A View from the Front Line:
Shumbashaba works with people from all walks of life. Their main focus has been in the neighbouring township of Diepsloot. It is estimated that well over 50 000 families in Diepsloot live below the poverty line.
We work alongside children and adults to develop self-worth, gain life skills, and build the sense of empowerment needed to build a hopeful future.
Our programs typically run along three tiers: ground and individual therapy sessions, skills/education programs, as well as sports and recreation. This provides vulnerable children and adults the opportunities to heal from trauma, grow their self-confidence, and feel free to become the best versions of themselves.
We are a people organisation through and through. However, in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to adjust. While it is now no longer safe for us to run programs like our Youth Development Program (in which anywhere from 200 to 600 children would attend to learn skills and receive a healthy, warm, meal), we were left with the question: how do we continue to help this community when we can no longer interact with them?
The answer presented itself. Our work in the community had established a network of organisations and people on the ground. We had become a reputable community centre people trusted. Around a week into lockdown, a woman and her three young children arrived at the gates of Shumbashaba to ask why we had shut down her programs as the meal we provided her children was the only source of nourishment available to them. Similar cries for help began to emerge as the economic effects of the hard lockdown ravaged a community that had already lived precariously for so long.
Our close proximity to the community, our existing relationship with many families whose children attended our programs and an incredibly motivated team, resulted in the idea that we could fundraise money to put together and distribute food parcels. Our aim was to catch those people really in need who were falling through the cracks of government and other non-profit provided aid. The incredible response from our larger South African community allowed us to begin these distributions.
However, the scale of need far outweighed our ability to keep up with distributions as well as safety protocols to minimise the spread of the virus. Queues of thousands of people began snaking its way from the gates of Shumbashaba. We needed to adapt again. We began accumulating lists of contact details for people looking for food, as well as searching out other individuals in dire situations to put together a database. From there we began exploring an electronic voucher system to more effectively be able to get money for food into the hands of those who needed it most.
We have been able to feed 2311 families so far and there are many more in need of support, without access to the lifelines of a more ‘normal’ life. As an organisation, we believe that better days will come again. Better days are coming, and we can usher them in. Will you join us?