Breaking Bread with the homeless

Sheradia Brown believes its easier to understand other people’s hardships once you have broken bread with them.

Ms Brown, or Aunty Radia as she is more commonly known in the community, is a Salt River resident and director of Breaking Bread, a charity helping the homeless in Salt River and Observatory.

The organisation feeds the poor four days a week and gives the homeless a chance to sing and dance and socialise.

“A lot of people say we mustn’t feed homeless and they must do work for food, but it doesn’t always work like that.

“What people on the street want to see is inner love. When you show them that inner love, their reaction is priceless,” said Ms Brown.

The charity has been running for about a year, but Ms Brown started feeding the homeless from her home several years before.

“I will never forget one day five street kids came to my door,” she said, recalling that all she had had in the kitchen at the time was a loaf of bread, peanut butter and some coffee.

“I said, ‘God please help me.’ It makes me cry when I think about it. I cut that bread up and I made them black coffee and they enjoyed it so much. They said, ‘Thank you, mummy, people were very hungry.’”

Ms Brown said we often did not know what was going on in the homes of others or why they were on the streets. “Sometimes you should just sit and listen to the stories of those who are on the road.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover. Yesterday, I made cabbage food and they said, ‘Oh, Aunty Radie, you remind us of home, because this is real home food.’”

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Ms Brown cooks a meal at her home for the homeless in Salt River. They are served on a field at the community centre or on her stoep when it rains.

On Friday the organisation serves food to homeless people opposite Spar in Observatory.

“Every week I change the food. Every Friday they get curry. During the week, I make pumpkin food, green bean food or breyani. We help people on the street doing drugs and suffering from alcoholism. We try to help because you can speak to drug addicts, but to get them off drugs has to come from them.

“We encourage them and tell them to feel free to come to us for help. They get help at rehab and when they get out, there is no shepherd guiding them. They go back onto the street. It’s so sad because you see how beautiful they look when they come out of rehab and after two months you see the same person again. That is where we as Breaking Bread will come in to help,” said Ms Brown.

The organisation is raising money through backabuddy for a shelter and soup kitchen.

“We are looking at opening a full time soup kitchen as a start. My heart is so big but my house is so small,” said Ms Brown.

Visit breakingbreadnpc.wordpress.com for more information about Breaking Bread.