Great things happen when compassion responds to need
Although the focus has been placed on realistic facts surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, like the number of deaths and reported positive cases, stories about random acts of kindness have also surfaced in the media.
Some landlords reduced tenants’ rent during lockdown. A shop owner in Cape Town put together hygiene packs with hand sanitiser, a mask, soap and liquid disinfectant which he gave away, free of charge, to anyone aged over 65. There were people who created food and care packages to distribute to the elderly or indigent.
Another ‘feel good’ story is about a 14 year old boy who got up at 4 am every morning to help bake bread for charities and NGOs. This teenager lives at Nkosi’s Haven Village in Alan Manor, in the south of Johannesburg. This care facility is a residency for mothers, children and orphans affected by HIV/Aids. They decided to push aside their own needs and have been baking 450 loaves a day for others in need.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Mother Teresa, the famous Roman Catholic nun who dedicated her life to caring for the destitute, said: ‘If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one’. At TWK in the Piet Retief area, a surplus of maize which was originally donated to the drought assistance project – a project launched earlier this year by Grain SA in cooperation with various other agricultural businesses throughout South Africa – has made it possible to feed not just one, but hundreds of hungry people in this area.
Jurie Mentz, development coordinator in Louwsburg, was contacted by TWK in May about the excess maize. After a meeting between the donors, TWK and Grain SA, the decision was made to help alleviate hunger during the lockdown. To cover the cost of milling and packaging the maize, TWK would hold back some of the maize. Before long 70 tons of white maize was converted to 50 tons of maize meal and ready for distribution thanks to the cooperation of generous farmers, a caring community, TWK and Grain SA.
Timon Filter, a mentor and trainer of the Grain SA Farmer Development Programme was involved in missionary work for several years in the Piet Retief area. Through his community involvement and unity crusades he had come to know the spiritual leaders in the area. This was the ideal way to compile a list of names of people in dire straits. Furthermore, churches, old age homes and other institutions were also asked to provide information. ‘We also asked the study group leaders to send in names of people in the more rural areas that needed food,’ Timon added.
Currently the bags are being stored at a church in Piet Retief and one of the members who owns a truck offered to help with the transportation and distribution of some of the maize. The other maize meal is distributed through study groups, churches, schools and old age homes.
Although Grain SA managed the project, it was definitely teamwork that made the difference. ‘It gives me goose bumps to see the way everything just fell into place,’ says Jurie.
GROWING NEED, THANKFUL HEARTS
Timon shares that donations were also made to families in Amsterdam, a small town about 60 km from Piet Retief. ‘Of the 178 families who were identified as being in need, 98 of them were in dire straits and have also benefitted by the donation.’
For June 13,5 tons of maize meal was distributed, but the need is growing the longer lockdown continues. Jurie and Timon believe that the need for food will increase, and trust that there will be enough to help until circumstances in the country have improved.
To Timon this project is bringing people together. ‘It is humbling to see how people are getting involved and trying to help.’ It is even more humbling to receive WhatsApp messages and emails expressing gratitude.
Jerry Mthombothi, Grain SA development coordinator at the Nelspruit office, recently made the team aware of the need in his area. The farmers in the Piet Retief area kindly donated 10 tons which will be distributed over a period of five months, 2 tons per month.
Please remember, that you too can make a difference no matter how small. Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness.
MESSAGES OF APPRECIATION
Here are two messages of appreciation received by Timon from pastors who distributed food amongst their congregations:
- ‘I just want to send my appreciation to you and all the farmers who have donated such needed supplies to our communities. It is a welcome assistance and the people are so appreciative. I am delivering already and there is so much need. I’m heading to Ishwepe now to drop off the last supply. Please pass our appreciation to all farmers and may God bless them.’
- ‘Thanks for the meal contributions. I just added a few things as you can see. I bought some cabbages as well. Timon, wellspring and whoever is involved in making a difference in people’s life, this means a lot in our ministry.’
Some of the people who benefitted from the feeding programme thanks to generous producers in the Piet Retief area who were assisted by Grain SA and TWK.
Publication: September 2020