Rokpa Report December 2014


c/o Kagyu Samye Dzong Johannesburg (KSDJ), 43 Floss Street, Kensington, 2094

Telephone +27 116141948 E-mail:


Background and aim

The Rokpa soup kitchen started in 1995, to provide a hot meal to homeless, destitute and unemployed people in the inner city of Johannesburg. Volunteers run the soup kitchen from the premises of KSD Johannesburg, under the guidance of the KSDJ management team and Rokpa Gauteng Trustees.

Our recipients

There is a regular crowd of about 80, largely male, recipients, at the Tuesday Doornfontein soup drop. There are a few women and children and numbers can go up to about 100 in the cold months. Many are refugees from Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa. Blankets and clothes are also handed out when donations have been received.

Our volunteers

Francoise Holley co-ordinates the morning soup kitchen preparation and works with about 5 committed volunteers who prepare the soup and peanut butter sandwiches at 10h30 every Tuesday morning at the KSDJ Centre.

Lucy Pereira co-ordinates the evening soup delivery to the corner of Nind and Siemert Streets, Doornfontein, Johannesburg at 18h00 in the evening. There is also one to two regular on site volunteers (themselves homeless), who help with distribution.

The estimated volunteer hours fulfilled in 2014 amount to 588 hours calculated as follows:

The soup kitchen operates every Tuesday for 49 weeks of the year (closed for 3 weeks in December.)

  • Soup Kitchen Preparation = 490 hours

(2 hours with an average 5 volunteers per week for 49 weeks)


  • Soup Delivery = 98 hours

(1 hour with 2 volunteers per week for 49 weeks)

Sharon Benatar (KSDJ Chair, Trustee), Sylva Olsen (KSDJ committee member and Rokpa Gauteng trustee), Brian Moodie (KSDJ centre administrator – administration support), Nigel Crocker (KSDJ bookkeeper) provide financial and administrative support for the project.

Other support

Apart from the soup kitchen, we collect donations of clothes and other items. Useful items (apart from used clothes) are either put on the charity table in our shop, with the donations received from these items going to the soup kitchen, or are occasionally auctioned off at fund-raising events, with the money going to the soup kitchen. Clothes that are collected are distributed either to needy people, or are sent to Tara Rokpa Centre in the North West Province for distribution.

Highlights for 2014 include:

2014 saw improvements to the overall coordination and of the Rokpa soup kitchen, as well as increased documentation and opportunities for sharing and replication.


    • Recycle, reuse, repurpose: Soup is being delivered in recycled bottles and containers donated by volunteers.


    • Easter Surprise: 2 boxes of marshmallow easter eggs were donated for distribution in May and were much appreciated.


    • An apple a day: In September we started distributing fruit along with the soup and bread, and it has been well received.


    • Red Hot Chilli Soupers: Keeping up with the latest technology, we have done a great job in improving communication and coordinating the volunteers, through setting up a What’s App group, where Lucy regularly updates on soup preparation, volunteer updates, feedback and photo’s.


    • Spreading the word: The KSDJ Soup Kitchen was featured in a local airline’s ( July edition of their in-flight magazine as an example of how to get involved in local volunteering activities. Since that publicity, people have come forward with donations of spices and non-perishable soup items.


  • Fundraising raffle: Artist and Buddhist practitioner, Zan Louw, has kindly donated a print entitled ‘Precious Life’ for us to raffle and all funding comes to the soup kitchen. There is much love and interest in our soup kitchen


  • Learning and replication: We have been documenting the soup kitchen process, including tips for starting a soup kitchen, tips for volunteers, estimated volunteer hours, vegetable soup recipe, best places to buy food, best prices, etc. We hope to publish this information on the KSDJ website, to encourage sharing and replication for likeminded organisations. Two further soup kitchens were opened this year by 2 separate church groups after they visited and followed our model and recipe. The soup kitchen in the picture on the left was started by a church group in the Free State town of Warden modeled on our documentation.
  • Primary School Library



Throughout much of 2014, we held a drive for donations of educational books to donate to a school in our community that does not have a library. The regional newspaper featured the story and the following photographs were also published. In addition we collected and donated items to be used in art projec

Lowlights for 2014

  • Due to the amount of volunteer hours required, as per above, it is not feasible at this point to operate another soup kitchen in the same way. This has however presented us with the opportunity of sharing information and possibly providing some support to other organisations wishing to start a similar initiative. We will investigate this further in the New Year.
  • Recently, the driver of the vehicle used in delivering the soup experienced an attempted hi-jacking in the vehicle. Locks on the vehicle doors were changed to improve security. Also, all of the tyres needed replacing following wear and tear
  • The soup kitchen store room was broken into and a new steel door needed to be installed for security


  • Ideas for 2014 – 2015
  • Additional support
  • Christmas parcels – with Christmas around the corner, we hope to put together small Christmas packages for soup recipients.
  • Blankets in winter – Winter months are cold in Johannesburg, especially for many of the soup recipients, who live on the street. We have in the past received requests for blankets and warm clothes during these times and we hope to be able to supply blankets at the beginning of winter.
  • Sustainability
  • Vegetable Garden – the KSDJ centre has a small piece of land suitable for a small vegetable garden. We hope to set this up to supplement the soup ingredients and possibly become sustainable. If possible, we would like to train an unemployed person to tend the garden, and to pay this person a small stipend.
  • Replicate – Given the challenges mentioned above regarding volunteer time required to operate the soup kitchen we will make an effort to share learnings and provide support to organisations interested in setting up their own kitchen.
  • There is also a need to broaden the volunteer pool, which we will try to do in the coming year, including using the KSDJ website more effectively to encourage support through volunteers and donations.