A local Melville resident was deeply saddened to see the state of the Mealie Lady’s trolley, so he decided to build her a brand new one!
Melville, South Africa (26 January 2020) – She can be seen almost daily, shuffling along the streets of South Africa, hunched over her trolley, shouting ‘MEALIES, MEALIES’, her throaty call echoing all around the neighbourhood.
The “Mealie Lady” is a title synonymous with the many hard-working women who walk the streets of South Africa selling their fresh produce… and a familiar sight to most South Africans who have grown up with the well-known sound and the delicious farm-fresh Mealies that they sell (Mealies are also known as Mielie in Afrikaans and Corn on the Cob in some parts of the world).
Bettie has been selling Mealies since 1965 and is well known in Melville where she can be seen walking the streets of the neighbourhood every day with her clunky metal trolley.
Over 4 years ago Andre van Jaarsveld – founder of Melkweg Design – met Bettie after hearing her call and making his way outside to buy some of her delicious fresh produce. One of the first things Andre noticed was how her metal trolley looked beaten and broken, running on three wheels with one wheel having almost no rubber on it.
Andre, who works in the wood design field, immediately put pen to paper and started working on a design for a new trolley to make her daily journey easier.
“For the past 30 odd years of my life, I lived it being surrounded and surrounding myself with masterful artists and designers. From this, I rekindled my childhood love for wood and now find myself in a place in which I can live out my passion every working moment of every day.”
Andre’s first trolley was gifted to Bettie in January 2016, but he has updated the design since then and built her two more beautiful trollies. And with each update, he has made her trolley better suited for the roads that she works on, and brighter to make her more visible.
Bettie says that with each new design, she is able to do more business than ever before.
Andre says that he really just wants to help her, to make sure she is able to get more business and make more money.
“I have built her three trollies already, and I plan on building many more till she retires.”
A simple act of kindness, filled with love has made a massive difference in Bettie’s life, and Andre believes that we all have the power to make a positive difference in South Africa.
“Do and make things with perspective and learn empathy. With a big exclamation on empathy!”
**Bettie’s surname is unknown but we have reached out to get her full details.