“I help people because I love seeing smiles on their faces…”

Khutso Mahlabaseletji and her ‘surprise’ bundles

“I help people because I love seeing smiles on their faces. If I can put a smile on someone’s face, I am happy.”
This is Khutso Mahlabaseletji (39) from Sunway Village’s motto and aim in life. She wants to relieve need, help children who have to cope on their own, and bring some happiness to those who need it most. Khutso, a waitress at a popular restaurant in Hartbeespoort, is a well-known figure in the Sunway Village and Ten Rooms and Bonanza squatter camps. She has been the go-to for people in need for the past six years and was responsible for distributing food among the needy during the lockdowns in South Africa over the past two years.

Besides looking after the elderly and orphans, she hosts a Christmas party for children every year and raises donations to buy school clothes for children who cannot afford them.

It all started six years ago when she held a family Christmas party. “We had a little swimming pool for the children and suddenly children from all over the village appeared. It was clear they did not have much of a Christmas and our family Christmas party turned into one for the village,” Khutso laughs. “It was during this celebration I noticed how many children did not have shoes and were obviously needy and I wanted to help.” Khutso started assisting families in need with food and donations of school clothes out of her own pocket when she could, and she organised special days for children and families on 16 June and Christmas.

And then lockdown happened. “I had a baby of a few months and suddenly we could not work. I had met Pauli Koch of 5+2 Ministries before lockdown and when lockdown happened, she called and asked if I had food. She took me shopping and bought a lot of groceries for our family. However, there were so many people around me who were going hungry, that I started handing out food. When I was down to my last litre of milk, Pauli called again. God sent her,” Khutso said. At the same time, residents in Hartbeespoort rallied together to get food for needy people impacted by the lockdown. Seeing that Khutso has already been busy with a food drive of her own in Sunway Village, she was asked to distribute food donations to needy people. “We fed so many people in Sunway, Ten Rooms and Bonanza squatter camp. Even after people could return to work, many did not have jobs anymore and there was a big need. The strangest thing was that donations kept on coming. People were suddenly aware. To this day, I have never asked for donations, but we receive them. God is wonderful, He knows when we need what!”

However, last year, just as everything was returning to normal Khutso found out she was pregnant once again. “I was so shocked. I was on contraceptives and we did not plan more children. We had two boys, 6 and 2, and then I heard I was expecting twins! I spent a whole day under a blanket in my bed and cried. But then Pauli told me it was blessings from God and suddenly I was happy again.” Khutso worked until the day before she went into labour and her twins, Zane and Zoë, were born three months immaturely on 2 January. They weighed 1.3 and 1.4 kg. She has not been able to work to date and hopes to return in May. And still, she tries to help others in need. “Their need did not stop when I had babies, she says.

The Hartbeespoort community and businesses that are aware of Khutso’s dedication to those in need, are now rallying together to help Khutso for a change. “She is a wonderful woman with so much empathy for those in need. It is time to give back to Khutso,” says Pauli.

Various businesses in Hartbeespoort and individuals have contributed towards a fund to assist Khutso with living costs and caring for the twins until she is able to work again. Anyone who would like to assist can contact Charles de Beer on 072 574 9727.

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