Let's go to iSthembiso first.  Russell runs a care facility and each week he opens his doors to the elderly in his community for the GAGA GOGO lunch!  This is normally a social affair, with the Gogo's chatting and laughing long after the plates are cleared but in the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions on gatherings Russell has taken a different approach.

Bags of rice, beans and containers of cooking oil

The speed of implementation of the lockdown has created some particular problems in the rural communities.  Adults often work in the larger towns and cities, returning to the home community perhaps once or twice a month, therefore many were unable to make that journey before the transport restrictions were imposed.  Also, many rural families are child headed or made up of a Gogo (Granny) who cares for up to five or six grandchildren. Our project co-ordinator, Debbie, tells us that such was the speed of the decision to lockdown, many of the paypoints for the old age grant, that is often the only source of income for these families, did not have the staffing or the information to deal with the demand and early payouts.  This meant that the elderly, vulnerable adults had to queue for extended periods, heightening their risk of contracting the virus.   

Cabbage, butternut, onions and potatoes

Thanks to a small advance on his regular quarterly payment from GAGA UK, Russell was able to purchase some large bags of rice and pulses, as well as some cooking oil.  Along with the addition of some fresh produce, cabbages, butternut squash, potatoes and onions he is making up individual family food parcels. 

Single family food bundle

Russell is careful to ensure he is compliant with the new rules on gatherings and social distancing, so he his making up individual family parcels and is restricting the access to his project to three Gogo's at a time to come and collect their provisions.  We are so pleased to hear how Russell has diversified his activities in these challenging times. 

Let's pop across the valley to hear from our partners at 1000 Hills Community Helpers, who are sharing the message about how vitally important nutrition is.

Dawn, the founder and driving force behind 1000HCH, explains how acute malnutrition weakens the immune system and increases susceptibility to disease.  In these communities the risk is not confined to Covid-19 and therefore, at this time it is even more important that nutrition standards can be maintained and feeding schemes supported. 

Food parcels in 1000HCH

Dawn & Sibo preparing pacels

This is why Dawn has switched her clinic staff onto a delivery rota to take vital medication and food parcels into the community. Hands on as ever, Dawn is overseeing the preparation of parcels and working tirelessly behind the scenes to maintain the support of her many partners and identify new sources of support for these extraordinary times.  1000 Hills Community Helpers provide a vital and lifesaving service and their presence in their community is needed now, more than ever.  Stay safe everyone 😷