Eastern Cape food parcel initiatives saving lives every day

A group of Phumlani residents receiving food parcels from One Africa Organisation
A group of Phumlani residents receiving food parcels from One Africa Organisation
Image: Supplied

Those who have the capacity must do what they can for those who are struggling to make ends meet during the national lockdown.

This is a view shared by those who have made the effort to help people who are battling to survive.

The lockdown officially started at midnight on March 26. It rendered some people jobless, and many others could not continue with their lives as they were before.

Individuals, organisations, churches and the government have made huge efforts in donating food parcels to those in need during this period.

There is no end in sight yet to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  While those who can are continuing to offer relief, they have made a call for continued support.

In East London, Feed a Family, an organisation whose mission is to help feed people, has been providing cooked meals since before the lockdown started.

Simone Klaasen, a member of the team, said they had tried to ensure that nobody went to bed on an empty stomach.

The initiative is funded through private donations.

“On Madiba Day [July 18, Nelson Mandela’s birthday], there were over 3,000 people that we fed. We have been raising funds and doing our best to feed people. We are going to start developing vegetable gardens to help our communities now. R30 goes a long way to feed a child. All we want is to bring change. Hearing a story that people went to bed hungry is sad. We all deserve a better life,” she said.

Simphiwe Botile, 40, of Phumlani village in East London, had no food in his cupboard for four days last week.

The artist, a founder of Botile Traditional Group, depends on handouts from neighbours for food.

He was one of 40 people to receive food parcel donations on Friday from the One Africa organisation. It was the first time Botile had received a donation.

His situation is not isolated. His dancers have been out of work since the lockdown started.

“The savings I had ran out. I don’t know where I will get food when this donation runs out. Life has been a struggle for my family. I truly appreciate what the organisation did for me,” he said.

The OR Tambo business chamber donated food parcels in April to hawkers in the district when the street vendors were out of business due to the lockdown. They banded together and raised more than R110,000.

Chamber secretary Andile Nontso also donated food parcels through his Andile Nontso Foundation to caddies and workers at the Mthatha Health Club.

“What is important is that food parcels are given to people in the right order, and that politicians are removed from administering them. There is speculation that they give parcels to their constituents. People must be given vouchers and black businesses should be involved in that to boost the economy,” he said.

“We stood up to help because we saw their plight. My business has been closed since March, but we need to do what we can to help those less fortunate.”

Retired teacher Gideon Sam, a former vice-president of the Commonwealth Games Federation,  facilitated the Phumlani village donation after approaching One Africa, based in the Western Cape for help.

“One Africa is open for people to apply [for relief]. I’m also chasing another donation to ensure that we help people where possible. It is critical that those of us who have the means and the connections raise some kind of resources to help to those in need,” Gideon said.

Zukiswa Kolisi from Mooiplaas said: “I received a water tank filled with water, learning materials for my preschool and food from Gift of the Givers two weeks ago. For me that means the world. I did not have these things.” - DispatchLIVE  


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