Lowering the cries of the hungry

“We are all people and your suffering is my suffering.”

This is how principal leader of the Griqua Royal Council in the Eastern Cape, Joseph Kreeling, describes his motivation to serve others.

The East London resident has been an active traditional leader on the Griqua Royal Council for the past eight years.

He also serves as the deputy chair of Contralesa in the Buffalo City Metro.

Though his daily duties involve empowering and uplifting communities, Kreeling, 58, sees serving others as his passion.

“We, the Griqua Royal Council, aim to preserve and develop our indigenous history, languages and cultures we have lost during the previous regimes.

“Our goal is to empower our local previously disadvantaged youth with business skills and various opportunities to restore their hope and self-worth.

“Contralesa BCM aims to bring social cohesion and stability among all cultural groups and build unity in the spirit of ubuntu.”

Kreeling said he had been aware of the suffering of others from a young age.

“I felt compelled to help and see that the dignity of our people gets restored.”

Kreeling has often taken up the struggles of the voiceless and those who cannot fight for themselves.

He, along with other traditional leaders,  spent much of 2019 fighting to improve the conditions in which the East London Zoo animals were kept.

“I am a humanitarian and an animal activist and fight for the voiceless,” Kreeling said.

“I spent 11 days in a cage during 2019 with our group of Khoi and San animal activists on a vegan diet, peacefully protesting for the transformation of the East London Zoo for the betterment of the caged animals.” 

During the coronavirus lockdown, the Griqua Royal Council team set up the “Humanitarian Wing” feeding scheme, which has helped to feed needy households in East London, King William’s Town, Stutterheim and Komani.

“At the beginning of lockdown we took a conscious decision, knowing the danger of the virus and negative ripple effects it had on the people, to step out of our comfort zone and serve as widely as possible in an attempt to lower the cries for hunger and bring hope to our communities,” Kreeling said.

“Being an East London Rotarian, I approached the RCEL humanitarian department and it all escalated from there with their support.

“From our office we created a database of donors who we partnered with — [organisations and] companies like Gift of the Givers, Agri SA, eNCA Lunch box, Rise Against Hunger and our local Blue Ribbon bakery.

“These organisations donated huge numbers of food parcels.

“We then created a database of beneficiaries for equal and effective distribution.

“Most of our NPOs, feeding schemes and church leaderships were assisted.

“During the month of June we distributed over 5,000 food parcels to families in need.”

He said though he led the project, none of it would have been possible without the Griqua Humanitarian Wing team, which includes chiefs Damian Delaney, Japhta Maarman, Paul Aiken, Julio Hendricks and Christo Ruiters.

“I want to thank the Griqua Humanitarian Wing team, who diligently assisted me.

“The most rewarding feeling is knowing that a single mother has something to feed her kids with or an elderly person will sleep with a full meal so they can take their medication.”

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