Johann Kikillus, director, Soteria Ministries, Ocean View
We are entering the third month of lockdown and the damage on communities is starting to show.
Thankfully here in the far south, various communities and groups have been very proactive resulting in dozens of feeding schemes running each day in parts where food is scarce.
We also have a large number of people returning back to work and school-feeding schemes have started up. This is just in time, especially as many children rely on getting their food from school.
I know for a fact that many children at Ocean View Care Centre only eat when they come to the centre. It has been a worry as we have not been able to locate every single child to hand out food. But thankfully the soup kitchens have been spread out and so we trust the children made their way there.
Things are not so rosy up country. Every two weeks, I drive up to Central Karoo where we assist with feeding there. Because the national road has been virtually closed since the end of March, many people in the small towns have not been working. These towns rely on the steady flow of traffic along the N1. Much of their income comes from tourists passing through. In April when I drove up, I passed fewer than a dozen trucks and cars between Worcester and Beaufort West.
In the communities it is really bad. Some of the feeding schemes have seen the number of children more than double since March. Malnutrition is starting to show. Unlike the far south, these towns are not surrounded by wealthier neighbours to assist with feeding.
To add to the problem, winter is setting in and temperatures are close to freezing. A police officer in Laingsburg told me that the greatest need in the Karoo is children’s clothes as many of the poorer children’s parents are not in the position to buy new clothes. Blankets are also in short supply.
I mention all of this because it would appear that tourism and travel between provinces is unlikely to commence any time soon. Every two weeks I can see how the suffering has increased. It shows on the faces of the children and the elderly. It is going to be a very long winter for residents of Laingsburg, Sutherland, Fraserburg, Merweville, Leeu Gamka, Beaufort West, Nelspoort and Murraysburg.
Lastly, what I have noticed in many communities is that since the grants were increased by government, shebeens have upped their prices. A bottle of Klipdrift now costs R700 in some of the poorer communities. And sadly because of high alcohol dependency in many areas, people are buying on credit. This is another challenge that is keeping our communities poor and needs to be addressed.
If you are able to assist with warm children’s clothes, blankets, and dry foods, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org