Bethlegem Bakery is a non-profit venture founded in 2014 aimed at empowering local individuals, communities and established organizations. Our core belief that something as everyday and humble as bread can affect meaningful change was translated into a community baking operation named simply Bethlegem. The name was chosen as it is means “House of Bread” in Hebrew, reflecting the core activity of the organization while also reinforcing the safety, comfort and warmth a home offers. True to the Biblical origin of its name, Bethlegem signifies hope and future security.
In South Africa many individuals and families struggle to find employment and are unable to feed themselves on an everyday basis – becoming increasingly reliant on charity projects or government support for their survival. For most of these individuals and families their staple diet consists of bread. Providing food and support for these communities remains a critical objective for all of us with the ability to assist where needed and share what we can.
“Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.” – Nikoli Berdyaev
There are willing and able individuals in the community who continuously try to find employment but struggle to do so due to various circumstances such as lack of further education and transportation. Bethlegem sought to help these individuals from day one. Candidates were identified and trained as bakers, giving a strong skill set along with the offer of employment from our bakery.
By uplifting individuals who in turn help others through their work we believe this incremental development can have a sustained impact on impoverished communities, even if it is one pair of hands and loaf of bread at a time. As the well known proverb states give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime Bethlegem has proved give a man a bread and you feed him for a day; teach a man to bake and you feed him for a lifetime.
This model has proven itself as over the past five years Bethlegem has grown to train and employ an additional two bakers as well as purchasing our own delivery vehicle, increasing the amount of bread we can bake in a day while also lowering delivery costs and time constraints for our community partners.
Through our ongoing involvement with various community driven care projects we have identified the pressing need children in need have for high quality, vitamin rich and filling daily bread. This inspired us to develop a superfood muffin, packed with Moringa and fresh fruit and vegetables that can offer each child a considerable part of their daily dietary requirements.
Whenever Bethlegem, and what it means to people, is discussed faces beam and smiles are shared. The team members live out the sense of community Bethlegem strives to embody and communicate outwards through every day bread. “It means a lot to work here because we gain a lot of experience” says Lettie Tsabalala “We learned everything here – they’re very nice and we work as a team”.
Bethlegem is a place where a community becomes family by breaking and sharing bread with one another.
At Bethlegem everyone works together and we are all equal, every hand helps the other in serving the community and carrying a message of hope. In Jan Niemand Park, where the bakery is situated, many residents have lost hope in the future and finding sustainable work and daily food- the entire team at Bethlegem believes that the message of hope, grace and love that goes out with every loaf of bread is the highest goal we can strive to achieve.
A core member that has brought this vision to fruition is Ds Danie van Rensburg of the Dutch Reformed Church Jan Niemand Park, where the Bethlegem Bakery is situated. “Bethlegem means more than just bread. The story of Naomi and Ruth reminds us that it means hope and security for the future as well,” says van Rensburg. “The entire project is a sign of God’s grace” he continues.
The objectives of our organization are:
- To supply bread via existing NGOs and support groups to various deserving individuals and families.
- To provide job opportunities to willing and able individuals who live in these deserving communities.
- The facilitation of skills training for individuals who wish to qualify themselves in the baking industry.
- Enabling the community to generate funds from this operation by supplying baked goods to organizations.
Some of Our Clients
Grounded @ Echo
Grounded @ Echo is a socially responsible business in partnership with ECHO Youth Development (NPO) situated in the humble neighbourhood of The Moot in the city of Tshwane. They started out as a community café in 2014, and have since expanded to include a coworking space, catering services, and most importantly a whole community of people who believe in a better way of doing business and life.
ECHO Youth Development is a registered non-profit organization founded in 2001 to provide a support system for vulnerable youth in South-Africa. High School Youth and Young Adults from different cultures live together in 13 houses, called Echo Communities. They are based in Pretoria but there are also smaller ECHO Communities in Johannesburg, Centurion and Cape Town. ECHO Youth Development hosts weekly youth programs and free counselling services at a number of schools.
Jacaranda Children’s Home
Jakaranda Children’s Home cares for 200 children who are placed in their care by the Children’s Court. Jacaranda Children’s Home provides the children with therapy, medical care and a lovely home, where they can feel safe and loved. Their goal is to provide each child with the necessary skills they will need to become responsible adults.
Vergenoeg for Seniors is a retirement home with various facilities including 24 hour medical care as well as 40 houses and 84 apartments for retirees to call home.
Huis Herfsblaar is a retirement home situated in Queenswood, Pretoria, that has given a home and purpose to retirees for 35 years. With various facilities and 24 hour care this facility is a pillar of the local community.
The President Kruger Children’s home in Pretoria looks after 126 children from the ages of two to 18 years of age. All the children are placed in the care of the home by the courts which means that all of the residents in this home have known extreme poverty, abuse, trauma, neglect or physical abuse in their young lives. The staff of the home do all they can to provide everything a growing child needs.