Kindness against all odds.
Peter Wagenaar’s never-say-die attitude will stand him good stead for expanding his MiniMeltdown feeding scheme in the near future. Proof of this is his continued work of feeding the homeless despite his car being maliciously set alight. The perpetrators are still at large. We look at the work done by Peter and are reminded that “even though the world is large, one person can still make a world of difference”
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Peter Wagenaar – my wife Lesley and I reside in Beach Rd, Mouille Point, Cape Town, South Africa
What is your profession?
I have my own Real Estate Company And also a Design & Branding Agency
Has it been affected due to lockdown?
Both of my businesses have been severely affected by the Lockdown as we cannot do any physical viewings of properties with clients nor can we travel to meet with clients.
Tell us about the feeding scheme that you and your wife have started.
We decided to prepare Home-Cooked meals for the Homeless People in our area due to the Covid Pandemic Lockdown, as they don’t have a “home to be locked down to” and there would no longer be handouts coming their way from the general public due to the Lockdown – so out of a basic care for fellow human beings, we embarked on feeding them for the period of the Lockdown. We were also aware that if they had no means/access to food that in all probability they would eventually turn to crime to feed their aching tummies.
What does a typical day look like now?
Our typical day starts with me waking up a 4am to start preparing the Hot Porridge of the day (today’s was Cardamom & Cinnamon Infused Oats) – I need to heat and cook it slowly to avoid it catching on the base of the pots and ensure even cooking of the large quantities as I am doing it from a standard residential kitchen. Whilst it is simmering away, I layout 160 Tubs and give them each a dash of milk then later when the porridge is poured in it is nice and creamy. I then dish up all the tubs and pack them into hot-boxes to retain the heat. Cart them downstairs and meet Justin, who is one of the Homeless people that has assisted us from day one. We then set up and hand these out to our Homeless Patrons along with a fruit for breakfast.
After breakfast is completed (7am – 9am) I go to the shops for the main ingredients for the Dinner preparation, then return home to offload them and have a quick shower, then I have “brunch” with my wife Lesley and then straight into cooking the dinner meals, and again we dish up 160 portions and then hand them out again. Then it’s the washing up of the pots etc (which my wife really loves) and finally replying to the many social media messages of hope that come our way.
Do you have financial support to keep the feeding scheme going?
We do get in some donations and we carry the shortfall ourselves.
What has been the general reaction to the work you are doing?
The general reaction has been absolutely fantastic with only a handful of people against it (pre-dominantly due to the location that we are serving it from as they feel that this strip that we live in is “too” prime real estate – yet this too is our neighbourhood as we live right here and we feel that every neighbourhood is entitled do their bit – besides we have a Permit to do so.
What is the biggest lesson learned so far.
If I may answer in two parts – firstly how intolerant a few people can be towards the Homeless People and secondly what great Community support and love can emanate from a negative situation.
Complete the sentence, for a better future we need……..greater awareness & rectification of social injustices and far more compassion towards each other - at worst we must learn to “agree to disagree” but not to resort to spewing out vitriol and resorting to acts of violence when others differ in opinion.
Prosperity and posterity, what legacy would you like to leave for future generations?
I would like to leave a legacy of hope for future generations and not to grow weak in the face of adversity (even though our car was maliciously set alight we managed to cook and serve breakfast later that morning as it wasn’t fair to let our Homeless Patrons down).
Which charity would you like to see be more supported and why.
I would like to see two Charities being supported more – the first being Heart NPOhttps://www.facebook.com/HEARTNPO/ who do amazing work with the poorest of the poor in the Paarl area amongst gangster ridden communities – they feed and support the vulnerable and needy there. Secondly IHATA Shelter for Abused Women and children as they look after women & children affected by domestic violence and give them shelter for up to 5 months whilst nurturing them through independence and recovery to integrate back into the community. https://www.facebook.com/ShelterIhata/
What are your future plans?
We are currently discussing expanding our MiniMeltdown feeding scheme and to further assisting the Homeless in our Community see more at fb.me/MiniMeltdownFeeding or email me email@example.com to see how you can assist.
You are having lunch with 2 successful entrepreneurs. Who would you invite and why?
I would invite Richard Branson as he has a heart for life, business, adventure and PEOPLE – getting the balance right between living life to the full whilst not forgetting the less fortunate
And Massimo Bottura who is a 3 star Michelin Chef (I too personally started my working career as a chef) – yet Massimo never forgets the poor and has set up many communal eating facilities for the homeless and poor people in various countries by feeding them and enabling the transformation of these people though food and building a culture of value that will strengthen community resilience, open opportunities for social and economic mobility and build healthier and more equitable food systems. See here for more https://www.foodforsoul.it/
Favorite quote or mantra to live by
“In a world where you can be anything – just be KIND”