The COVID-19 pandemic stretched our abilities and resources to the nth degree! Not sure of how we could help, we became a little thrown by the various needs of the communities we generally serve and those beyond that. We became chameleons and found ourselves helping in areas we never thought we had the capacity to do.
During this time our transparency and kindness in all we do became blatantly apparent. Time to hold hands with other organisations, a time when all NPO’s and NGO’s were united in a common cause.
Here’s how we flexed and served as best we could:
We heard the rumblings in the media of a virus that was about to take the world by storm but nothing prepared us for what was actually about to happen.
It was business as usual until we got word via President Cyril Ramaphosa about the severity of the pandemic and that a national lockdown was to happen. We were advised to stay at home and if we ventured out to wear facemasks and wash our hands often and use sanitizer with 70% alcohol to help deter the spread and protect ourselves ….
While we all holed ourselves up and waited for the onslaught, we got word from Yvonne Phogole, one of our board members that we were nearing month end and social grant and shopping queues were going to be an issue as there was no PPE available to the social workers either.
Social workers were now having to visit vulnerable homes to hand out food parcels and to check on the health and wellbeing of people in their areas. Yvonne asked if we could provide the social workers in Region A with fabric masks. Of course we made a plan… no fabric shops open to buy material from so we put out an appeal to all home seamstresses we know to try and lay our hands on fabric. We were surprised at the donations we received.
The biggest challenge was elastic! For the first time in the history of needlework did it become such a sought after commodity. We were on our way… Word got out we were handing our masks free of charge and our funds took a pounding! We approached out regular donor base and they generously gave us some funding to produce almost 3000 masks. We used out of work seamstresses, church congregants and anyone who had time and a sewing machine.
The beauty of this project is that family members got involved and supported the seamstresses by cutting out pieces of fabric and lining, folding and pinning the pleats and ironing the masks when they were done. We supplied an entire high school and primary school in the Northwest Province with fabric masks. From Grade1 to Matric. Of course not forgetting the staff of 60 educators and support staff. The project gained huge traction and is still ongoing.
Dawon ZA (Pty) Ltd contacted us and initially offered us 25 000 Masks to be distributed to where the need is most. Our board being the activists they are immediately found a mix of rural and city schools, clinics, old age homes, children’s homes, homes for those with special needs and as we call it, random acts of kindness i.e. shop keepers, petrol attendants, transport companies, construction workers and the list goes on … thankfully, Dawon appreciated our efforts and offered us a consignment of 50 000 this time.
When the call came through to Cynthia she almost fell off the chair! No problem, we have places for these masks and again, massive push to get the masks out and keep communities safe.
So we allocated all the masks, and there was on school in rural KZN that needed help, Cynthia approached DAWON and asked if it was at all possible to get another 2000 masks for this school.
Not long after the request was made, fabulous news arrived, another 50 000! Well that’s like heart attack happiness! Our board members travelled far and wide to make sure the masks were delivered to the end users, not just the institution … some schools could not thank us enough and spontaneously broke out into the Jerusalema dance routine! Thank you DAWON, thank you for the donation that is keeping our various communities safe.
Soup Kitchen Support
Lockdown continued—people were hungry and – many of the friends of kindness corporation wanted to help somehow and approached us to offer their services in supplying pots of soup for hungry bellies.
As we don’t operate soup kitchens ourselves, we reached out to our fellow NGO’s and NPO’s to offer assistance.
We, the ladies cooking, said that we would launch our own perfume range called “POT O SOUP” … vegetable, chicken and split pea would be the options … good to have a laugh when things are so out of control!
While doing all of this, we adhered to all the lockdown measures except one .. We ask for forgiveness… when we were told to stop supplying cooked food for the hungry, we ignored it … sorry we do apologise for our non-compliance. You may ask how we got the soup to the kitchens from our various homes, meet Mandla our taxi operator who had a permit to move around within certain hours … he became the soup taxi!
Here again, an out of work self-employed person benefited from our arrangements. Soon our cookers had to return to work and the project came to an end but in our hearts we know we all made a difference to aid and assist where we possibly could. Estimated we produced around 800 litres of soup. Organizations we supported were Jacks Place in Malvern and MES Soup Kitchen in Yeoville.
Our approach to food parcels is a little different to the norm. No mass handouts no long queues and minimizing risk to both the donors and recipients.
Our networking with social workers on an ongoing basis has solidified the relationship and when we decided on providing these, we partnered with the Department of Social Development in both Alex and Ivory Park as well as the Red Cross.
Targeting various pockets within the communities, we zone in on specific needs and try to bring relief where possible. We have been entrusted to produce parcels by schools, churches, general donors and companies.
We tailor the parcels to the needs of the intended recipients and then the hard negotiations take place. We’ve built up our own relationships with chain stores and wholesalers who come to the party so to say.
Our reputation for getting the parcels delivered to the intended recipients is what sets us apart. We document every step and keep our donors informed as to the progress. We constantly get requests from social workers to assist with ad hoc parcels which we do gladly. They motivate the cases via Yvonne Phogole and the board supports the cases.
Rosemary Mvulane, who undertakes our counselling services works with specific cases where food parcels are needed and in some cases, even pet food. Thankfully we have generous donors who respond to the various appeals we put out. And once again, when we couldn’t get into the townships, our taxi driver Mandla came to our rescue!
One of the more interesting groups we supported were 14 pregnant ladies who are looked after by a male social worker. These ladies needed help during the lockdown period and Kindness Corporation stepped up. Blankets, vests, nappies, babygrows and a nutritious food parcels were put together.
This group supported one another through the difficult times and are now proud Moms. The care continues. Another case, a Mom gave birth to triplets! Three little girls. Here again, the call came for assistance and our donor base supported the young family with clothing and formula.
Jars / Packs of Hope / Clothing
As the pandemic rages on and jobs are lost and hunger escalates, we have now decided to assist in any quick way we can to assist social workers serve communities of people with at least one or two meals at a time. The jars are prepacked in recycled peanut butter jars and contain the following: rice OR pasta , soup mix, lentils, stock, soya and soup powder.
Depending on how much water is added, it could be used as a soup for six people or a stew for four people. Our initial handout was 50 jars to a community of elderly people in Ivory Park.
Along with the jars, we have laundered, packed and labelled used clothing that we have received. The clothing is presented in a dignified way to the community and they can select what they would need for themselves or for children in their care. Again our principle, we don’t dump, we donate ….
A very welcome surprise donations from Smymans Attorneys bolstered out initiative greatly and we are humbled by the fact that we were entrusted to distribute these meal packs with the dignity and kindness it deserves. Just when we thought we would only have a minimal 50 jars another 400 packs arrive!
Warm tracksuits -23 children & 40 parcels for infants
The plight of adults is heart wrenching enough but when young children are vulnerable it strikes a chord in everyone’s hearts. We received information that amongst the seniors group we work with, there were seniors looking after young children and in some cases orphans and children just arriving at their doors! Their pensions are used to feed whole families and with the winter being a particularly cold one, some of these children were wearing clothing way too small for them and some in a really poor condition.
We put the word out for 15 tracksuits in varying sizes from 2—12 years … We thankfully received more than we asked for, in total 23 so some extra children benefited as well. The tracksuits were handed out in a dignified orderly way as our social workers always do and the seniors were extremely grateful for the assistance. We received a large donation of baby clothes, nappies and formula after we put out an appeal for assistance.
The Red Cross approached us for assistance with a group of young Moms who were battling in the early lockdown days. Second hand but almost new baby clothing was sorted into parcels of 3 baby grows and two vests, with a warm jersey or jackets to top it off. We managed to package 40 sets. The nappy donations we also split up into sizes to make it easier to hand out for the social workers. Once again, the donations reached the intended community and hopefully we made a difference in our small way.
Breeding ground for mental illness …. Rosemary Mvulane who heads up our counselling service has been very busy during lockdown. The cases come via our donor base or amongst the social workers. Rosemary has proven that her years of working on the ground in various communities has given her all the tools she needs to deal the pandemic challenged head on! One of the ladies visited by Rosemary has become a friend of Kindness Corporation and has in turn paid it forward with warm scarves, crochet blankets and other sewing projects.
Kindness in all that we do …