Across the Atlantic Ocean like-minded Rotarians regularly connect virtually to discuss how to serve the poor, the needy and the destitute.
Hoedspruit Rotarians, and their colleagues at Hlokomela, have always been involved in improving the living conditions of the deprived families of Hoedspruit and surrounds and ever since the start of the lockdown, which is now in its 100th day, the situation has deteriorated and an intensified approach was required to continue serving the vulnerable people of Hoedspruit.
In early May, Rotarian Wilana Manderson was appointed to co-ordinate the initiative on behalf of Hlokomela, Rotary and the original Food Relief Scheme. Her role is to implement a co-ordinated approach and to avoid any duplication and to increase reach.
The scheme has divided the area into seven “clusters” to ensure effective dissemination of food. Rotarian, Christine du Preez who runs Hlokomela says, “Selection criteria are simple: is the person unemployed and are they hungry? We do not discriminate in terms of colour, social circumstances or anything else.”
Recipients are registered to prevent duplication and ensure all donations are accounted for, and to ensure that Rotary fully comply with their mandates from the Department of Social Development and SARS.
We started by feeding 179 families totalling approximately 400 people but, since the start of level three lockdown, our numbers have slightly decreased as people have started going back to work again. However, we keep them on the list until they receive their first income but there are always new names to take their place.
This is not a job for sissies because financing and meeting the demands of these vulnerable families has become a huge responsibility. What happens if we run out of money and cannot feed these people who now expectantly await the arrival of the good Samaritans with their smiles, words of comfort and bakkie loads of food parcels and fruit? These may be the only meals that the children who mill around the bakkie will get in the next few weeks. As the vehicle arrives, they run out to greet us and clap their little hands in anticipation of the lovely goodies in the boxes and bags on the back of the truck.
During virtual conversations with the Rotary Club of Boca Raton in Florida, United States, an eighty plus community Rotary club of business minded leaders, Hoedspruit Rotary was offered funds to help with the food scheme.
Boca Raton, Rotary Club President, Vanessa Havener explained that, due to the confidence they had gained in meeting and dealing with us on other issues, the club and its members were willing to give us a bit over R 31,000 as a donation to the scheme.
Other donations arrive in the form of cash from individuals; some named and some anonymous. Food parcels are donated by supermarkets and donations of fresh vegetables and fruit are regularly received by a number of very generous farmers.
Rotary President Ole Ahrens says, “We make up balanced parcels delivering at least every 14 days. Parcels are made up differently for different areas. The people in town for example have different requirements to those living in the rural townships and we do our best to ensure the parcels contain the most suitable items for every area.”
If anyone would like to make a donation to this worthy cause please contact Wilana Manderson, Rotary Hoedspruit on 0832758862 or Christine du Preez, Hlokomela on 0833002933 or the Hoedspruit Rotary Website https:/www.givengain.com/c/hoedspruitrotary or https:/hoedspruitrotary.org.za/