Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus global crisis.
It’s great to hear that the U.S has started lifting some of the restrictions, and you have been able to enjoy your warmer weather. Here in South Africa, we are still under a very strict lock-down. South Africa’s borders are closed. Domestic travel between provinces is not allowed. People from other countries, particularly high-risk countries like the U.S., are not permitted to enter. The lock-down has recently been lowered from a Level 5 to a Level 4, with hopes of Level 3 to come June 1st. But still, the restrictions are extreme when compared to the U.S. and states like Ohio. They have just allowed restaurants to do takeaway (or carry-out) service. Alcohol and cigarette purchases and consumption are still prohibited. Unless you are an essential business worker, you must stay at home, INSIDE. You may go for a walk or run, but only between the hours of 6 and 9 am. The only other reason we are allowed to leave home is to go to the grocery and pharmacy. Even what you can buy at the supermarket is limited. There is a nightly curfew of 8 pm (which we hope will end come June 1st. If we are caught violating the restrictions, we will be arrested.
Early on, the extreme measures had appeared to be effective in mitigating the number of infections. And health workers were mobilized to go screen and test large areas of the population - systems and experience built through battling the HIV/Aids crisis and the high rate of T.B. And as of May 7th, the country’s number of cases stood only at 8,232. Still, in the last couple of weeks, they have surpassed 20,000 cases.
And the virus is not the only significant problem. Due to the lock-down, the economy is in trouble - granted, as is the rest of the world. But we have some extremely hungry people in the informal settlements. For most, there is no pay from their companies and no aid from the government. Some receive a small stipend of R350 (just under $25) for a month.
We are SO grateful for your ongoing support that allows us to continue paying all of our staff - those that run the feeding program in Soweto, all the preschool staff at Kya Sand preschool, and all the staff involved in the projects in Ndwedwe. It is a tremendous blessing when so many others are going without paychecks. It makes a significant difference in our staff’s lives when they can support their kids and families, when they can buy groceries and keep their families fed.
Before the lock-down, Elizabeth and Rejoice started classes at the Professional Childhood College in Johannesburg. Elizabeth, our school principal at the Kya Sand Preschool, has been taking a course on working with special needs children. She has been doing her practicals working with a young girl, Marilyn, from the community with special needs. Her mother has passed away, and she is being cared for by her step-mom. With school being closed, Elizabeth has been able to spend more time with Marilyn, building into her and supporting her family. And Rejoice is taking an early childhood development skills course. Both continue to work on their studies and turn in assignments during the lock-down. In July, Judith and Busi will start classes as well.
In Ndwedwe, Tembe continues to distribute food from the food pantry and the garden. A couple of weeks ago, we were able to get permission to deliver more groceries and help with some harvesting. You can see from the pictures how well the garden is doing. It has been a blessing to the community. Thandi, who coordinates our Makers Market, cannot get out to Waterfall to work with the ladies, so she has switched over to making masks during the lock-down. With help from Tembe and Simon, we’ve identified the needs of 60 families for whom we have put together food hampers. These food supplies will feed each family for a month. We have also ordered 100 boxes of food from Rise Against Hunger to be delivered next week.
We miss you and all of our teams. Thank you for continuing to support us during this unprecedented time. This crisis is affecting both of our countries. We are praying for you and that it ends soon.
Phillip & Clive
Thank you for your continued support of our mission!
And as always, If you would like to provide financial support, please go to buildthefutureusa.org