OLIEVENHOUTBOSCH – The Mahlasedi Foundation, which will be handing out 30 000 parcels in the coming weeks, has arranged a delivery system to ensure there aren’t large crowds of people coming to collect their parcels.
While the country battles Covid-19, an Olievenhoutbosch-based foundation has worked tirelessly to distribute food parcels to those in need.
Over the next few weeks, the Mahlasedi Foundation will distribute 30 000 food parcels in the area.
One food parcel weighs roughly 75kg, is worth about R1 000 and should feed a family of four twice a day for a month. The parcels were put together with due consideration of the nutritive requirements of the recipients and include maize meal, flour, rice, samp and sugar among other items.
The foundation’s distribution process was designed in consultation with and implemented by many stakeholders. According to the foundation’s chairperson, Bert Pretorius, the households of the community were issued with QR tags connected to their ID document or passport. Each section of the community was assigned a collection date and upon presentation of their tag and identification documents at the distribution point, they would then be verified, scanned for fever and sanitised before being allowed entry to the parcel collection point, while adhering to lockdown protocols.
Pretorius said, “When we started tagging the homes, we realised the extent of the need in this community. The poverty is extreme and the people are desperate for relief. Many households share homes, with some of the tiny properties providing shelter for up to 12 families.”
Food distribution started on 29 April and saw 7 500 parcels successfully distributed. On 2 May thousands of people were lined up for kilometres from the school where the food was being distributed, some from as early as 1am. The Midrand Reporter reported on this in Thousands flock to Olievenhoutbosch to receive food parcels, published on 2 May.
A rumour, of unknown origin, was spread throughout the community that it would be the last day for food collection and this saw the people panic and come out in their thousands. Many ignored all the protocols of social distancing and their assigned date for collection because of the fear of being left without food.
In spite of a difficult start, the people were still issued with 3 000 parcels on the day. “To our knowledge, there were no incidents of violence or rioting and the situation was peacefully resolved,” the foundation said.
On 3 May, it was business as usual and the food flowed to a grateful community without any incidents or contraventions of lockdown regulations whilst think tanks were set in motion to change the distribution model to minimise movement of the local people.
As of 4 May, the food distribution process was changed from a collection system to a delivery system. The tagging system mentioned previously makes it possible for each household who had not collected their food to now be identified and see their parcel delivered to their door. This eliminates the risk of crowds gathering and social distancing being ignored in queues as well as to assist those who are elderly, pregnant or otherwise impaired and ensure they no one is excluded due to their inability to wait in a distribution line.
“Although we have been feeding impoverished communities for years, we have never embarked on a project of this scale. We are grateful to all our partners for their support. We have learnt a lot and continue to streamline and improve our processes on a daily basis as the health and safety of the community is of paramount importance to our foundation. With this said, we would like to extend a sincere thank you to the hundreds of volunteers from our organisation who stepped up and, with true compassion, worked tirelessly into the early hours of the mornings to alleviate the plight of the poor this week,” said Pretorius.
Source: Midrand Reporter