Heart 4 Africa bakery

New bakery brings hope and love to local community. Image Supplied

New bakery brings hope and love to local community

Heart 4 Africa bakery is aimed at setting an example to the local community of the potential of social cohesion.

Heart 4 Africa bakery

New bakery brings hope and love to local community. Image Supplied

Where once was a simple outdoor oven on the outskirts of the Sacred Heart College sports grounds in Observatory, now stands a newly built bakery, with a state-of-the-art clay oven and kitchen facilities.

The new bakery was officially unveiled on Wednesday, 1 March. Among those in attendance were members of Sacred Heart College, the Angel Network, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the Rights 2 Live Africa.

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The bakery has a story as special as the name it has been given – Heart 4 Africa.

Jean Bwasa, founder of Rights 2 Live Africa and bakery facilitator, explained the establishment had been set up to restore honour and dignity in the lives of refugees living in the country. Then, as its name suggested, it aimed at setting an example to the local community of the potential of social cohesion – and a reminder to South Africans to remember their hearts, because this, he believes, is where the solution to many of our country’s problems lies.

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Heart 4 Africa is part of an initiative to empower vulnerable residents. For this purpose, ten previously unemployed women, including eight refugees, together with two South African residents, were trained to become baking professionals.

Heart 4 Africa newly trained staff. Images Supplied


The bakery, in turn, will generate support for the local migrant community, providing a life-sustaining solution to their plight in terms of resource- and job-creation.

Bwasa said that having come from the Congo, he and his family had personally experienced much difficulty and ‘red tape’ hindering their pursuing a livelihood in South Africa.

“When Covid-19 came, things became exceptionally tough for the local migrant community,” he said. “While the government looked after its own citizens in providing food parcels, the migrant community received nothing – with many reaching a point of desperation.”

Bwasa approached Tali Nates from the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre for help and she and her team, together with Glynne Wolman, founder of The Angel Network; and the SAJBD, offered to assist.

“We put together 250 food parcels for the refugee community,” he recalled.

Pizza made by Heart 4 Africa staff. Image Supplied


“It’s about doing what we can, where we have been placed in the community,” said Sacred Heart College head Heather Blanckensee, “Then, through setting an example, teaching children to do the same.”

She stressed that the heart of the school was to give hope, dignity and honour to every person. She had taken Bwasa into her employment when, finding his CV tucked into a drawer, had realised the value he would be to the school. His status as a refugee did not sway her decision. Blanckensee believed that teaching children about unity, love and respect was their role as educators.

Bwasa reminisced with guests: “My wife, Nicole, and I met in a bakery many years ago, so today is a special day for us. It reminds us of our roots and our hearts.”

He explained that xenophobia had made headlines so often, but that he had a new word, ‘philophobia’. “’Philo’ means love, and ‘phobia’, fear,” he explained.

“As a people, it’s not just xenophobia and discrimination which grip our hearts. We have developed philophobia – a fear of love – but perfect love casts out fear.” He said he believes changing our hearts towards one another and falling in love with the nation again is what will uplift South Africa.

Observes Wolman, there are now ten women who will be able to generate an income, and ten previously disadvantaged families who have been given a new lease on life – ten ‘starfish’ for whom a difference has been made.

Jean Bwasa with Heather Blanckensee. Image Supplied