Project Hopetown Soup Kitchen
When Ben Mathewson embarked on his maiden ABSA Cape Epic way back in 2010, it was more than just living his cycling dream. While he calls Cape Town home, Ben hails from Hopetown, a small agricultural town in the Northern Cape. Like many such towns, Hopetown has large underprivileged community, where life is tough and food is scarce.
‘Hopetown is a small place but the people there have big hearts,’ says Ben of his hometown. ‘Nana’s Soup Kitchen is a place that gives the local kids a full stomach and, in turn, a smile. The soup kitchen has been operating for a number of years and I felt that my cycling would be a great way to inject extra funding there.’
Established in 2004, Nana’s Soup Kitchen serves the local community by providing food to underprivileged children. Many of these children come from dysfunctional homes and are parentless. A dedicated group of locals cook the food in large pots, breakfast and lunch being served to around fifty pre-schoolers, while over 350 older children receive lunch after school. But it doesn’t end there as any child in need of a little extra attention affection is welcomed with open arms while the food cooks. A noble cause indeed and one that relies solely on donations for financing. Regular visits back to Hopetown made Ben acutely aware of the need for an added cash donation, hence the formation of Project Hopetown, effectively cycling for soup.
‘Over my three Cape Epics, my respective teammates and supporters raised over R200,000 for Nana’s Soup Kitchen,’ says Ben. ‘This came in the form of donations per kilometre ridden, private donations and generous sponsorship from the likes of Sanofi. While my racing days are fewer and further between these days, Project Hopetown is continuing enterprise and I’m looking at ways to raise more funds.
‘While I realise I can’t uplift the entire country, I’m happy if I can make a difference in the lives of a few dozen kids.’