Donate funds to save the Karoo

Magchel Pretorius-Albutt and Kate Parr are members of South African Water Warriors, collecting water and essential items for farmers in drought-stricken Karoo towns.

Cape Town dodged Day Zero, but for families in the Karoo, the drought continues to hit hard, and they rely on water donations from volunteers here to bring them some relief.

South African Water Warriors (SAWW) is a non-profit whose sole purpose is to collect donated water from the general public and big business and haul it to these thirsting Karoo towns. It is entirely volunteer-driven.

Spokeswoman and founder member Magchel Pretorious-Albutt says the organisation is looking for people in Fish Hoek and the valley to donate two bakkie loads of
water for SAWW’s next convoy in April.

She is helped by Kate Parr, who helped run collection drives at the height of Cape Town’s water crisis. She is planning to join SAWW’s next convoy.

“The farmers and their work-
ers live off the land, and when there is no water, there is no work. So the families – all of them – need water, but they also need food, clothes for the whole family, livestock food, pet food – everything a normal household needs,” Kate says.

Magchel describes the drop-off as both the highlight and the heartbreak of the work.

“It is something to see grown men cry with gratitude. They are so overcome that their plight is
being responded to by perfect strangers.”

The convoys ferrying the donated goods are often met by a long line of empty bakkies and hopeful faces.

“I have been doing this full time for nearly two years now and it gets me every time,” says Magchel. “These donations make the difference between families managing to keep their farms or not, or animals living or dying.

“It’s inconceivable for us, now that we have rain, to imagine that these farmers have been waiting seven years for that rain. It has come for us, but not for them.”

Magchel says she is happy to allow people to become what she terms volunteer donation stations, to be the people who accept donations dropped off at their homes or businesses, to store, until the convoys collect all the goods.

Kate says she has approached churches and organisations in the valley but has not yet had any response to her enquiries.

She has permission from Pick * Pay in Fish Hoek to keep a trolley stationed at the entrance, for people to place donations.

“We have been very fortunate to have had water and transport donated on many occasions, but we do need additional funds to transport water to towns further away that are in dire need of clean water,” Magchel says.

“Where there is water there is life. Where there is life there’s growth.”

She stresses that the non-profit is apolitical. “This happens without any interference from any political parties. Water does not choose race, religion or political affiliations. It is for everyone.”

Theorganisation’sbiggest drought relief effort was at Prince Albert, when their convoy was about 80 vehicles long, inclu-
ding trucks, from Cape Town,
Rustenburg and George. All
trucks brought water, fodder and groceries to assist drought-stricken farming communities.

To help, call Kate at 084 951 1864 or Magchel at 076 421 3762 or look for the group on Facebook.

The next convoy is to Van Wyksvlei on Saturday April 18. Anyone making a donation is invited to join the convoy, see the drought areas for themselves and meet the farming families.