Citizen award ‘will open doors’

Shaanaaz de Jager

SHE has battled in the past to scrape together donations, but being named The Herald GM Citizen of the Year 2013 is set to change that for Nelson Mandela Bay mother Alida Davis.

Davis, 56, was named the Bay’s top citizen at a glitzy function at the Athenaeum in Central, Port Elizabeth, on Friday.

“At the awards evening people came to me and gave me their business cards and said they have food they’ll donate,” an elated Davis said at her Uitenhage home yesterday.

“I used to walk for donations and some people even thought I was running a scam. This award will open doors for me.”

Davis, a mother of four, and her husband Johann have fostered 27 children over the past 15 years. They now have five foster children in their care.

It is for this – fostering children – and her other initiatives to help the poor and destitute in Uitenhage that Davis won.

The breast cancer survivor runs a soup kitchen from her Harper Street home six days a week and hands out other food at the John Street sports field on Saturdays. She also runs Underprivileged Children’s Ministries and is registered as a place of safety in case of emergencies.

KwaLanga resident Ncedo Kasibe, 30, is among those who benefits from Davis’s good deeds. She said Davis always did her best for anyone who knocked on her door.

“She not only gives us food but inspires us. She inspired me to get my driver’s licence. I have my learner’s permit now but will try for my code 10 licence,” Kasibe said.

Another beneficiary, Warren Arries, 19, of Kabah, said Davis provided more than just a meal.

“She teaches the children about manners and respecting their elders. We also don’t just eat here, we also play cricket,” he said.

Davis’s housekeeper, Katy Reyners, 40, who helps her prepare the food, said winning the title was “very beautiful”.

“We do our best for everyone. We feed up to 400 to 450 children and adults daily,” Reyners said.

And back at the Davis residence yesterday, the family were just as proud of their role model.

Daughter Celeste Davis, 36, said she hoped the title would open doors for her mother.

“My mother has been doing this for many years. I am very proud of her. She deserves the recognition,” she said.

Foster daughter Bianca Potgieter, 18, said Davis meant everything to her.

“She has helped me make jewellery and I find her inspiring,” she said.

Husband Johann, 62, said he hoped other people would become more aware of what his wife was doing and what else needed to be done in communities.

“Just this morning [yesterday] I drove in the community and it makes me feel bitter to see these children dirty. If we don’t do this who will?” he said.

Leslie-Ann Gilbert, 53, who nominated Davis, said it had not been an easy road for Davis, who “gets her hands dirty and does what is needed”.

“Some neighbours did not support the idea that underprivileged children and adults were coming into their neighbourhood to collect food and clothes,” she said.

“This award has been affirming for her to show people that what she does is being recognised as community service.”

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