It’s Easter weekend. Our group of displaced friends have all been shipped to Strandfontein, there is no break in the need, as most South Africans live on the poverty line and COVID-19 has exposed massive inequality in our society. As the only Driver with a Permit for Muizenberg Can, the following has been my standard day for many days….
The day kicks off at 8am with neighbour Verity and I, washing the giant cooking pots and the bulk serving containers from the previous night’s nourishing. Once washed the giant cooking pots are delivered to volunteer Chef Niren who will sterilise the containers and cook the CAN sponsored lentils/rice. Later in the day I will collect the numerous cooked meals from many CAN cooking volunteers from Muizenberg to Marina Da Gama. Niren, like a lot of us, lost his job and income when business shut shop while restrictions were put in place. I head to Rylands in Athlone to bulk buy herbs and spices from wholesalers Spice City (good tip). I am armed with my Permit to Perform Essential Services earned from the 10 days working with the rounded up displaced peoples at Muizenberg Beach with much gratitude to legends Marion Wagner from Breadline, Lucinda Evans from Philisa Abafazi Bethu and Muizenberg CAN. A special mention and much gratitude to Theresa Wigley at Amava Oluntu.
On the return journey from Athlone, I pass a bent over man pushing his crumpled-up mother in a shopping trolley begging at the robots. Hunger has been here already for a long time. I bulk buy vegetables in Grassy Park from a beautiful girl who loves flowers, then head via Busy Corner to Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Club to collect soup and containers from Rochelle Pascucci at Rochelle’s Kitchen. Chef Rochelle, like Niren, is volunteering as her income has dried up due to Lockdown Restrictions. I pass Farah Martinez from Muizenberg CAN to collect the 12 Emergency Food Parcels for today’s delivery, then on to Bridgette of The Lentil Curtain to collect the bulk lentil and rice order that goes to 148 Main to be packed. We unload the crammed vehicle full of spices, rice, vegetables and lentils, Noleen Read and Claire Homewood now have to sort out the dry foods that will be delivered to the various Can volunteer cooks.
I start delivery of 12 Emergency Food Parcels to families in distress while the lists and the cooking parcels are prepped.
The cooking parcels are packed at 148 Main Road Art Studio as we have no community space nor commons to be used in this fight against the pandemic. We rely on the CAN Community for everything from masks, hand sanitizer, cooking, transport, data, funding and support. The collated cooking lists are sent via WhatsApp and I start another delivery run to the amazingly beautiful Can cooking volunteers who have restored my faith in humanity. I return to Niren to assist with the cooking and then head out to complete more of the Emergency Food Parcel drops.
Naz Adams calls for Kalk Bay Primary food collection and delivery. I swing by Kalk Bay dropping food parcels on the way from the WhatsApp list. We do No Contact delivery and for proof I take photos of the parcels, hands only as some recipients wish to remain anonymous. Naz hands over the Kalk Bay Primary parcels, delivery list and I go to Fish Hoek for the first delivery. On the return journey I deliver to Boyes Drive to find a woman on her knees crying, “thank goodness I have not eaten in 3 days…” As the winds buffet us, I hand over the parcel to the so grateful! I look over the wind swept vlaktes I have come to know well in the last few days, going to spaces and places I did not dream I would.
”Hi Kevin it’s Stefanie Morris (Dreaming Nails and Brows) I have 3 food parcels to be delivered please” roars the thick Scottish accent. I turn off Prince Georges drive into Marina Da Gama again. I am getting to know my neighbourhood better than ever even during Lockdown. Stef and Kiam have hearts of gold, have raised a few pounds to purchase and pack their own food parcels. Even though their shop is closed they still have heart to give. You judge people not when they are in abundance but when times are tough, are their hearts and hands open? Stefs and Kiam’s are…
It’s now 16:30, the day has flown past, I head back to Muizenberg to start the Vrygond food run by loading Nirens two giant pots filled with yummy dahl, then head off to the various Muizenberg Can volunteer cooks from Muizenberg to Marina Da Gama to decant their meals into the bulk serving containers. All the correct protocols of non-contact delivery are followed. It is now 18:00 and I waddle over to Overcome Heights with a very overloaded Yaris full of good wholesome food. At Overcome, I am stopped by SAPS who warn me you can’t go in there alone, “are you befok”? I say one thing, “Auntie Fozia”, SAPS wave me on as they know the lion-hearted Auntie Fozia and Yolanda well.
As I cruise down the dusty and sewage puddled streets between the multi coloured shacks I pick up a long tail of excited children who quickly worked out the arrival of the Yaris means dinner is nearly ready. Don’t worry Kevin, just turn right at the blue container and head down the single narrow track between the corrugated homes, you are safe with Auntie Fozia”. I pass kids playing spinning tops in the dust while essential services employed walk proudly in their Nurse, Checkers and Security Guard uniforms. The feeding station marshals help me unload the pots and bulk serving containers as the long feeding queue snakes its way around the bend with children then the elderly first. It is getting dark now and I feel out of place on the dusty alleyways between the corrugated shacks. Fearful I am not, for wherever I trave, I travel with Plumbago or umabophe that Nomvuka(Lyn Van Zyl) has provided me for protection. It’s 9pm and I weave my way through the alleyways out of Overcome onto Princes Georges Drive making a few last deliveries at Costa Da Gama before driving back home. I am exhausted and fulfilled.
Currently chaos is been held in check by a thin line of volunteers risking all on the COVID-19 Frontline with very little support from the system. The COVID-19 Frontline fight is been funded by communities, self-organising networks like The Muizenberg Community Action Network (CAN) and crewed by volunteers. The COVID-19 Frontline is not in hospitals but in towns and townships around South Africa where in the most unequal country on earth poverty is rife and many people are always just one meal from acute hunger. The lockdown has cut off day labourers, bin pickers, casual workers, waiters, char, gardeners, teachers, chefs’ incomes and the liquidity in the informal economy has dried up. Many here are the sole breadwinners in extended family care relationships.