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‘Whatever we need — porridge, clothes, medicine — she carries her love like a river’

Sunbeams Share Kindness founder goes ‘to ends of earth’ to assist struggling families

A tender hug shared between tearful Chantell Lombard(left) and her Sunbeam Melanie Niemand (right) who said Lombard's love was like a river.
A tender hug shared between tearful Chantell Lombard(left) and her Sunbeam Melanie Niemand (right) who said Lombard's love was like a river.
Image: ROSA-KAROO LOEWE

Many families with empty cupboards, hungry mouths and broken homes have found sanctuary in the kindness of freelance photographer, biker and mother, Chantel Lombard, 39, from Amalinda. 

Every day, Lombard is up early on school drop-offs for her own two daughters and the “adopted”  families of her NGO, Sunbeams Share Kindness, established in 2021. 

Lombard said: “They are the poorest of the poor. Some people don’t even have IDs and most can’t get a Sassa grant.

“Most are families living in backyard rooms or shared homes.”  

After the school run, Lombard drives through Buffalo City every week to check in on 36 families she assists, to offer spiritual words of encouragement,  emotional support or simply to ask the question, “What do you need?” 

 

DispatchLIVE drove with Lombard to visit the NGO’s beneficiaries, and en route she apologised for the strange odour in her car.

“I’ve just been sorting out donated cheese from the Berea SPAR.

“When they say they have donations, I drop everything and I’m there,” she said. 

She said donated food supplies were collected for monthly food parcels for families in Amalinda, Arcadia, Cambridge, Cove Ridge, Meise’s Halt, Milner Estate and Phillip Frame park. 

“I’ve got this rule, no alcohol, no drugs.

“I sit and talk, go into homes and I see what they need.

“People from Cove Ridge were sleeping in a hole in the ground with just a tent over them.

“People don’t look twice at the hungry and dirty.” 

Lombard has set up five WhatsApp groups for Sunbeams Share Kindness to encourage the act of paying it forward, without paying with cash.

“My Sunbeam families have skills. I wanted them to connect with one another by bartering. If someone is a seamstress and another is a cook, they say, ‘let me fix your clothes and you can make us a meal’.

“Uncle Dion is a plumber, he fixes plumbing or washing machines, and in exchange people offer him what they can, an extra blanket or a haircut.

“The barter system just works, it’s a natural thing.” 

Arriving in Milner Estate, Lombard received a warm welcome from the Wolmarans family, with their two skittish cats and many dogs running around the little wooden home.

Sue Wolmarans, 59, who has two toddlers, said when she met Lombard, she could tell she had a kind heart. 

“Chantel saw how much we struggled. After I spoke with her, all she said was ‘I’ll see you later’.

“I cried on her shoulder when she arrived with two big bags of food.

“She said, ‘from now on, you’ll be one of my Sunbeams’.”

Wolmarans helps the NGO by sorting out clothing donations at Lombard’s home before every “shopping spree”. 

Every three months, Lombard transforms her home into a donation drop-off shop, with shoes, clothes, bedding and household items laid out for families to take what they need. 

“I love to help Chantelle sort out the storage room, it’s always such a mess!” Wolmarans said.

Lombard’s next visit was at the home of Sunbeam member Melanie Niemand, 45, from Saxilby, who cried when she recalled how Lombard had helped her and her family. 

“I ran out of food for my daughter

“Chantelle goes to the ends of the Earth to help her.

“My daughter is in grade 6 and if she needs something, Chantelle will go to her own daughters and through her own cupboards, no questions asked.

“Whatever we need — porridge, clothes, medicine — she carries her love like a river.” 

Niemand was proud of Lombard’s Local Hero nomination, saying she never gave up.

“Everyone gets treated equally, this is an unconditional person who just wants to be there to help.

“She is a private person and says you only need to tell her what you need and she will try to make it happen.” 

DispatchLIVE


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