No time for donor fatigue – poverty is worse than ever
“The situation in South Africa is more desperate than ever. The need for food security and employment is greater than ever, and government social-support grants have become a necessity,” says Marc Lubner, the chief executive of Afrika Tikkun. “If it weren’t for the addition of the R350 per month special grant, I believe there would be rioting in the streets of the townships.”
Like many other local charities, this organisation is being stretched to the limit as the second wave of the pandemic sweeps across the country. The number of desperate South Africans continues to rise daily, and while charities are busier than ever, they’re struggling to cope with the demand.
“Our charity efforts are more active than ever before,” says Lubner. “In fact, we’re targeting a 12% increase in our 2021 budget over our 2020 budget.”
Yakima Waner, founder and chairperson at non-profit organisation (NPO) The Harvest Project, says that the organisation has doubled in size and scope in the past six months.
“We have reached the maximum that our NPO can, and still we are pushed further,” she says. “All our initiatives are active at the moment, and we have started some more. All souls have been affected.”
A preparatory school, children’s feeding scheme, and animal rescue which fall under The Harvest Project’s umbrella are constantly in need of resources and struggle to cope with demand.
“During COVID-19, I saw how the virus brought everyone to their knees,” says Waner. “In many cases, money did still protect you, but at the same time it also became obsolete. We deal with a community which is completely hand to mouth – it works and recycles today, and will eat tonight.”
In the time that has passed since the first wave, charities have also increased their range of initiatives in order to help people in different ways. Angel Network founder Glynne Wolman says the organisation has gone beyond provision of food.
“We have learnt how to handle the food crisis more effectively and have partnered with suppliers so that everything runs far more smoothly,” she says. “We also have a much better idea of who we are helping, which saves time and makes it easier.
“We aren’t just focusing on hunger relief anymore. We’re getting involved in bringing solar-powered geysers to communities, sanitising pit toilets, and developing vegetable gardens to make communities self-sustainable.
“The need is sadly relentless,” Wolman says. “Far more people are without jobs and support, and often they have nowhere to turn, unlike our community which offers an enormously wide net of support.”
The second wave has also brought with it the threat of fewer donations, with people giving less to charities than they did during the first wave last year.
Says Lubner, “There were a number of really remarkable high-net-worth individuals and foundations that gave considerably during the first wave, and it’s not clear whether they will continue their support or at what levels.”
It’s concerning that this generosity might not be available during the second wave, where the need is actually greater, he says.
“We must remember that many companies paid out retrenchments, which would have been utilised by the end of the first quarter of 2021,” says Lubner. “Now, millions who have lost their jobs will be without an income and much hope as there doesn’t seem to be a game plan for the rebuilding of the economy.”
Waner agrees, saying that during the first wave, food distribution was a problem, and the role of larger organisations such as the South African Jewish Board of Deputies was pivotal in helping the charity reach more people.
“Without it we would never have been able to bring salvation to so many,” says Waner. “We will forever be grateful because it’s a tough sight to see grown men cry of hunger.”
However, the situation is more challenging now.
“The position we find ourselves in now is daunting because it’s the aftermath of war. After growth, you have further to fall,” she says. “We have many lives that rely on us for aid, and now you have made them a promise that they will never go hungry again.
“To keep to that promise is tough, especially now that the funding that was meant to help a pandemic which no one thought would last this duration has begun to dry up. People donated large, life-changing amounts of money, and it was used in the moment to make a difference, but we didn’t think for the future.”
Wolman, however, says that her organisation hasn’t experienced any donor fatigue.
“We are extremely fortunate in that we have been able to build up a reputation in the past five years so that donors know and trust us,” she says. “We haven’t really felt the effects of donor fatigue, but what has changed is that many corporates are now approaching us to get involved, something that has never happened before.
“I think people want to make a difference, and are aware of how hard life can be for so many.”
As South Africa continues to battle the pandemic, Lubner predicts that many charities will fall away due to lack of funding in the coming year and there is likely to be a merger or strategic alliance between a number of NPOs.
“A strategic collaboration between nongovernment organisations (NGOs), government, and private sectors can have a material impact as service delivery can be optimised,” he says. “For far too long, these entities haven’t worked in a co-ordinated manner and there has been duplicity and redundancies. If the commercial and private sector were to plan with NGO service delivery partners, there would certainly be a better utilisation of corporate social investment funding.
“The collaboration between private sector, government, and NGOs could have a far greater impact on South Africa’s destiny. We can turn this terrible crisis to good if we realise that we are more effective working together than apart.”
Lubner, Waner, and Wolman have urged the community to continue to support those in need, whether by donating to existing initiatives or just offering support where needed.
“Just show someone that you are there for them,” says Waner. “Show that support, that no one is alone in this crisis.
“If every one of us helps another person in whatever way, it will spread love and compassion that will automatically change lives.”
PURIM WHAT’S ON
See what is happening in your area for Purim.
Chevrah Kadisha: The Greatest Purim Drive-Thru! The Chevrah Kadisha is throwing open its doors at its premises in Long Avenue, Glenhazel, for the first time in a year to give you the Greatest Purim Show. On 26 February, from 11:30 to 15:00. Drive through the winding maze to see mind-blowing acts and attractions, all from the comfort and safety of your car! Lots of surprises and competitions for the whole family in this free Purim extravaganza.
Sydenham Shul: SydShul’s Spectacular Purim Carousel. Between 12:45 and 14:00 on Friday, 26 February at Sydenham Shul (enter at Main Street balloon arch). Free of charge, all welcome. Kids gifts and a raffle.
Ladies Purim Shiur (on Zoom): “Purim – a story of self-transformation” with Rebbetzin Estee Stern. Sunday, 28 February, 09:30. Meeting ID: 813 028 4050. Password: sydshul
Great Park Shul: Has an exciting COVID-19-safe carnival, with balloons, treats, and lots more. Friday, 26 February from 14:00. Book your children for the best fun ever! Go to the Facebook page, Great Park Shul, for more information or to book.
Greenside Shul: Women For Women – reading of Megillat Esther outside. At 14:30 on Friday, 26 February. RSVP shul office 011 788 5036.
Chabad of Greenstone: COVID-19 friendly Megillah readings on 25 February at 19:00 and 26 February at 17:00. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Sandton Shul: Sandton Shul presents a fun, COVID-19-friendly Purim drive-thru and car dress up on 26 February. Dress up your car to win prizes. Chip n dip and slush available. From 12:45 to 14:00. Here’s the internet link for all Megillah readings in Johannesburg: http://bit.ly/Purim5781_2021
Benevolent to the fore
For the past 128 years, the Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society (JWBS) has been working under the radar, assisting those in our community in need. However, since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, it has come to the forefront.
To date, the JWBS has provided more than 3 000 packs of essential winter and summer clothing. Since March 2020, it has donated funds to Africa Tikkun for sanitiser and masks; the Chevrah Kadisha for purchase of personal protective equipment; and Camp Kesher for activities and security. It also sponsored Yad Aharon’s soup kitchen for a week.
Beautiful blankets, in conjunction with nonprofit organisation Warm The World, have been knitted by our talented group of knitters; and the elderly and lonely received gifts and activity packs.
Boxes of books were given to various facilities in Johannesburg and to Jaffa Jewish Aged Home in Pretoria. Some residents have even started their own book clubs.
The men who work so tirelessly at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg received vouchers and gifts from the JWBS. Arrow, the German shepherd security dog and his handlers at Westpark were spoiled too.
All this and much more has been accomplished since the start of lockdown by the hard work and dedication of our staff and volunteers. The generosity of the community has enabled us to fulfil this vital task. We ask you to please partner with us so that we may continue to help those who need assistance during this difficult time.
Jews around the world call for Moshiach
For 3 000 years, Jews have been praying for Moshiach (the messiah) to come, but this weekend, the Jewish world is upping its game with a communal prayer demanding that “G-d send Moshiach now”.
So says Rabbi David Masinter, who heads up Chabad House in Johannesburg, and who is behind the prayer to be said at 18:00 (South African time) on Sunday, 21 February.
“One thing COVID-19 has taught us is how vulnerable we all are,” says Masinter. “It’s been a time of introspection. It’s a time of realisation that we need Moshiach. This is how this worldwide Moshiach project was borne.”
According to Masinter, a businessman in Miami came up with the idea, and a universal prayer was formulated.
“Two powerful ways to hasten the coming of Moshiach is through unity of our nation and charity. Therefore, we are encouraging everyone to stop what they are doing, say this worldwide prayer together, and give a little charity at the same time. When Jews all around the world band together for a shared goal, the power is immeasurable.”
Masinter says belief in the coming of Moshiach is a fundamental principle of the Torah, and that we have to yearn for him to come. “This is one of the fundamental principles of our faith,” he says.
“We believe that one day, Moshiach will come, and g-dliness will be revealed on earth. There will be no more war, no more suffering. There will be peace among nations.”
The following prayer should be said at 18:00 on Sunday, 21 February:
“Master of the universe
We, your beloved children
United together around the world at this moment
Are crying out to you in prayer
Please accept this prayer with grace and kindness
We sincerely thank you for all your daily blessings,
But we implore you from the depths of our hearts
To send Moshiach immediately to redeem us with mercy,
From this long exile and suffering
And to bring peace to the world
We can’t wait anymore!
We desire your great name to be revealed
Your dominion in the entire world
And your presence returned to the Beit Hamikdash – the Holy Temple – now!”
“SHMA YISRAEL AD-ONAY EL-O-HAYNU AD-ONAY ECHAD
HEAR OH ISRAEL, THE L-RD IS OUR G-D, THE L-RD IS ONE”
- For more information, go to www.wewantmoshiachnow.net
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