Social investment is one of the most important roles that a company can play within its immediate geographic community. For United Manganese of Kalahari (UMK), working with all stakeholders to create and develop initiatives is a cornerstone of its philosophy; identifying a need, and developing solutions and interventions that deliver tangible, positive outcomes.
The soup kitchen in the small, challenged village of Ga-Tshekedi is such an initiative. Not only will the facility serve as a centre for nutrition but also as a beacon of hope, because there are people, and businesses in South Africa, that care for fellow citizens who require care.
The village of Ga-Tshekedi, with a modest population of 300 and a history dating back to 1967, lies in the Joe Morolong Local Municipality. For years, the community has faced challenges due to the lack of basic infrastructure and amenities. The nearest educational facilities are in neighbouring villages, requiring daily commutes for learners, a situation that emphasizes the need for local development.
In May 2023, Mme Kgomotso, along with four other community representatives, engaged with the management team at UMK. The meeting, held at the mine premises, saw the community leaders present a list of essential needs, the requirement for a community soup kitchen was prioritised.
“Our engagement with the Ga-Tshekedi community was an eye-opener to the pressing needs of people. It reaffirmed our resolve to not just be a mining company, but a partner in community development,” said UMK chief executive Malcolm Curor.
On 9 November, UMK delivered and handed over a fully equipped, newly constructed soup kitchen to the community of Ga-Tshekedi. The handover event saw UMK staff join hands with members of the Ga-Tshekedi community, the local ward councillor, and delegates from the Department of Social Development in a partnership that exemplified what could be achieved when collaboration between communities, government and private enterprise can come to the aid of people in need.
The soup kitchen comprises a dining hall, kitchen, scullery, ablution facilities, and a storage area, all fully equipped with necessary amenities like furniture, gas stoves, a fridge, and pots. Moreover, UMK has provided groceries sufficient to last for approximately six months, ensuring the immediate sustenance needs of the community are met.
The total project, costing R1.9 million and was constructed over a four-month period and speaks to the South African ideal, shared by all in our country, of “a better life for all.” The Department of Social Development will assist the community in managing the project, ensuring compliance with all necessary regulations and ongoing successful service to the community.
“The inauguration of the Ga-Tshekedi soup kitchen is a milestone in our journey of corporate social responsibility. It embodies our value of sustainability and our commitment to being environmentally responsible while improving the communities around us. This is not just a building; it is a symbol of human dignity and a vision that no one in Ga-Tshekedi will go to bed hungry,” said Curor.
“UMK believes in creating lasting impacts. The Ga-Tshekedi soup kitchen is more than a facility; it’s a testament to our commitment to the South African dream of a better and more equitable future for all.”
The project also reflects the view that once-off philanthropic events should be sustainable and live beyond ribbon cutting; it’s a sustainable development initiative aimed at empowering the community. “Our objective at UMK has always been to make a tangible difference in the lives of the communities we serve. This project reflects that ethos,” Curor added.