Riedwaan Blake from the Parkwood Collaborating Aid and Support (PCAS), based at Masjied us Sabr mosque, says lockdown has been a “blessing in disguise” for the Parkwood community and surrounding areas.
He has seen a transformation in his community and says there has been no looting, rioting or uproar during the daily delivery of food while the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 has been in place.
Mr Blake, who has been living in Parkwood for more than 40 years, said the initiative was started after he and community and religious leaders of the Muslim and Christian faiths brainstormed to find ways to feed the community during the period of restricted movement.
They conducted a survey two days before lockdown, which started on Friday March 27, and started providing almost 1 000 families a meal every day.
However, he said the list has grown to 4 000 families.
“We contacted the South African Red Cross Society and asked for assistance in distributing the food such as bread and polony, to our community because we do not have an essential services permit to drive around.
“The first 14 days of lockdown we fed the community every day. But when it was announced that it would be extended for another two weeks we decided to supply food every second day.”
Mr Blake said he was amazed by the commitment of the 60 marshals they had chosen to man every street or block of flats. “They have been empowered to take responsibility and to ensure that the people in their block get something to eat, delivered personally.”
Mr Blake said trucks from the SA Red Cross Society had been making sure each marshal gets a list of names of the families with their meals from 10.30am.
David Stephens, spokesperson of SA Red Cross Society, said the PCAS consulted them to help out, however, they also assisted the community by providing them leadership team training, health and safety training as well as helping the marshals with the door-to-door delivery.
“At the leadership team training, we showed them how not to cross contaminate and we covered safety issues as well.”
Every week the Red Cross team had a session to re-educate the community leaders and marshals on health and safety issues for their own protection, for example, how to use their masks, how to handle food, etc.
Mr Stephens said it is important to educate the community on how to be empowered to help themselves. “Teach the community not only to depend on hand-outs.”
They also offer weekly or monthly training on how to work with your money.
“Those who have money would be learning how to shop and where they can get low cost delivery and so on. We also have monthly first aid courses.”
However, the feeding still continues for the less fortunate and Mr Blake said so far they have distributed 60 000 loaves of bread.
“We have no corporate sponsorship, but the funds come from the mosque fund-raisers.
Anyone who would like to donate, can call Mr Blake on 081 435 7233.