Bringing some hope and warmth to Khayelitsha

The global COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns have enhanced the plight of families living in poverty. With another cold winter edging closer, the 6th Rondebosch Rover Crew organised a mass donation drive of clothing, bedding and food to assist people residing in Site B of the Khayelitsha Township in Cape Town.

“Prior to the South African lockdown that commenced on the 27th of March 2020, millions of people living in disadvantaged communities were already suffering. Since lockdown, many have no means to provide for themselves or their families” says Rover and project coordinator Jóhann Harzon. “Rovers are the young adult branch of Scouting. Our main purpose is to be of ‘service’ to our communities”, he clarifies.

“As the 6th Rondebosch Rover Crew we wanted to make life a little bit easier for vulnerable families during these difficult times. So, taking into consideration the lockdown regulations, we looked for a way to help. We engaged with community leaders and individuals involved in relief efforts and were introduced to Linda Mafuna. Linda is a local resident of Site B Khayelitsha and started a soup kitchen from her home to help people in her area. After discussing the needs of her community with her, our Rover Crew quickly went to work. We couldn’t fund activities ourselves, so decided to orchestrate a donation drive.”

“From the 1st to the 15th of May our call for donations brought in enough ingredients to serve over 450 individuals a nutritious plate of food”, explains 6th Rondebosch Scout Group’s Rover Scouter John Fraser.Over 2000 articles of 2nd hand clothing and bedding were collected. It was overwhelming to see the sheer generosity of people in a time of need! The items we received amount to an estimated retail value of R500 000.”

It was overwhelming to see the sheer generosity of people in a time of need

On Saturday the 16th of May the Rovers from 6th Rondebosch, together with peers from around Cape Town, spent the day at Linda’s soup kitchen. “There were 22 Rovers and adult volunteers present who cooked and served 467 meals”, continued Jóhann. “The left-over ingredients were donated to the soup kitchen. Earlier in the day we handed out 105 masks, which were generously made by the Pinelands CAN Mask Makers. Due to the volume of people in desperate need of warm clothing and bedding, it was decided that Linda and her team would systematically hand out the items throughout the week. We would then return the next Saturday to hand out the remainder of the items.”

So on Sunday the 24th of May, 10 Rovers and volunteers returned to Site B Khayelitsha to distribute the remainder of the clothing and bedding. An additional 50 food parcels were also handed out to local families.

Responding to the Facebook post of the project, Linda Mafuna stated “Wow, I don’t even know where to begin and how to thank you enough. It feels like saying thank you is not enough but the man above knows how grateful we are and he will bless everyone involved. Thank you for choosing our kitchen and donating to the community. All of you guys have made a huge difference. Thank you so much.”

“Being able to help others was both fulfilling and rewarding”, says Jóhann “It was also a harsh wake up call. I realised how privileged we are to be able to protect ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given their living conditions, social distancing is impossible for the community of Site B Khayelitsha. I am conscious of the fact that short term projects such as the one we did won’t have a big impact on the long-term wellbeing of the community, but I do think that we were able to bring some comfort and hope to the community during this lockdown. I’d like to extend my thanks to all involved in the project, both to those who donated and to those who gave endless support and time.”

“A project of this nature is impossible to execute without teamwork, project management and community support” states John. “I am proud of the tenacity and commitment shown by the 6th Rondebosch Rovers. I also want to thank all who donated both in time and in kind. Together we were able to be of service and help people in need.”

Photos: supplied by 6th Rondebosch and Linda. Edited by Kyle Mills.

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