a striped shirt coordinating the soup kitchen in Bo-Kaap.

Masturah Adams in a striped shirt coordinating the soup kitchen in Bo-Kaap. (Supplied)

  • A Bo-Kaap mother expanded her yearly soup kitchen during Ramadaan to help feed more than 1 000 people in Cape Town during the lockdown. 
  • She helped the community set up communication and food distribution channels, and means for the elderly to get medicine without leaving their homes. 
  • The project is almost entirely funded through donations. 

It all started because Masturah Adams wanted to help the homeless who passed her home every week.

This year, the 66-year-old’s annual Ramadaan soup kitchen helped feed more than 1 000 people weekly in the Cape Town suburbs of Bo-Kaap, Hanover Park and Delft. 

Adams is affectionately known as “iron lady” in her community, because she is a “tough cookie” who gets things done. 

In her interview with News24, she said that at the beginning of South Africa’s Covid-19 outbreak in March, the Bo-Kaap community came together to form the Covid-19 Bo-Kaap Community Response Team and elected her to lead their response to the virus. 

Read here to find out how to nominate an Everyday Hero in your community.

The mother of three quickly set up WhatsApp groups, food distribution channels and means for the elderly to receive their medicine without leaving their homes, thereby placing their lives at risk. 

“Every year, we host a soup kitchen during Ramadaan as part of our way to care for the community, and this year – when we saw how many people were going hungry and were jobless – we decided to expand the programme to help all those in needs,” Adams said. 

Adams with volunteers in Bo-Kaap (supplied)

Adams with volunteers in Bo-Kaap. (Supplied)

Volunteers preparing meals (supplied)

Volunteers preparing meals. (Supplied)

She said they had started the soup kitchen in the week leading up to lockdown, and prepared hot meals for roughly 800 people twice a week, delivered food parcels to 450 people, and fed 150 homeless on a near-daily basis. 

The community also distributed 48 100-litre pots to Retreat, Hanover Park and Delft to help feed the vulnerable there. Adams said they specifically tried to assist an old age home in Retreat which was struggling during the lockdown. 

Police officers recieving prepared food by the Bo-

Police officers recieving prepared food by the Bo-Kaap community to thank them for the work they are doing. (Supplied)

The outreach programme, which is set to continue in the weeks and months ahead, was almost entirely funded by Bo-Kaap community members. 

It is customary for Muslims to donate 2.5% of their income during Ramadaan. 

Adams said the ward councillor, a local Pick n Pay, and Gift of the Givers also made substantial donations.

People at a Retreat retirement village waiting for

People at a Retreat retirement village waiting for food. (Supplied)

Food being prepared in Bo-Kaap (supplied)

Food being prepared in Bo-Kaap. (Supplied)

She said the community, located in a historical neighbourhood characterised by brightly painted houses next to Cape Town’s city centre, had experienced roughly 17 Covid-19 cases since the start of the outbreak. 

The community has been using the local mosque’s microphones to keep the neighbourhood informed about the spread of the virus, and the condition of residents in intensive care due to the virus. 

“In the evenings, we would all quiet down and pray for our fellow community members battling the virus.” 

Volunteers hard at work preparing soup (supplied)

Volunteers hard at work preparing soup. (Supplied)

She said the economic impact of the virus had pushed many into poverty, with many Airbnbs closing down where people used to work, or construction and painting jobs coming to an end. 

“I often say that people living in Bo-Kaap are millionaires because of the value of their properties, but when you go behind closed doors, you see 20 people squeezed into two-bedroom homes.”

Adams in the soup kitchen in Bo-Kaap (supplied)

Adams in the soup kitchen in Bo-Kaap. (Supplied)

Adams, a retired business strategist who used to worked at Transnet, said despite her advanced age, she was not concerned about dying from Covid-19. 

“Look, I try to do everything in my power not to get infected. I only go to the soup kitchen and my home, as my kids refuse that I go to the store. But, I simply cannot sit in my home like a hermit while there are people going hungry.” 

News24 is looking for everyday heroes who will help their communities survive the coronavirus crisis, and wants to ensure that these heroes receive the recognition they deserve, and help inspire others to follow in their footsteps. Nominate yours today!

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