Founder of the Sedikong sa Lerato feeding centre for vulnerable children, Mavis Mathabatha is the recipient of the 2013 Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Food Security.
Mavis is a courageous and innovative philanthropist who in 2005 gave up her lucrative business interests to establish Sedikong sa Lerato (meaning “Circle of Love”), a drop-in feeding centre for orphans and vulnerable children in Tooseng, a village south of Polokwane in Limpopo Province. She wanted to do something to alleviate the high levels of poverty and unemployment in her community.
Mavis provides the children with two meals a day, a safe place to play and help with their homework. In many cases, the food that the children receive at the centre is the only nourishment they get all day.
In a quest to provide the children with better nutrition, Mavis investigated a friend’s suggestion that the Moringa or miracle tree was a powerful source of nutrients. The leaves of the tree provide a highly nutritious supplement that can be harvested and ground into powder and added to meals.
In September 2006, Mavis began planting Moringa trees on the grounds of Sedikong sa Lerato. The dramatic and positive effects on the children’s physical and mental wellbeing prompted Mavis to extend the project and she now has over 6000 trees on her own farm in Tooseng where she commercially produces Moringa. Mavis has also donated a Moringa tree to every household in the community so that they can benefit from its nutritious leaves.
Mavis has subsequently been awarded 2010 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, and her innovation has led to the creation of food security projects in the towns of Tooseng and Moloto in Limpopo Province.
Mavis’s holistic approach to providing nourishment for vulnerable children has the potential to improve food security in impoverished communities across South Africa and the African continent.