It is no secret that South Africa has suffered extraordinarily during lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions. Of course, the entire world was affected by the pandemic and economic fallout.
For South Africa however, the already precarious position the country was in before Covid-19 wreaked more havoc, meant an increase in the already very high unemployment rate, increased hunger and unfortunately an increase in crime. Businesses disappeared, more and more beggars filled the streets and many families were left without food.
Ubuntu, how South Africans pulled together
One silver lining has been the coming together of all communities to help those in need. In the true South African spirit of Ubuntu, community organizations and leaders, non-profit organizations and private citizens, in groups and individually, collected and distributed supplies and food all over the country.
The acts of kindness shown were no small thing given how almost everyone’s household income was affected by lockdown and various restrictions.
Jewish Community Outreach – the Jewish National Fund (JNF)
The JNF has existed in South Africa since 1901. JNF has an eco-outreach project in Mamelodi: the Mamelodi Greening project. During the pandemic the JNF ran two successful projects, distributing food and more recently distributing trees.
Planting trees in Israel is what the JNF is known for within the Jewish Community, which highlights the philanthropic nature of this project. The mother organization of the JNF, Keren Kayemet Leyisrael (KKL), generously sponsored the trees. Fruit-bearing trees (various fruit, olive and willow trees) were distributed to the Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre (WSEC).
Orna Toeg of KKL, Riaan Visser of WSEC, and Africans For Peace’s Klaas Masilo (who conducted a tree-planting course for the recipients) were instrumental in making this happen.
Muslim Community Outreach – Islamic Relief SA
South African cricket commentator and former international cricketer Jean-Paul Duminy, known as JP Duminy, joined Islamic Relief South Africa (IRSA) in collaboration with Awqaf SA’s ‘Share-The-Care’ Campaign, to distribute food hampers and face masks in Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and Century City, in the Western Cape.
According to IRSA, Duminy stated “As the founder of the JP 21 Foundation we have been involved in the Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha communities for over 5 years, and COVID has kicked us all down in some way and therefore we have partnered with Awqaf SA to be part of the processes of helping to save lives.”
Mamelodi Baptist Church
Despite being under enormous financial strain due to lockdown, Mamelodi Baptist Church has still managed to give breakfast and lunch to hundreds of people every day. They have done so since 9th December 2019 when, due to flooding, the church took in around 60 people who lost their homes. During the lockdown the numbers of people needing assistance increased.
Churches throughout the country suffered during lockdown, especially in rural areas where church-goers tend to give cash donations in person. Nevertheless, Mamelodi Baptist Church managed to continue to support its community.
FoodForward SA Outreach
FoodForward SA brings excess food to the needy by recovering quality, surplus food from the consumer goods supply chain and distributing it to community organisations which serve the poor.
They have stated: “Since the start of lock down (within 7 months), we have been able to distribute 5,600 tons of food, amounting to 22,4 million meals, to vulnerable communities across the country. Thank you donors!”
According to FoodForward SA’s recent Covid-19 update: “a recent survey found that one in three adults go to bed hungry because of unemployment and the subsequent loss of income. Fear, depression and discouragement are beginning to set in for many as social distress leaves them hopeless.” FoodForward SA is now supporting more than 1,000 Beneficiary Organisations (BOs), reaching nearly 500,000 vulnerable people directly (and an estimated 1,5 million people indirectly) with food parcels to households.
South Africa’s True Colours
These are just a handful of examples showing the spirit of the nation of South Africa. From individuals giving supplies out their car windows to those begging at traffic lights, to groups of people mobilizing within their social circles, to community organizations, large non-profits and companies feeding people and distributing much-needed supplies, it is clear that South Africa’s famed friendliness and kindness are intact.