Unemployed Peoples Movement and Oxfam deliver food aid to Makhanda orphanages

By East Cape News

The Unemployed Peoples Movement (UPM) has delivered R30 000 worth of vital food aid, sponsored by Oxfam South Africa, to three Makhanda (Grahamstown) orphanages which no longer reveive government funding.

Tshezi Soxujwa, chairperson of the UPM, said, “It is very necessary for us as a social movement to deliver this food aid to these community based organisations because the system of capitalism is very cruel. It makes us starve. There are high levels of poverty in Makhanda and the system that is governing us does not care at all. So it is our responsibility to help”.

Margaret Ngcangca has been running the Home of Joy Child and Youth Care Centre in Joza, Makhanda for 30 years this March. She houses 32 orphans. Her orphanage gets zero funding from the government. Her orphans range in age from Grade R to an incontinent 25 year old intellectually challenged person.

“It is very tough for us in Grahamstown. Our orphanages only get donations, no funding at all. Sometimes we go to the shops to ask for donations and come back crying, with nothing. We are very grateful to Oxfam and UPM. This is our ministry, our passion and our vision but we need materials to help the children” said Ngcangca.

“Nobody helps us with child support grant applications. Not all of our orphans even receive grants. For psychological appointments for the children, we have to pay for their transport to Fort England hospital” Ngcangca added.

Mthandazo Ndlovu Hlahla, the Democracy, and Governance & Strategic Alliances Programme Manager at Oxfam South Africa, said: “The Covid 19 crisis has exposed South Africa’s existing weaknesses in health care systems, education and food systems. The scale of the challenge requires cooperation and collaboration. OZA is working with the Unemployed Peoples Movement in Makana in support of food security, livelihood and self-reliance interventions”.

“Even before the pandemic, 13.7 million South Africans, almost a quarter of the population, did not have access to enough food as a result of high levels of unemployment, lack of access to assets such as land or fishing permits, and the high and rising price of food and other essentials. Inequality and discrimination mean that some sections of society such as women – who earn 27 percent less on average than their male counterparts – are more likely to be living with hunger. Since the pandemic and the lock down the number of hungry people has risen sharply. This is evidenced in numerous reports published by agencies such as Statistics South Africa, NIDS: 2021 and Oxfam South Africa’s report on Hunger entitled, “Not Yet Uhuru” 2020. Child hunger and predominantly amongst African children is on the rise” Ndlovu said.

“Government may invest in reliable food access and distribution partnerships, involving civil society organizations and the private sector to speed up the process of reaching millions of hungry South Africans. Investments in food production and small-scale farmers to ensure our food supply during and post Covid 19 is secure must be made. Water distribution and access for farmers must be guaranteed, including targeted procurements of fresh produce from local small holder farmers. Regional and continental bodies should explore investing in regional food stocking and distribute food equitably or according to need during times of crisis” Ndlovu added.

“The problem is particularly acute in urban areas. Millions of informal workers – street traders, cleaners, and delivery drivers – suddenly found themselves out of work with no access to sick pay or unemployment benefit at the same time as the prices of food and other essentials has spiked because of stockpiling and price gouging by supermarkets and other suppliers” said Ndlovu. 

Sylvia Tsewu has been running the Fingo Orphanage for 10 years with seven orphans currently, and Virginia Tutu has been running the Newton Extension Care Home Centre for 11 years, housing 10 orphans currently.

Tutu was recently handed an abandoned two month old baby to care for by the department of social development – but without any nappies, clothing, or formula milk (which is not always available for free when the day clinics are closed).

All three women said they are still in need of mattresses, clothing, food and subject tutors for their Grade 10-12 orphans. The orphans do not all have mattresses and some sleep on broken beds.

All three orphanages accept everyone and do not turn children away and so there are intellectually challenged, epileptic and HIV positive residents who need extra resources that the orphanages do not have.

Several of the orphans from the Home of Joy Child and Youth Centre have matriculated and qualified as teachers and nurses over the years.

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