Food security is a major challenge for many university students in the developing world, including at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and it will take joint efforts of individuals and organisations to address it.
For this reason, Dr Dominique Anderson from the South African National Bioinformatics Institution (SANBI) at UWC collected a donation of student care packs for deserving students on campus.
Dr Anderson sourced 350 student care packs from the Support Orphans in Southern Africa Foundation (SOSA), which were packaged and distributed as part of the ongoing Nutrition and Wellness Programme run by the Division of Student Development and Support (SDS). SOSA, while based in the Netherlands, has roots in South Africa, founded by South African born JP Skinner and his wife Renate Vink. The couple originally started by collecting donations for orphanages, and as the foundation was established, they saw the need to provide support for all people in need.
“From supervising students, I know the impact that COVID-19 is having, and I felt the need to assist where I could,” Dr Anderson explained. “I had a discussion with my friend, who has been associated with SOSA in various other projects, explaining that students were experiencing difficult times, and this is when we decided to step in and assist.
“I had assisted with other projects which SOSA donated to. This is how I began speaking with Renate Vink from SOSA and we began planning the care packs. SOSA and its donors have been supporting a number of projects and I am grateful to the organisation for their assistance, not just with this project, but also the many others they have been involved in”.
Dr Anderson, who is also helping in the UWC Tuffcat programme, said although this was a personal project, Professor Alan Christoffels assisted with putting her in contact with the right people at UWC.
She hopes that the donation does not become a once-off initiative. “There are a number of projects which are ongoing and many people in need, and I truly hope that we will have the opportunity to continue with this initiative. I would just like to thank SOSA for their support across several projects, and also my friend, Retha Maass, who introduced me to Renate and was the catalyst for this initiative”.
Ncedikaya Magopeni from Student Development and Support said they were grateful for the donation that Dr Anderson has organised. “Food security is a big challenge for students, not only at UWC but throughout the country and the world over. It is through joint efforts like these that we can start making a difference and continue to locate the support as part of promoting student success. I hope this donation will motivate many more staff and members of the alumni community to follow suit.”