On Wednesdays and Thursdays, a queue of men dressed in worn-out shoes, dusty clothes and with course hands worn out from hard work and desperation to make ends meet, gather at Lucy Street in Orange Grove – Johannesburg, for the two meals they are guaranteed for the week.
Some have been at work but have no meal to go home to, others live on the streets and go up to four days without eating.
They are waiting patiently for Vicky Seboyane and her team to arrive with the food which gives them nourishment for the day and the strength to live on in hopes of a better future.
Sixty-two year-old Vicky is the co-founder of Vision Feed, an organisation which cooks up close to 100 decent hot meals of beef or chicken, pap or rice with vegetables that can range from cabbage to a chakalaka salad.
She has an unlikely business partnership with two young men, Siyabonga Nxusa (20) and Thando Dlamini (23), who were drawn to her humility and offered their time to assist her run her feeding project. Similarly, she was blown away by the two young men’s love for helping others and determination to become entrepreneurs.
For three years, Vicky operated her feeding project from a restaurant on Louis Botha Avenue which recently closed shop due to financial constraints. But, this has not stopped her from feeding the needy, cooking every meal from her home.
Siyabonga and Thando frequented her restaurant after school to play video games and buy her famous Kota, and later struck up a deal to set up shop inside the restaurant. They offered cell phone repairs, sold computers and helped other learners in the neighbourhood with computer lessons and home work.
“The boys tried to pay rent but sometimes they struggled, but I was attracted to their humility and kindness towards others. They promised to each contribute R500 per week towards the feeding project and that’s how we became partners,” she says.
Vicky started Vision Feed after fellow local restaurateur Anthony Sacks kept coming to her restaurant to order 60 plates of food at a time. At first she thought he was hosting a party, until she learnt that he was giving the food to the needy. Anthony continues to buy food from Vicky today.
Men would walk to her restaurant to ask for more food because it had run out, that’s when she realised that the 60 plates were not enough. When Siyabonga and Thando offered to contribute from their own pockets, this spirit of giving and entrepreneurship inspired Vicky to take the young men under her wing and groom their ambition.
Vicky has been in the food game for many years. Motivated by her mother who sold vetkoeks to make ends meet when she was a child, she started four thriving restaurants until she had to close three of them down when the death of her three sons affected her emotional well-being.
With the restaurant closed, Thando and Siyabonga have had to close their own business, but it has not stopped them from helping Vicky run the feeding project which both men are passionate about.
Thando says he is inspired by Vicky every day.
“I am inspired by her selfless care and love for people. She continues to help others, despite her business having challenges,” he says. “She has been through so much as a person and business woman but it has not deterred her from caring for others and she does it with pure joy.
I learnt accounting in high school but Mama Vicky taught me about running a business. I learnt about book keeping and the no matter how bad your day is it’s important to make sure your clients see you smiling. She also taught me that it is important to start your day with prayer, and that you are never too old to take baby steps. “
American writer, Rebecca Solnit says of generosity: “Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself and you might as well do it with generosity, and kindness and style.
Vicky and her team are proving that they truly embody the spirit of selfless giving and generosity.