The Kingsley Holgate Foundation has successfully distributed more than 1.2-million meals to vulnerable communities in South Africa since the start of the national lockdown on 27 March, 2020.
With the support of a group of partners and volunteers, together with Land Rover which has mobilised the Foundation by supplying two new Defender 110s, Kingsley and his team of humanitarian adventurers have helped to feed thousands of rural homesteads with a focus on mothers and vulnerable children. The Foundation’s ‘Feeding the Wildlife Community’ mission kicked off just over a year ago with a goal of delivering much needed assistance to communities bordering conservation areas hard-hit by the collapse of the tourism industry under the pandemic.
Starting at Kosi Bay mouth, part of the beautiful iSimangaliso Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal, this Land Rover expedition achieved the extraordinary feat of tracking South Africa’s entire border in an anti-clockwise direction. The journey circumnavigated the country’s perimeter including the borders of Mozambique, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, the entire length of the Indian and Atlantic coastlines, as well as the land-locked Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho in torrential rain, mist and mud.
The demanding route was the first long-distance, real-life test for the new Land Rover Defender on South African soil. The journey not only proved the extreme offroad capabilities of the Defender, but also contributed 270,000 meals to the total tally of over one million nutritious DoMore porridge packs delivered to families, crèches and early childhood development centres close to wildlife areas over the past year. Each 1kg fortified porridge pack can provide 10 meals when mixed with water, and the packs are distributed in bales of 10 packs each.
“In the beginning, we never thought that this Covid-19 humanitarian effort to distribute a million meals would be possible,” said Project Rhino ambassador Richard Mabanga, who converted his 2-tonne ‘Rhino Rig’ (normally used for community educational efforts around conservation and rhino poaching) into a food-carrying, nutrition education unit, which since the start of the pandemic in March last year, has travelled over 70,000 hard kilometres.
“But we’ve done it – 1.2-million meals to be exact – together with thousands of colourful ‘shweshwe’ face masks donated by Goodbye Malaria’s community-based sewing teams, countless bars of sanitising soap and Covid prevention health information.”
“We’ve now clocked over 30,000km in total with our two Defenders,” said Kingsley Holgate. “These vehicles have been instrumental in our efforts to reach remote areas for the distribution of well over one million meals.
“It’s a great collaborative yardstick and one that every person in the team is proud of – not to mention the immense gratitude from the recipients, which makes it all truly worthwhile. It is sometimes hard going, trying to reach deep into rural areas, camping where we end up, always making a plan and building trust with so many forgotten communities. But it’s been a humbling privilege to be at the frontline over this dark time, and to observe the inner strength of so many good people who’ve also pitched in to assist.
“We pay tribute to Land Rover, the DoMore Foundation, Project Rhino, the teams from Ashton College, His Way Outreach and Grace Family Church Ballito, Nkombe Rhino and Goodbye Malaria. We also thank all the caring individuals who, at the onset of the pandemic, joined forces as volunteers under the Feeding the Wildlife Community banner and have made such a massive difference.”
The challenge now for Land Rover, the Kingsley Holgate team and the DoMore Foundation is to chase the next milestone and bring the total tally to over two million meals-worth of nutritious porridge packs, distributed primarily to mothers and children at ECD centres and creches in rural areas still facing hunger and hard times in the year ahead.