Lockdown In A Settlement
As the world reels from the impact of the spread of COVID-19 South Africa has acted relatively quickly to curb the spread of the virus. On the 18th March the President closed all schools across the country in a bid to slow the infection rates.
On the 23rd March, a national lockdown was mandated and all citizens except for key workers were ordered to stay at home for 3 weeks from midnight on 26 March until midnight 16 April. Individuals are not allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.
Cyril Ramaphosa's speech
"This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people," the president said in his address.
"While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater."
The lockdown has been extended to the end of April and we are today, on the 20th April, halfway through the 4th week of the lockdown.
While the president promised food parcels and additional funds in the grants of those who are most vulnerable the vast logistics involved have meant that the execution of this has not been very fast and we are still waiting for assistance to reach the village.
We made a decision to continue to supply and feed the children at the daycare centre and did so until the 2nd of April.
We were forced to stop after speaking to the police commissioner who instructed us to cease immediately and said that we would not be granted any sympathy if we were caught continuing to feed, or even deliver supplies without permission, we would be jailed. The military has been deployed across the country to enforce the lockdown and encourage people to stay at home. This has caused some unrest in the locations and we have been hearing stories of excessive violence and heavy-handed tactics both in the media and from friends.
A Powder Keg
An article published by Sky News UK yesterday paints a grim picture in Johannesburg and, while here in Ermelo the situation is not yet as bad as it is in Diepsloot there is reason to be concerned.
It is true to say that most people here work in the "informal sector" - they sell goods on the roadside, guard cars or recycle waste - but residents cannot work when they have been ordered to stay indoors.
Looting and theft throughout South Africa is on the rise as is anger, hunger and desperation.
You can help!
We have been keeping in close communication with Robert & Milton in the village to keep up to date with what is happening in the village and doing what we can when we can.
We received a shipment of e-pap from the GRCT for the children at the centre and have been granted special permission from them to distribute a packet to each family, not just the children, to help. We have also been able to donate bags of mealie meal to families that are in the greatest of need.
More is needed. There are thought to be between 60,000 and 80,000 people in need in our area alone. The additional grant money has not yet arrived and the government promised food parcels have not made it to the village yet. We are not sure if they will. In addition, the criteria that must be satisfied in order to receive promised food parcels might not be achievable so many people will fall through the cracks, especially in the outlying areas where we work.
Just before the lockdown, Love Africa Youth had started to offer support to the Ulawzoluhle (Good Knowledge) Daycare Centre in Nybe, another location/squatter camp in Ermelo and we want to get e-pap and mealie meal to the families in most need who are associated with that daycare centre.
We have been keeping in touch with local pastors through the lockdown period and are seeking to offer assistance, in line with Love Africa Youth's remit, to their congregants who are facing desperation.
We have just secured a permit so that we can deliver emergency aid to those in need and are liaising with people in and around Ermelo to raise funds for those for whom help has not yet arrived.
We have found ways to identify those who need help the most.
We have secured the means to deliver supplies.
Now we need your help!
JUST R70/£3/DKK25 buys a 12.5kg sack of maize and can feed a family of 4 for 2 weeks.
Love Africa Youth uses all donations to provide for families during the lockdown, as well as supporting families and their communities to pick up the pieces of their lives after lockdown.
Our volunteers have direct access to the most in need and are well placed to be able to assist quickly and efficiently. All funds go to those who need it the most.