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All South Africans, particularly those living in informal settlements and lower-income communities, are feeling the strain of lockdown. With extremely crowded environments, poor sanitation facilities, water and food shortages, unemployment and lack of access to up-to-date information, their risk of contracting COVID-19 is decidedly different to those living in suburbs and urban centres. Many even rely on schools to provide their children with the necessary three meals a day, but what happens now that schools are closed and communities are on lockdown?
Afrika Tikkun has mobilized a community-level response to COVID-19 in the areas in which they operate, called the Neighbour to Neighbour Support Program. Marc Lubner, CEO of Afrika Tikkun says, “We are scaling up supplies of food and essentials for the vulnerable, distributing goods to communities that urgently need it during this time of crisis”. “We know that the provision of food parcels is not a sustainable long-term solution, but it is an indispensable response if we are to assist vulnerable communities withstand COVID-19. With limited or no alternatives, the provision of a food parcel may just be a lifesaver”.
Right now, there is enormous demand to rapidly expand the feeding scheme to meet the needs of these communities. Lubner applauds the South African governments swift response in dealing with the coronavirus crisis saying that if it had not been for this prompt action the country would be in much worse shape than it is currently. He continues, “We are also extremely fortunate to have great sponsors onboard that are assisting the organisation and it’s young people. Remarkably, the program has brought together privates, other non-profit organisations and community-based structures. We’re already seeing an incredible outcome with the likes of KFC Add Hope and Cans with Purpose getting involved, but this is only the beginning stages of the pandemic in SA and if we’re to really make a difference we all need to pull together”.
So, Afrika Tikkun is calling on all South Africans for support. Non-perishable goods or monetary donations are required to help the Afrika Tikkun centres deliver these essential services.
In his televised address on the 23rd of March, President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “This (coronavirus outbreak) is extremely dangerous for a population like ours, with a large number of people with suppressed immunity because of HIV and TB, and high levels of poverty and malnutrition.”
Providing beneficial nutrition for young people has a great impact on their physical wellbeing and cognitive development. They require a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and protein daily in order to grow and develop properly. And, of course, hydration is essential for both the brain and the body too.
Lubner pleas, “We all need to practice responsible kindness towards our fellow citizens at a time like this and although you may not be able to leave your home, you can still play a big part in pulling the country through this successfully. We all have the spirit of ubuntu in our hearts. We are stronger together”.