Open Door Centre hopes to back Zimbabwean breakfast club

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 January 2017

Mark and Dorcas distributing food to the children

Mark and Dorcas distributing food to the children


An Exmouth lifeline is supporting an African project to feed hungry children, set up by a former homeless drug addict who has become an ‘inspiration’ for turning his life around.

The Open Door Community CaféThe Open Door Community Café

In 2004, Mark Nicholson arrived at Exmouth’s Open Door Centre, homeless and an addict. Some three years later, following a successful stay in rehab, he completely turned his life around; he moved to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where he married Dorcas and together they have welcomed 11 children into their family.

After the couple was approached by the local school when a boy collapsed from malnutrition – Mark and Dorcas fed him and gave him food to take home to his three brothers, who were all living in abject poverty – they set up a breakfast club for youngsters, after learning seven children had collapsed with hunger at school within a three-week period.

The Open Door Centre has pledged to support Mark’s efforts to help others, by launching a scheme for customers buying breakfast at the Church Street premises, to donate 50p to the Breakfast Club project.

Helen Tribble, projects director at Open Door, said: “We think Mark is a real inspiration. The way he has turned his life around since coming to us in 2004 is just incredible.

“Mark remains a close friend of many people who were involved with Open Door when he first came to us for help, so we are always happy to welcome him back to hear how he’s getting on.”

Helen added: “We purposely keep our prices low at Open Door, so we hope that many of our customers will feel able to give back by adding the 50p donation. It will of course be entirely optional with no pressure to, just an option if people want to.

“Based on our current sales, we hope to be able to raise around £50 per month to send to Mark and Dorcas, which I know will make a real difference to them and to the many children they are supporting.”

Mark and Dorcas sought permission from the education and health authorities, and then asked the teachers to identify children who weren’t being fed in the morning.

They were expecting to feed 20 to 30 children. On the first day, they fed 82 youngsters.

The project has now grown and Mark and Dorcas feed 157 children every day through The Breakfast Club. It costs the couple £510 per month. They get some support from UK-based charity, the Seeway Trust, and from some donors in Zimbabwe and in Exmouth, but funds received don’t currently cover their costs.

For more information about Mark and Dorcas, see

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