to Fr Gerald from
Ithemba Nenjabulo Project
24 April 2020
Dear Papa G
Greetings to you Father from Ithemba Nenjabulo in Embalenhle Township living and working in this lockdown period. I write this periodic Report for you to file and share.
This corona virus covid-19 has become the topic on everyone’s lips. When we first heard about this virus almost everyone felt fear and was very scared and frightened and not sure what to do. Now that we have talked and shared and we learn about the virus people have become more at ease, and now settled to keep the rules and avoid getting it and spreading it. Thank you for your visits to the Projects just before the lockdown began.
The President announced Lockdown on the 26 of March 2020 for 21days, that got people crazy, some furious, some worried. The President said only essential services will be in operation. I myself I am a production learner at Sasol with other youth from our group so we fall part of essential services. Sasol issued us with travelling letter permits to travel. But luckily they put all of us Apprentices on standby. After a couple of weeks we got the call back to work as they really needed us.
This Lockdown it was a good move by the President to minimize the spreading, which has been successful so far. The problem is that if people do not work, hunger strikes their homes. After the phase 2 lockdown announcement we just saw people getting more stressed. One of the neighbours who survives by grant money just told me that he had to sell his sound speaker (one of his few simple luxuries) so that he can buy food for his family. This is not right. Many people like him will end up with nothing and even minus. Other neighbours where we live survive by collecting plastic bottles for recycling and selling them when the truck comes month end; these are struggling with nothing. Our Project youth members see this and we share about the struggles and see if there is anything we can do to help as we must not lose faith, and it’s important to keep happy and loving.
PMS granted us some money to help in our Project of Ithemba Nenjabulo, most of it to help in school uniforms etc and education and a little of it to help poor families we assist. I need to wait until schools open to start on that shopping list but the food money somehow has gone twice as far like in the story of the loaves and fishes in one of the Easter Gospels; this happened as a miracle for us because someone saw what we were doing and got some others to donate more food. Somehow we never run short to help.
Three of us from our group went to Pick n Pay where they know us and we made some food hampers with essential food for four very needy families to begin with. The hamper consists of Rice, mealie meal, cooking oil, tinned beans, tinned fish, corned meat, potatoes, brown sugar, tea bags, samp, brown onion soup, bathing soap and some oranges.
When I took the food in our trusty 25 year old red Golf to the four families I saw that the grandmothers were finding it very difficult and asking themselves how they are going to survive until end of lockdown to care for the family. But I see faith and smiles in them and the love that makes them always share from what they have. They were so grateful.
One of the grannies has been sick for a while now and her daughter and niece came to stay with her so that they can look after her. When I entered the house I noticed the whole house was empty and they cooking on the floor. I just hope the granny has a bed to sleep on with these days getting cold and the RDPs being cold themselves.
Lockdown the Government said there will be no power cuts, but that never applied to us in eMbalenhle, for we have power cuts almost every day. Some power cuts they go from 7am up 10pm. We’ve had this situation a few times already in our extension and some others, then everyday mostly from 5pm to 9.30pm no electricity or they cut off in the morning at 9am until 12pm. This is what is making most of the people finding it difficult to stay indoors during this time. The children keep happy but some of the good programs on TV for them are when there is no electricity. Also when the electric goes the network is no good.
Some families we know and also help live in shacks in ‘Marikana’ the sort of informal settlements in the Township itself. They have no electricity (though some do steal it which everyone knows) and only shared standpipes for water. Ithemba Nenjabulo has helped some families because they said those giving out the food parcels in the area are giving more to their friends and don’t care about the others who get none, two families told me that those with food parcels told them ‘you don’t belong here’ and gave them nothing! This virus and lockdown doesn’t change the corrupt and selfish people, they just take more advantage. We must be different whatever it takes.
Mduduzi Family Care our neighbouring Project has helped people in need at this time but that will feature in their own Report, but we can share that Veronica the Chairperson came to the rescue of a dear family whose house nearly burnt down during this week. The project was able to help with comfort, cleaning out the place, and much needed food and some clothes. They help many vulnerable children and child-headed families.
The Law enforcement has being doing their best to make sure people stay to home and the Military have been here as well.
Every shop you go to they sanitize your hands and even some of those sanitizers are very strong for your hands, they burn and itchy! My daughter Theresa 2 and half years old always reminds me and Rose to wash our hands, and pray every night before we sleep, and gets her seven year brother on his knees!
With the lockdown, Christ’s people could not come together to worship at one place but we have enjoyed live Masses on YouTube, with some reflections on the readings from the Bishop of Swaziland +Jose Luis. I remember on Good Friday after the live service we watched the movie Passion of Christ and I saw my son Benedict was deeply touched and was so sad, the Gospel came alive to him and we had to explain to him what was happening.
All the dwellings in Emba should have been visited for health screening but we have not seen anyone in our Extension or our neighbouring ones.
Our Team got called back to work on the first week of the second phase of lockdown. It was a very very busy day at work; when I got home from work, I bathed, had something to eat and gone asleep. On the third day I’m supposed to work night shift and woke up in the morning to find my TV was stolen. Someone came into the house through the window, took the TV and my hard drive with all my documents and pictures in it. We are TVless now. I know that I and Rose and the many children and youth of our Project who enjoyed the TV must forgive but it goes deep when you know people who will not help others but will even steal from the little you have – and sometimes kill. We feel for the many who suffer the same experience.
With God’s blessings and graces I pray as all of us do, that everything is going to be back to normal whatever that may be, and people will not lose their jobs, and that they will find the cure for this Corona Covid-19 disease.
May the Lord bless and keep us all healthy and strong and happy