The poor suffer the most

Johann Kikillus, director Soteria Ministries, Ocean View

For close to 20 years, the majority of my time has been spent working among the poorest and most marginalised people of our society. During this period, Soteria Ministries and Ocean View Care Centre have focussed primarily on vulnerable children, women, youth and the elderly.

Most of these people, across the Western Cape, live hand to mouth and many struggle in abusive relationships. What I have observed during this time is that whenever there are problems in society, such as protests, drought, flooding etc, these people suffer far worse than the middle and working class. This is particularly so for the elderly who often are raising their grandchildren on a minuscule pension.

Recent protests and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng as well as taxi violence in Cape Town will no doubt lead to many months of suffering for society’s most vulnerable. It does not help either that some politicians use these moments to stoke up racial tensions, which leads to distrust and hatred among people.

This letter is written to the church of South Africa and, more specifically, in the far south. It is our duty, not government’s, to look after the poor, the elderly, widows, orphans, the sick etc. It is our task to address the fractures of society, including racial tensions.

The biggest challenge we currently face is that the circumstances around us can be overwhelming for a single church. But when many churches, and there are hundreds, work together and combine resources, we will be able to reach all of those people who have fallen through the cracks.

Many people have told me that they have no idea where or how to start, and, as a result, have not done anything yet. When we pool our resources, we will discover that there are others who have walked this path before and can offer guidance.

This cannot wait another six months, it has to start as soon as possible. I invite churches to email me at johann@soteriaministries.org.za should they wish to start reaching out to the vulnerable of our society.