Sisters feed the needy

Family and friends of Audrey Booysen had a Feed the Needy drive in honour of her memory. From left are Shahiema Samaai, Sumaya Abrahams, Karen Albertyn, Christine Abrahams and Ruwayda Salie.

Sisters of the late Audrey Booysen, who died nine months ago from breast cancer, honoured her memory with a ‘”Feed the Needy” drive in the city centre on Workers’ Day last week.

The sisters, Karen Albertyn, Shahiema Samaai, Sumaya Abrahams and Asma Diedericks, all dressed in pink, worn to show moral support for women with breast cancer, prepared 600 rolls, juices as well as sweets and lollipops, to hand out to street people and children in spaces around the city centre, including the Streetscape Gardens, the Grand Parade, Bo-Kaap and at the Castle of Good Hope. The sisters also adorned the food stand with pink and white balloons and a picture of Audrey.

The day was also a celebration of their mother, Bo-Kaap resident Kathleen Booysen’s 86th birthday on the same day.

And while Kathleen survived breast cancer 35 years ago, her youngest daughter sadly did not.

Ms Samaai said the idea to feed the needy came from an idea to have a family lunch before Ramadaan, which started this week.

“Sumaya remembered that Audrey died nine months ago, and to celebrate, we wanted to have a big lunch, but then we also decided we wanted to give back, so we decided to hold this feeding drive for people who are less fortunate.”

The sisters were reluctant to appear in the newspaper because “what you give with the right hand, the left hand doesn’t need to know.”

They said they were not doing it for the publicity, but to honour their sister.

Ms Albertyn, who is from Rocklands in Mitchell’s Plain, said she was very close to her sister, and cried as she described Audrey. “She had a good spirit – always had a nice way about her. It’s so unfair that this happened.”

Ms Samaai pointed to the picture of a smiling Audrey: “This was how she was – she always had a smile on her face no matter what she went through.”

Ms Albertyn said: “Our baby sister’s life was cut short. She knew as she spoke to God He listened. So we commemorate – in blessing us to have had the opportunity to have grown with her, to have known and to have shared 49 years with her.”

Ms Samaai said her mom was a very strong woman, and had also suffered from cancer. Their father, Aubrey, had also died of cancer. “Audrey’s cancer was very aggressive. Within two weeks of her going to hospital, she died.”

Audrey is survived by her three children and six siblings.

Ms Abrahams said it was very hard for them, but their mother prepared them for what was to come. “We always tried to remain positive. It was very hard for my mother to bury her baby.”

The sisters said the food drive gesture actually comes from their mother, who always taught them to give.

“She is 86 years old, but still goes to the old-age home where she lives in Bo-Kaap to help feed the elderly.”

They said they would like to do more food drives in future.

Nicholas Booysen and Sydney Minaar were among those who received rolls and cooldrinks.

“We were looking for food when someone came to tell us about these ladies. We didn’t know where we were going to get food today because the city centre is quiet due to the holiday. They saved our lives.”