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Helping Hand gives old clothes a second life

Local Hero nominee Noloyiso Ngamntwini distributes donated items to the needy

When people see the laden grey bakkie approaching, they know help is behind the wheel. 

Pensioner Noloyiso Ngamntwini, 61, from Mdantsane or lovingly known as “Mama Makhapiti” said: “How many underprivileged families are suffering when our garages and cupboards are filled with things we aren’t using?

“I knew this was not good. I must not stop, I must continue.”

Ngamntwini was told about the desperate prayers of a woman coming from a shack and felt propelled by God to help. 

Her friend was out jogging at dawn and every morning would hear a woman praying from inside a broken and ramshackle structure.

The woman inside the hovel would always end off her prayer with “I know you, Lord, you have not forgotten me.”

The friend posted on Facebook pleading for help from the community. 

A group of friends and members agreed to meet the next day at the shack to find out what was happening and see what they could do.

Recalling the visit, Ngamntwini said: “It was very bad. There was no food, nothing was there. The bed was made of small water drums, cardboard, dirty old rugs, and blankets.

“There was a small table with a gas cooker. That was all. She looked like she was 61, like me.” 

Soon, using social media, the word got out and provisions started pouring in. 

“I was the only one with a bakkie so I picked up all the things. We brought clothes, I fetched her a fridge from Qonce, a cupboard and a microwave from Potsdam, and a TV in Mdantsane.

“We left her with a better shack.” 

With the help of her bakkie, Ngamntwini knew she could keep the donations coming. 

She established Mdantsane Helping Hand as an NGO in 2020 but the name soon changed to include the larger BCM area. 

“I had many people from Qonce asking for clothes; students who were going to university in Bloemfontein or to WSU in town.

“I pick up the donated clothes and invite people through Facebook to come and look.

“I also attend to individuals; they come and I give them a chance to check their sizes.” 

The clothing drive is hosted weekly at different locations or in her front yard. 

Helping Hand co-ordinates through WhatsApp, with 56 volunteers; the Facebook page has 523 members.

“I get clothes from people in Mdantsane, Scenery Park, Beacon Bay and as far as Qonce.

“I give clothes because I believe in God and I’ve seen how happy people are to see what I’m doing. Many families have benefited.”

Black bags filled with second-hand clothing and shoes are collected and stored in her garage. 

She encourages community members to come to the clothing drive and choose items for their families in their style, needs and sizes. 

Many leave with heaped bags. 

With donations piling up, she said a major challenge was space. 

“Right now I’m using my garage for donations and am in need of a container or storage space to hold it all.” 

The operation relies heavily on the grey bakkie that transports bags of clothing and furniture to those in need.

The vehicle was involved in an accident earlier this year after Ngamntwini’s nephew was picking up clothing donations. He was safe, but the vehicle was not so lucky. 

The bakkie’s body was damaged including both doors and bumpers.

The windscreen cracked, three airbags no longer operate. Mirrors and taillights were smashed, the passenger seatbelt no longer works and the step up to the drivers door broke off.

She said: “The three parts on the right would cost me more than R8,000 if I get second-hand parts but I was unable to.

“The bakkie was totally damaged but the engine survived. It will never be the same.

I depend on my old age pension and small businesses for funding. I have a printer for CVs and photocopies.

But ink is too expensive, one small cartridge is R1,400.”

Ngamntwini assisted flood victims earlier this year with food from her own supply. 

“I cooked samp and mielies from my own cupboard..”

Ngamntwini said that the NPO was well known and growing larger than she could handle.

“I cannot stop now. I am no longer asking for clothes, they call me to come and fetch them. If I say I’m tired — uh uh I have to go and fetch. 

She was overjoyed by the Local Hero Nomination.  

“I was so happy, people were saying ‘Mama Makhapiti we nominated you’ and sending me screenshots.

 

DispatchLIVE received 16 nominations from separate individuals nominating her as their Local Hero. 

Her neighbour and nominee, Veronica Felani said Ngamntwini was also helping the community with skill building in addition to the clothing drive. 

Felani said: “She is the helping hand in this area. She works with people who are poor and suffering. I wanted to so something for her.” 

DispatchLIVE

 


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