Visiting a food shelter in Vanderbijlpark

Food shelter; Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark; Cor Blind Man in Vanderbijlpark; Cor Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark

Visiting a food shelter in Vanderbijlpark

“Moments” sometimes punch you in the stomach and leave you breathless. I had my moments. I remember a visit to a concentration camp in Germany, a battlefield in France and standing in front of the great pyramids.

The story I want to share with you is about life. A story about miracles and hope. The story of Cor, a blind man, whose eyes were touched by the Hands of God.

Food shelter; Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark; Cor Blind Man in Vanderbijlpark; Cor Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark
Cor and my Dad speaking. Cor is the man in the blue shirt.

The inspiring story of Cor and the food shelter

Can you imagine spending your days in darkness with no more than a flicker of light every now and then? God works in mysterious ways. When Cor prayed for an improvement to his eye-sight, God answered his prayers and gave him 20%. Some people would argue and say that a 10% improvement is hardly a miracle. For Cor it was. Now he could see shapes and make out people. But the true miracle was yet to come.

He was so grateful for what God had done for him and wanted to give back to the community. The neighbourhood where Cor lives is run by drug dealers, prostitutes and shady characters. Many homeless people hang out there. Poor people of all race and colour. People that the world had turned their back on. Closed the curtain. Shut the door.

It is impossible for one person to change the world but one person can make the world of a difference.

Instinctively he knew what had to be done. He wanted to prepare a home cooked meal every day and feed the hungry. This was easier said than done.Where would the food come from? Where would he cook it? He lived in a very small apartment and didn´t have the space or finances. But God provides and quickly donations were rolling in. Biker clubs were helping. He doesn´t accept any money. Pots, cutlery and eventually a freezer was donated. Word spread and the lines became longer. More people to feed. At night people from the neighbourhood would help him to peel the vegetables.

Food shelter; Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark; Cor Blind Man in Vanderbijlpark; Cor Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark
People enjoying a home cooked meal at the shelter.

Some days the lines were very long with a lot of mouths to feed. They would start to panic. Will the food be enough to feed them all? But you know what? The food were always enough with second helpings for those who wanted more. You want to tell me this is not a miracle?

We arrived just before 10 am on a sunny Thursday morning. A lump was forming in my throat when I saw how this once beautiful neighbourhood had deteriorated. I remember driving past here every day to school on my bicycle. Around the corner is the church where I was christened. It has closed it´s doors due to the fact that people were not going to church any more. I still remember the last time I was there. When did all of this happen or was I also one of the people who have turned my back on it all?

Food shelter; Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark; Cor Blind Man in Vanderbijlpark; Cor Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark
Plates washed after the meal.

People were already hanging around, waiting. Cor knew we were coming so we headed over to greet him. He is a very tall men with gentle features. I told him that I wanted to write about this amazing project that he had undertaken. Some people went back inside the building when I took my camera out. They were ashamed to be photographed in a line, asking for food. This was understandable. Imagine this was me. I would feel the same. I respected their privacy.

Food shelter; Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark; Cor Blind Man in Vanderbijlpark; Cor Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark;
People going for seconds.

The caretaker came out and asked me if I was from the Press. She was not friendly but warmed up when I told her that I grew up here and now live in Argentina. I had no intention to embarrass anyone. She told me about how this neighbourhood had changed over the last couple of years. Soon more people joined the conversation and pointed out the pimps and drug dealers. They explained to me how drugs exchange hands every day. How corrupt the police force is and how they live amongst all types of people every day.

The conversation moved on to the food and the people outside. They are regulars. Some days more than 60 people come to eat here. One woman told me how children stand in line to eat. That nearly broke my heart. From here they move on the Red Cross or the hospital where they also get something to eat. But they all tell me that the food is by far the best here.

Food shelter; Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark; Cor Blind Man in Vanderbijlpark; Cor Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark
Macaroni and a vegetable and meat stew.

Cor is very particular about the food. They get a balanced, home cooked meal. The food is clean and well prepared. He takes pride in that.There are no food on Sunday. That is the day when he rests.

Food shelter; Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark; Cor Blind Man in Vanderbijlpark; Cor Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark;
Cor always says a prayer before people can eat.

It was time. The pots were carried out one by one and placed on a table. The people were forming a line. It was time to pray. This food shelter was not about a specific religion. You did not have to be Catholic or Protestant to get food. I liked that. I watched the people. I got handed a plate to taste the food. By now it was difficult to hide my tears. As I was talking to Cor and the other people I pretended to have sun in my eyes. Fact was I was crying. I was so humbled by what I have seen. I quietly thanked God that I never had been in this situation. I thanked God that I always had food to eat. An unbelievable sadness came over me. Something that I couldn´t explain. I felt like hugging all the people and sob like a little child.But I kept my pose.

Food shelter; Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark; Cor Blind Man in Vanderbijlpark; Cor Food Shelter Vanderbijlpark;
Me and my stepmom at the food shelter. They insisted that we also eat something.

It was time to go.After everyone had eaten they washed their own dishes. The water was thrown in the drain and the cutlery counted.People left.

I gave Cor a hug and told him what a wonderful thing he was doing for the people. I got the impression that it was the other way round.

Where:  Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
When: 4 June 2010

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

8 Comments

  1. What a great post and I agree with you on god and the way he works.Suppose because of this, my life is not great but been good so far.Thumbs up for this great man.

  2. This is one of the best posts I read from you. It's so close to your heart. I read this actually from Jessica M's blog page. I'm proud of you as much as I am with Cor. You reminded me of the missions so much :)… I hope you lose some of your poise sometime and just do what you felt like doing…:)…love you much Nelieta…

  3. Hello Nelieta -I really appreciate this post, Nelieta. A while back before I met you here, I wrote a blog post that very much relates to your post here. It's called, "Home Is Where The Heart Is." What Cor did is what I speak about in my story. There are hungry and homeless people in our own cities and towns. Why are we sending money thousands of miles away and ignoring the starving person sitting on our own street corner? Great Post! 🙂

  4. HI Cahrlie, thank you for your comment. I am sure I have seen you commenting about that story but I have never read it. Well, I am going there right now to see what you wrote.I agree with you completely. There is so much that we can do to relieve poverty in our own countries…all we have to do is to find the opportunities!Have a blessed week my friend!

  5. i like reading heartfelt and personal post like this Nelieta. It's heartwarming to know people like Cor still exist and are making difference to this world.

  6. Hi Claire, this was a very difficult post for me to write. It took me a whole day 🙂 It is not easy to see the town where I grew up and where my early memories were formed being transformed like this.Cor is doing an outstanding job and I know it is coming from the heart 🙂

  7. Thanks Nava! God has always carried me and I have a lot to be thankful for. My life has simplified so much since I have moved to Argentina 3 years ago. Other things in life are now more important.

  8. Hi Melissa, thank you so much! God really does work in mysterious ways and He has proven that with the hostel that we´ve built 2 years ago. Maybe I will tell people about that one day :)Have a great week and God bless my friend!

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