After nearly two years, ‘Rosie’s Bakery’ is open for business!! The bakery is located in the township of Khayelitsha, home to over 1 million residents, just outside of Cape Town. A GIANT thank you to Christine and Vanessa Sullivan who represented the Collette Foundation at the opening. After only 3 weeks of baking, Rosie’s bakery is already feeding many in need and selling breads to the local community.
The bakery plans were developed by Dan Leader and Neil Ratner of SAWGBP - South African Whole Grain Bread Project. Their plan consists of building a container bakery that can produce a nutritious bread to feed those in need in the local community and also be sold to create a steady revenue stream. After 18 months, the hope is that the bakery will be fully self- sustained, selling enough breads to cover expenses. Rosie’s bakery is the second bakery built by SAWGBP.
Christine and Vanessa where able to spend time with Rosie, participate in the bakery opening, and see the bakery in action! Here are some of their reflections:
Khayelitsha, the township where the bakery is located, is one of the most marginalized and poverty-stricken townships in South Africa. The township has a population of over 1 million residents with over 50% of the population unemployed and over 27% of the population HIV positive. There is estimated to be over 14,000 orphaned children. Driving into Khayelitsha is like driving into a completely different world: “houses” made of scrap metal or junk-wood line the streets, electrical wires hang from every which direction and, porter potties are clustered in designated refuse areas. Those who do not live in Khayelitsha seem to almost fear it because it is so contrasting to the rest of the modern, metropolitan city of Cape Town.
Within this township is what locals call a safe haven known as “Baphumelele.” Baphumelele was started by Rosalia Mashale (“Rosie”) in 1989. Rosie is a remarkable women and to listen to her story is humbling; this all started for her when an infant was left on her doorstep and she knew she had to care for it. Quickly word got out and more children were left. With the help of a group of women from the community she began looking after these unsupervised children and after the first week had 36 children. Rosie is so grateful to the Collette Foundation for assisting with the funding to make the dream of this Bakery into a reality. It will mean not only jobs, but a supply of bread to help feed those in the community. Rosie runs a Kitchen (what we would think of as a food pantry), an EduCare Center, an Orphanage, a Woodworking Shop, an Aids Respite Center and now her most recent addition: the Bakery.
We were able to see all of Rosie’s centers and got to spend some additional time with the children in the orphanage, however, most of our time in Baphumelele was spent at the Bakery. SAWGBP has consulted with many experts in the fields of nutrition and HIV/AIDS in the U.S and South Africa to come up with the best formula for SAWGBP bread. Dan, being a Baker by trade, has developed bread that is not only nutritious, but also delicious! It is a blend of South African whole wheat, soy, cornmeal, seeds, and nutritional supplements, and serves as a valuable source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids which these children desperately need.
We were able to spend time with the bakers, who have been hired and trained, and are all from the Khayelitsha Township. They were excited and eager to learn their new trade and give back to their community. The bakery is all within a mobile container unit, much like one of the Pod Storage units you see around here. The Container is clean and organized – a state of the art production line, simple yet geared for high yield output. Dan Leader worked with the bakers for only two days before the bakery opening and the bakers were making loaves of bread like pros by opening day. The bread came out perfect; this is definitely the best bread I have tasted while in South Africa. It tastes like something one would expect from an Artisan style Bakery here in the States.
The bakery opening itself was a wonderful experience. Many of the local community members came out to celebrate the event; there was singing and heartwarming speeches made by Rosie, Dan Leader, the Off the Mat and Into the World group (who shared in the funding of the bakery), of course us on behalf of the Collette Foundation and even the Mayor of Cape Town. The Collette Foundation was thanked time and time again for its contributions to the project and everyone was so pleased we came all the way from the United States for the opening! All of the donations made prior to the opening and on the opening day itself will go to operating the bakery, and it is planned that in 18 months the bakery will be bringing in a profit, making donations to local organizations, and be all-and-all self-sustaining.
It was very gratifying to see and be apart of a project that was making such a positive impact on so many lives, and for people who where truly thankful for the help. The Collette Foundation should be very proud of how these funds were used.
Christine and Vanessa also visited the Collette Foundation project at the Knysna Educational Trust – stay tuned for their story and photos!