Changes of Knysna Saves the Day For Hungry Residents

“I wake up at 4 am every Tuesday and Thursday to prepare food for my community. We feed 600 people a week and cover 4 areas in Knysna. At first, we hired transportation to deliver in those areas, now we have women from those areas who’ve volunteered to assist,” said Chairmaine

Sinclair is the chairperson of the Changes of Knysna, a non-governmental organisation that supports community members in need.

The NGO depends on donations and the money put together by members of the community to survive.

Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic, many people lost their jobs and are now having to go to bed with hungry stomachs every night.

As a result many of them now depend on soup kitchens like the one set up by Changes of Knysna for their daily meal.

In response to the needs brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic Changes of Knysna built a wooden house office to assist victims of abuse and a feeding scheme for the unemployed and unemployable community members who are unable to provide for themselves.

Marian Van Der Linden and Jacclyn October help run the soup kitchens and part of Changes of Knysna are grateful to be part of this initiative.

“We do not only feed young people or kids but old people from around town as well. They come to our stations carrying lunch boxes so that they can have food, though it’s embarrassing for them to leave their houses and be seen by everyone that they can’t provide for themselves, their courageous attitudes to survive and towards us keep us going,” explained Jacclyn.

“We pray that people bounce back and redeem their lives. The peoples’ right to work and have access to food has been violated this year. We wish for the organization to grow and be able to provide for food everyday,” said Marian Van Der Linden

Marian Van Der Linden added that some of the people they assist do not have Identity Documents so they we can’t claim the Covid Relief Grant on their behalf.

“We wish the government can have vouchers given to organisations so that we can give to people who do not have identity documents to buy food with at a local superstore,” she said.

Michelle Jantjies is a 55-year-old woman who’s been unemployed for 15 years now.  She used to collect plastic bottles, cardboard, and glass to sell at a local recycling company in Knysna. But now says she’s too old and sick to continue. She struggles to walk up and down looking for bottles as she used to.

“My body is failing me, I’m too old to be scrubbing rubbish bins, trying to find bottles, I can even catch viruses. I now depend on friends, relatives and Changes of Knysna to feed me during this period. I have given up a long time ago on finding a job.

Graduates are not working, now companies have closed in Knysna because of the loss endured during lockdown because of covid,” explained Jantjies.

Janjies lives alone and is too young to qualify for a pension grant. She also does not have a smartphone, which means she struggles to apply for the R350 Covid Relief grant.

“ I struggled to apply for the covid relief grant, the used number I used before to apply is not working now. The South African Social Security Agency .” Concluded Janties

SASSA Western Cape Spokesperson Shivani Wahab said SASSA has five operational platforms for the application and process of grant. Wahab explained that the agency is still working on the USSD option.  USSD is a global Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) protocol that is used to send text messages.

“The exclusion of the USSD platform should not have a negative impact on any application based on the multiple application channels that are available and which have proved to be effective as SASSA has received more than 11 million applications for this specific social grant to date,” explained Wahab.

He advised applicants who feel that they meet the criteria for this grant to apply. Applications will be accepted until March 2022.

“The issuing of food vouchers has been replaced with the Covid-19 SRD grant” said Wahab Section 27(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states that, “everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water.”

This obligation is extended in section 27(2), according to which “the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, consider adding more stats about how many people have lost jobs/ ability to put food on the table.

By Siphokazi Mnyobe

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