Quoin Online has supported an NGO programme in Kewtown, Athlone for the last two years. BABS (Build a Better Society) had been started almost 45 years ago by Professor Richard van der Ross (the first rector of UWC) and the first social worker in the area, George Gibbs. Currently the programme runs an educare centre for 100 children, aged from 6 months to 5 years. It also runs a seniors programme and provides social programmes and meals to the elderly in the area.
Kewtown is situated along the N2 into the city and has often been identified as the most dangerous township in Cape Town. Poverty, unemployment and overcrowding is rife and has become fertile ground for gangsterism and drugs. With the lockdown the centre was forced to close. This meant that both the children and the seniors were not getting their usual meals. With the extended lockdown, the hardship has increased as those who do work have been unable to earn a living, many in the informal sector and dependent on piece work.
The harsh reality is that these communities are not only faced with the threat of Covid-19, but the threat of starvation. And for many this is a greater, and more real threat.
So we opened our soup kitchen AND delivering meals to the seniors. With the help of the caregivers at the day hospital, we have been able to set up a distribution network, not only delivering a meal but also ensuring that they receive their chronic medication. Within days the numbers being fed at the soup kitchen had swelled to over 300 and is increasing daily. Even after the lockdown, this community is going to battle with the harsh realities of poverty. These are communities where schooling has ground to a halt and where social distancing is an inexplicable concept. The area consists of two room flats over three floors and terraced houses. Each home has fifteen to twenty people living in it……..there is greater social distancing on the street than in the home. The social ills that come from these living conditions are indescribable.
Kewtown is but one of thousands of communities in South Africa, all facing the same plight. As we sit at home, fearful of the future and frustrated at our inability to do something……we can show our love by giving. R140 per month allows BABS to feed one senior person two meals a day for a month. R100 per day pays for the bread given out at the soup kitchen. Every little bit helps. Long after the lockdown has ended these communities will still be facing the challenges of poverty and starvation……BE the CHANGE you want to see…….if we all do a little…..together……our little becomes much.
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