"If I could, I would give every day."
This was the statement uttered by a woman, who in every right deserves to be called an altruist.
Karen Kemp, a resident of the crime-ridden Northern areas of Port Elizabeth, has taken it upon herself to be the source of light her community needs. Wearing many hats, Kemp sacrifices herself for the well-being of those around her.
In the year 2009, she gave up her personal space and converted part of her home into a safe house for victims of various abuse. Although Yethu Safehouse is unable to accomodate all the victims who knock on Kemp's door, she still goes the extra mile to ensure that they are attended to, by referring them to other havens. "There are many victims around us, and that is why I decided to open the safe house, because I don't want people to remain victims forever," Kemp said, smiling.
She admits that it is hard, as those who seek her help stand in need of much. For this reason, Kemp decided to start her own soup kitchen. "On a given day, approximately 300 people arrive here wanting something to eat," she explains, sadly. "There have been times where people arrive late, because they have to walk so far just to have a meal. I cannot turn them away, so I whip up whatever I can to make sure everyone is fed."
Funding and sponsorships are often insufficient to feed the magnitude who rely on Kemp, but this has not deterred her from her goal. She has given up even more of her personal space, as her front yard is now teeming with plastic and glass bottles, that she recycles weekly. "At most I earn R300 a week from the recyling, but every bit helps. The community have been very supportive with the recycling and donations," she beams. "I am very passionate about this community. Despite circumstances, they are always looking for ways to better themselves."
To Kemp it is utterly important that her community preserves the goodness it has. She feels that she can help with this preservation by mainting safety. She does so by fulfilling her duties as the Deputy Chairperson of the Bethelsdorp Crime Prevention Forum (CPF). "We patrol these streets; putting our own lives in danger to keep others safe."
For Kemp all these tasks are just in a day's work, but to the community she is a pillar. They have recognised her love for serving, by awarding her for all her efforts. In 2015, she won the Fortuin Northern Community Star Award for the best CPF member and Best Soup Kitchen. In 2016, she again received the award for the Best Soup Kitchen.
Although Kemp appreciates the acclaim she receives from the community, she does not allow this to be the driving force behind what she does. Asked if she will ever tire from her many tasks she laughed and said:
"No. I have the heart of a giver...and that will never change."