Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A Bowl of Soup

In Linghams bookshop this month every bowl of soup sold raises 5p for the Mothers’ Union Soup Kitchens. A group from Mothers’ Union, Chester, recently visited Cape Town in South Africa to see a soup kitchen in operation. One of the members reported back as follows:-

Two cars arrived in an area of waste ground in one of the townships and sounded their horns. Immediately, from seemingly nowhere, dozens and dozens of children came running, clutching a mug, bowl or margarine cartons, anything that would hold soup; and miraculously formed two lines behind the cars, no pushing or shoving. They put their hands together and prayed. I enquired what they were praying and was told it was the Lord’s Prayer (in their own language) and that they always did this.

The children were then served with their portion of soup. Some children received a slice of bread, but there was not enough for each child – but not one child complained.

Believe me we stood there with tears running down our faces to see some 200 children queuing like this for food, the only hot food they would get that day.

The 5p raised from your bowl of soup today will feed 10 people. Thank you.”

There are now some 39 Mothers’ Union Soup Kitchens in Cape Town. Each week some 100,000 children and adults come to them for their only hot meal of the day. The Mothers’ Union members in Cape town who make the soup are rightly proud to do so, and consider it an honour to be part of the team.

I didn’t have any soup but I gave a small donation – it seemed amazing – and at the same time horrifying - that a tiny sum (to me) could end up providing the soup for 200 people. We often look with envy at some grand piece of spending by someone and say “How the other half live”. But we don’t know we are born – this is how the other half really live.


  1. Thanks for posting this John. Cape Town is beautiful but like so many places the gap between the have and have nots is unimaginable. The other side of life sees folk eating steaks the size of the cow!

  2. Yes. We do take so much for granted. There are huge complaints in New Zealand at the moment about child health care not being free at Doctors 'after hours'. Life is not perfect here by any manner of means but at least there is child health care! A very timely reminder that poverty (and the US, UK and NZ all have child poverty too) is a relative term. A term fueled by inequality and expectations.


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