Starfish Project: Young man from Blackheath is paying it forward with his good deeds
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Cape Town - A Blackheath resident’s efforts to inspire change and uplift his community is fast growing into a remarkable project that has seen him do more for the disadvantaged community than he ever thought possible.
After losing his job when the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa, 30-year-old Jason de Vries turned his sorrow into an upliftment initiative, helping and feeding his community’s less privileged and vulnerable.
Over time, De Vries’s project evolved from a soup kitchen to a non-profit organisation called Life Changes Foundation, which looks after vulnerable children in his community, supporting them through interactive projects and a feeding scheme.
De Vries also launched a mobile library as part of his NPO, which is also the community’s first and only library.
“I think I have always had the heart to give and do what I can for those who don’t have much. However, I never thought I’d be doing everything that I am doing now. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and I lost my job, I remember going through the first month and not having anything to eat or money to my name.
“Things got so bad that I took to social media to beg for food and handouts. Funny enough that’s how everything started for me.
“A gentleman from overseas saw my post and decided to bless me with some money. I was shocked and humbled that he had sent me R10 000 just so I could feed my family for the month,” De Vries said.
“However, when I looked around me all I saw was grief and despair. It wasn’t just me who was going through a terrible time, a lot of people were struggling, especially vulnerable pensioners and children.
“So it only seemed right to share my blessing. I took the money and bought food, bagged the groceries and shared it with the people in my community. I used all the money I had been given that in the end, I had nothing left for myself. I was at a loss again, so I went back online to ask for help,” De Vries said.
“The man who had helped me before saw my new plea, and asked me where the money he had sent me had gone, I told him what I had done and he was so touched, he sent me some more money.
“From there I started my soup kitchen, which I still run 5 days a week. With the kitchen I branched out to more outreach work, I started helping the kids with their homework, teaching them life skills and encouraging them to take their education seriously. I also exposed them to positive role models, so they can be inspired and motivated.”
After realising the difference he was making, De Vries who is also a single father of two children, also took on the responsibility of nurturing and parenting eight other children from his community. By fostering the children into his family, he has been able to provide a stable and loving home for the children, something he says, they didn’t have before.
“In January, I began noticing that some of the children were more in need than others. There were about eight kids who I could see were struggling, and my heart just couldn’t let go, I wanted to do something to help these kids. I reached out to Social Services and worked with the Department of Social Development to take them into my care.
“Currently, I’m fostering three children. The other four were sadly taken back to their grandmother last month. I’m in the process of legally adopting them, there’s nothing more I want than to shelter these kids and give them a better life than what they’re accustomed to.
“However, I have bigger dreams than that. I’m running these projects from my rented property, but there’s only so much I can do from here. We need a bigger home, more space for the children. That’s my one wish to get a home for us, a property to work from so I can continue to do more good,” said De Vries.
Life Changes Foundation needs support. To keep the organisation working De Vries needs books for the library, food for the soup kitchen and also financial support.
To help or support Jason’s projects, please contact him at [email protected] or call him on 065 919 8397.