My name is Osatuyi Kehinde Micheal. l graduated with a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science, majoring in histopathology in Nigeria. l then proceeded to earn a certificate in forensics biology in South Africa for a duration of eighteen months.
Actually, my journey’s story of community service started during the COVID-19 lockdown period with the act of giving when I started giving out sandwiches to the homeless people in the community. This drew the attention of some fellow people I met in the community that asked me to volunteer at the community kitchen in a way to build the community together.
You know, the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. This gave me a good creative idea to start committing myself to get more involved in the Muizenberg Community Kitchen as one of the kitchen coordinators.
Michael and his team members getting ready to serve a delicious plant-based meal at the Muizenberg Community Garden.
It all first started through the Community Action Network in which I am still one of the active members of this network. The Muizenberg Community Kitchen was one of the projects as an emergency response for food security as COVID-19 surfaced throughout South Africa. With the help of an abundance of volunteers, the community kitchen served about 200 to 300 people per day. Despite that, the volunteers didn’t get paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless to give their act of humanity to help and build others.
However, COVID-19 seemed to die down, so no funding was coming to support this project, yet despite this, the passion to provide wholesome food for those in need never dwindled. So, for this project to continue, the core team, which consists of the four of us, teamed up together to find a way for the kitchen to become self-sustainable. Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more but those giving more. The help and support of the group of volunteers have shown that their commitment never relented, but instead they give more to support the Muiz Kitchen.
So, our first initiative idea started with veggie boxes, with both organic and conventional means to sell in an affordable way to the people in the community so that we can self-generate money to sustain the Kitchen.
Michael always shows true inspiration when serving his community.
Then various initiative ideas came in waves to also sustain the Muiz Kitchen by introducing our own currency, the Muiz Coin. You can buy a coin and spend it on a meal at our community garden or you can donate your coin to someone who needs it. This actually creates a system to reduce the activities of drug abuse and homelessness on the street in our community; instead of giving cash, you give them a Muiz Coin to receive a nutritious meal sourced locally. It also helps the low income employers to get an affordable meal. These coins also support the pensioners and retirees to get a lost cost meal. Moreover, the sit down plant based meal in the Kitchen whereby people come together to eat and connect with just R50 also helps to subsidize the meals provided at the garden.
Muiz Kitchen has created a platform of training where we equip and mentor individuals or participants with ranges of skill development. This has also brought connectivity and networking to various people in the community. Muiz Kitchen has branched out in many directions to further Muizenberg and the surroundings. We have done two different nutritional workshops, catering events, book launches, school meals for the kids, and frozen meals.
On a more entrepreneurial note, to help sustain the Kitchen, we created and have a conscious pantry where people can buy package-free goods. This helps to promote less waste and support the Kitchen.
Another way Michael is involved with his community through the community clean-up activities.
Furthermore, with all these ideas, we decided to collaborate with a registered organization called Amava Oluntu so that we can act as a product service under them by using their NPO status number to operate and to create a way for the Kitchen to have more of a learning space for the youths, which is one of the main visions of Amava Oluntu by empowering them.
Actually, what drives and motivates me more is to commit myself to different projects by adding my values to the community. This is just the natural spirit of humanity I possess. The COVID-19 pandemic gave me many ideas and time to build my community. I further initiated a bicycle delivery service system to reimage the greater Muizenberg bicycle deliveries through innovative solutions.
When I discovered that the Muiz Kitchen has served close to about 30,000 meals, I realized the challenges of the pandemic have changed the mentality of people around us. So, I brought the idea of a bicycle delivery service system to support the Community Kitchen to deliver meals to the pensioners and the vegetable boxes to the old age homes and residents in the community.
Moreover, as a new innovative idea, this bicycles project has acted as a means of collecting compost from different homes in the community, and we deliver it to the Community Garden. I am currently initiating the creation of bicycle carts that can take recycled goods from different places to the dumping sites.
A successful day cleaning the Muizenberg community!
This brings me a critical question: can we rethink our community around a sustainable Muizenberg Community Kitchen, and if so, where to begin?
We already began this journey by assembling the bicycles we got to do deliveries locally. We are using this part of the vision to move the community forward and improve young lives by requesting deliveries and providing job opportunities for the youths. We are hoping to transform it to E-bikes that can easily deliver to neighborhood environments and connect people together. This is an implementation or creation to bring ease to the surroundings and to use it as a means of connection and adaptation to our environment. These bicycle deliveries create an impact on our health, the environment, air quality, road safety, and accessibility to everyone in our community.
We are also currently supporting the kids from Muizenberg community schools to get them bicycles to ease their transport to study in Muizenberg due to distance. These bicycles have also created a means of support for the volunteers who travel from far to volunteer in the Kitchen to ride. This project has given me joy as a means to build my community by empowering the youths and creating a means of job and skills opportunity for them.
In addition, I also initiated a community clean-up project that brings out some of the residents in the community that have the heart to clean their environment. It is a great way to create awareness in our community and lay the groundwork for future waste reducing efforts. I initiated this idea to bring about a sense of community and responsibility to keep our community safe and clean, to attract tourists, and save our beach from the flow of waste materials around us.
This is a means of building our community with positive impacts. We all know that environmental cleanliness begins with each individual’s desire to be clean. This project has brought good engagements for the recovery people to add value and skills to their environment.
These are the kinds of skills I would like to share with my community; to be a mentor, a peace builder, and community builder. I want to use these skills to empower the youths, the kids, and the homeless people by adding positive values to their lives through impact, empowerment, adaptation, and transformation.