Zainuniessa Waggie Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – An Athlone pensioner has made it her mission to not let children go to school and to bed on empty stomachs through Soffiyah’s Feeding Scheme.

Zainuniessa Waggie, 63, has transformed her home into a place where she provides fresh, nutritious meals for about 70 children from disadvantaged homes in Athlone and surrounding areas daily.

“I started the initiative after I lost my granddaughter who had charge syndrome. She was fortunate enough to get all the medical attention and everything she needed.

“Some children would come before and after school knocking on my door asking for food.

"This touched my heart. Some of these children are neglected by their parents because of drug and alcohol abuse. They have painful stories and have been through the worst at tender ages,” Waggie said.

She said the initiative was also a way of showing children they are special and loved.

Soffiyah’s feeding scheme, which started feeding 25 children three years ago, has also employed a community member.

“These children must know there is more to life than drugs and alcohol.

"We don’t want them to join gangs so that they will be able to feed themselves and they cannot stop going to school because they are hungry. They deserve a better life and I see them as my own children. I wake up every day at 6am and prepare the meals with love.

"For breakfast I give them porridge and sandwiches. For lunch it’s a cooked meal and a fruit. This is my calling and passion, I don’t do it for money,” Waggie added.

Every December they choose a day to spoil the children and take them to the beach. The children also get Christmas presents.

Waggie has appealed to businesses and individuals to support her initiative as she would like to expand.

She also urged the public to be cautious of a scammer who is pretending to be affiliated with them and giving people a bank account details.

“I do not give my bank details on social media. If people want to help they can call me. The donations don’t have to be money only but also food,” she said.

To donate contact Waggie on 082 411 1822.