Lydia Hlophe is a community Valley Hero and founder of the Yenzanathi Community Upliftment Project, a non-profit organization founded in 2007 by local women involved in community work in the KwaNyuswa Tribal Authority of Botha’s Hill. YCUP’s primary community initiative is their soup kitchen feeding 247 people, mostly the sick, elderly and children of their community.
Each needy person receives soup and 2 loaves of bread at least twice a week which helps the poor and most vulnerable members of the community. Each beneficiary is visited quarterly by The Valley Trust to assess the impact of those meals and to identify other needy people within the community that may be helped. YCUP also runs an Internet café which is open to everyone, a half hectare gardening project and a small poultry farm.
Lydia’s huge heart to uplift and support her community was recognized by her employer while she was a domestic worker in Hillcrest and they rearranged her five-day work week to three days which afforded her two days a week to tend her garden and develop the soup kitchen. Knowing that widows and grannies in her area couldn’t survive on their social grant alone and needed more, food became her primary goal. Neighbors donated land on which to plant and she started talking to the Amakosi and Nduna’s who responded to her passion and commitment to the people with their support ever since. In 2007 she applied to Department of Social Development and registered her NPO.
Since then the YCUP has grown. In 2011 a container and 5 computers were donated a to set up a computer center with internet access for the youth where they offer training to the community and in 2015 they started a small fenced garden through the NDA in the valley where 65 elderly ladies who couldn’t get to the community garden were given tools and Lydia trained them to plant and grow at home. Shoprite sponsored the soup kitchen Checkers came on board with seedlings for the garden.
ZERO to FIVE have consistently donated porridge to feed these beautiful children from which the Gogos also receive nutritional benefit against HIV, diabetes and overall health.
Yenzanathi Community Upliftment Project shares their property with a creche. Over Coronavirus lock-down the children have not been allowed to go to the creche but the families have been able to collect the porridge for them. Over lockdown Lydia saw a need to entertain the community children so they started bicycle rides for the kids and then converted a container into a socially distanced movie cinema.
Lydia’s dream is to get more land and become the main community center for social well-being, training, nutrition, emotional support and access to wi-fi and computers for the youth.