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Winter clothing products manufactured by homeless women sheltered at MES Johannesburg’s Impilo shelter in Jeppestown

As the winter season hooks up with S. Africans under this enervating lockdown, the women at MES Johannesburg’s Impilo shelter have committed to keeping themselves warm by knitting and crocheting and in adversely tapping into a talent that many have let lie dormant for a long time. According to MES National Fundraising and Marketing Manager, Zama Ndlovu, this was an activity initiated by the organisation, shortly after wool was donated when MES made a request for donation of activity items, to help the vulnerable living in the shelters keep busy whilst on lockdown under threat of Covid-19 pandemic. “The knitting benefits the ladies at the shelter because they are knitting items for themselves especially for the winter coming up. There is always something positive that happens in ones heart when you attempt a new skill and complete a beautiful product. It has given them a sense of belonging and achieving in a time it was most needed. The nice thing is that they are also knitting some baby stuff for the two ladies who are pregnant,” said Ndlovu. While Ndlovu admitted that after seeing the interest and talent that the ladies had for the knitting and crocheting, MES made a special appeal again for wool for the ladies in order to keep the project going and to keep the ladies motivated. Two friends of MES started collected wool and got donations to purchase more wool and MES would like to thank Therese de Frey and Erna Dreyer for mobilisation their networks. MES is aiming to sell these products in order for the women to make money for themselves, as soon as the lockdown regulations are lifted. Among clothing products made by homeless women at Impilo include; scarves, hats, gloves, bags, blankets and jerseys. The next dream is to start a sewing project as well, but we need at least 3-5 machines to get the project started. With this in mind, MES JHB is extending the challenge to all MES shelters across the country's inner cities to start programmes and activities that will be of benefit to the beneficiaries and offer a way of reinstating their confidence and dignity.

Social Auxiliary Worker at MES Kempton Park

MES Kempton Park staff have been in the front line of serving the Ekurhuleni's inner city from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. The over-night shelter became a stay-in shelter for people who did not have a place to stay. The experience of serving the homeless and vulnerable during this difficult time continues to give the staff faith in the goodness of humanity and the generosity of people who continue to take from what they have to donate to those who do not have. "While MES Kempton Park has made the call for donation of items to keep the shelter running and people fed, we want our donor community to know that we are keeping them in our prayers during this difficult time. We are very aware that this pandemic has affected everyone, which might result in more people becoming vulnerable when it is all over. As a branch we also want to commend our community and our donors, for being absolutely amazing. You have been committed and walked the round with us, all the way. Our prayers are being answered every day and every minute, because of your generosity and love. As lockdown continues we continue to call for help for those we are looking after. Items like mealie meal, soup, porridge, coffee/ tea, milk, protective gear, toiletries as well as cleaning materials make a huge difference to us and to the care of our beneficiaries." commented Aloma Swanepoel, Fundraising and Marketing Manager. The work done by the staff does not get lost on those who are staying at the shelter. They take every chance they get to show their gratitude by taking part in the upkeep of the shelter and even writing letters to the staff. Among the notes written included messages such as the following: “Unexpectedly we are surviving by the grace of God. We got all the meals, everything.” “This has been a life changing experience. As we have learnt about keeping ourselves safe and following the rules of the shelter and of the president to keep hygienic.” Soul Malatji - professional Social Auxiliary Worker who is part of the team that has moved in at the shelter to look after the people, said that although it has been a challenge to deal with clients who are dependent on substances like tobacco, alcohol and even drugs, they’ve learnt how to maintain order and are doing their best to ensure that the virus does not spread. Luwanda Conco, MES Kempton Park Office Admin and Fundraising and Marketing Assistant who has been worried about Covid-19 related news reports in the media said that says that she almost lost focus. However, the passion which her colleagues have shown is what keeps her going. “I am amazed at the creativity and commitment of my colleagues; in finding ways to continue serving our communities and changing hearts in these difficult times."

Elderly homeless beneficiaries at MES Port Elizabeth feeling at home during physical exercise in minimizing chances of getting ill from corona virus

The lockdown period has given our MES Port Elizabeth beneficiaries a chance to belong and to be part of a family. With the support from the surrounding communities and donors, lifes continue to be changed for the better and the people are taking an active interest in improving themselves, even after the lockdown period. According to branch manager, Theresa Jaquire, MES Port Elizabeth has been a hive of activity throughout the Lockdown period as the homeless clients have been keeping busy with various activities at the shelter and taking part in spiritual enrichment sessions empowering each other. “Most of our beneficiaries have embraced this lockdown period with such positivity; they have started taking part in activities they have never done before. Some are reading, others are doing beadwork, some are undertaking needlework and making their own masks and others are playing games. All of these activities might seem like small things for you and I, but they are huge milestones for our beneficiaries, as they are unearthing potentials they never knew they had and they are also developing new hobbies that might help them create better lives after this lockdown period. We thank all our donors and supporters for your unwavering support towards MES,” said Jaquire. Having an experienced auxiliary nurse as a shelter client has also been a huge help in ensuring that we have a first respondent in the shelter, as he graciously helps with taking care of both beneficiaries and staff. As Covid-19 endemic continues to ravage the world and the people needing food increases, MES Port Elizabeth has been committed to providing nutritious meals three times a day to all the beneficiaries to boosting their immune system.

MES Cape Town volunteers hard at work serving hundreds of homeless people from Bellville and Parow in the Western Cape province

Giving a helping hand to the destitute in this time of uncertainty amid Covid-19 pandemic could be deemed one and most difficult task to do. But, for some individuals at MES Cape Town, this has been a calling to keep safe and protect the most vulnerable people of the country. Currently, MES Cape Town has more than fifty volunteers, who have been at the forefront of serving more than 1000 meals provided daily to homeless people at Safe Space shelter and those still living in the streets. As for this mammoth task would be impossible without the volunteers who help us cook, clean, and serve every single day! Caroline Pule a medical scientist and an aspiring philanthropist, who has been a godsend volunteer says that, being part of the MES volunteer team has been humbling and meaningful in many ways. According to Pule, serving the destitute is a such a priceless blessing. “As I never thought I would be brave enough to volunteer especially during COVID-19 pandemic battle, with the knowledge of how serious the disease is. But I’ve learnt a lot about what it means to have a heart of service, to be selfless and care about the health and well-being of others.We ensure we practice good hygiene and take the WHO precaution measures to safeguard ourselves and those we serve,” beamed Pule in a video interview. On Monday the 20th of April 2020, MES Cape Town assisted the City of Cape Town in placing over 125 homeless people into a safe space provided by the city. Each person’s temperature was taken and received a pack including a mask, hand sanitizer and something to eat. While Cape Town has recently been declared the epicenter of the virus, another volunteer who opted to remain anonymous said that, volunteering has helped him develop kindness for needy people. “For the first two weeks serving food was like swimming upstream. We shouted orders, enforced lines and attempted social distancing. We knew we were not succeeding and often panicked. Then I saw a photo of children sitting in lines. We implemented it and relief work became easier,” said anonymous. As for anonymous, Covid-19 has left a trail of untold experiences - getting to discover stories of homeless people. This has also taught anonymous about the mighty power of God in valuing His people.

SERVING THE INNER CITY AND HOMELESS COMMUNITY DURING COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

JOHANNNESBURG – As our country grapples with the growing number of confirmed cases of people infected with the Corona virus (Covid-19), Non-profit organisations (NPOs) are faced with the challenge of how to operate in a very sensitive time. Inner city NPO Mould Empower Serve (MES), operating in Hillbrow, Cape Town, Kempton Park and Port Elizabeth, is facing these real challenges as they continue to serve the homeless and vulnerable inner city communities. NPOs across the country are faced with a huge struggle to help fulfil the very basic survival needs of the homeless and vulnerable people in South Africa’s cities with interventions for food, shelter, protection from harsh weather and overcoming other pressures in their daily living. “There is a whole community of people who might not even be aware of what is happening around them – the homeless community. They make up over 100 000 people in Johannesburg alone and are found at every street corner, every park and homeless shelters,” says Leona Pienaar, Chief Executive Officer of MES. In most cases, the homeless communities are often subject to many communicable or pre-existing illnesses already. They often include elderly people and very young children, and some are people living in conditions of utter desperation that make them vulnerable to a myriad of illnesses. “MES faces the real tough choices of whether to quarantine the people they serve, the challenge on how to protect staff and volunteers, or whether to shut down operations completely until the pandemic subsides, says Pienaar. “It is organisations like MES that operate in the inner cities across the country whose mission it is to support the homeless and the destitute who are taking the initiative to answer these critical questions,” she says. “Even with the track record of looking out for the destitute for so many years, a pandemic like this new Corona Virus, makes it extremely difficult for us to do what we are called to do” states Pienaar. “In our care, we have little children in our ECD centres, we have learners in our Training Centres and After School Programmes, we have older people in our shelters, in our canteens we have volunteers serving meals daily,” she adds. “There are so many questions facing us as an organisation. I can imagine that so many of my NPO colleagues across the country are asking themselves the same questions” states Pienaar. In President Cycril Ramaphosa’s recent address the nation, he emphasised that this is a time that we need to work together to get to a solution for this pandemic. If we are not strategic and quell the fears of our people, the Corona Virus will have a far-reaching impact on all of us, especially on those who are poor and destitute. MES is concerned with this impact and on what can be done to protect and educate the homeless community about Covid-19. WHAT MES IS DOING TO MITIGATE THE RISKS MES has been supporting the homeless, marginalised and destitute in the inner cities of South

SERVING THE INNER CITY AND HOMELESS COMMUNITY DURING COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

JOHANNNESBURG – In the fight against the Coronavirus Covid-19 (Covid-19), thousands of homeless and vulnerable people in the city are faced with a great safety dilemma – where to self-isolate in order to avoid the spread of the virus. Inner city NPO Mould Empower Serve (MES), which operates in Hillbrow, Cape Town, Kempton Park and Port Elizabeth, has stepped in to help the marginalised people of these inner cities during this critical time. Since the official announcement by president Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a national lockdown, MES has kept its shelter operations and food distribution points open to help the high numbers of vulnerable people who came to their doorstep for assistance. The call for all citizens to stay at home in order to help flatten-the-curve of the Covid-19 has proven effective when implemented in other countries across the world, however, South Africa also hosts hundreds of thousands of homeless people with no place to find shelter even under normal circumstances, especially those in the inner-city metropolitan areas in the country. “There is a whole community of over 100 000 homeless people in Johannesburg alone who are often subject to many communicable or pre-existing illnesses already, and yet have no place to self-isolate,” says Leona Pienaar, Chief Executive Officer of MES. The NPO reports that there has been significant progress since their initial appeal to the public for donations and is thankful for the support. “So far we have been able to distribute food parcels to vulnerable families in our care, we waived fees for creche parents for April, keep our shelters open, clean and safe, and offered healthy meals to those residing in our shelters during this period and we are extremely grateful for the support!” she says. “Both our shelters in Johannesburg are operating at full capacity, as well as the one in Kempton Park and in Port Elizabeth. The Cape Town shelter is also at full capacity with a waiting list of over 300 people,” Pienaar states. “We have been working with the Department of Social Development officials across the country to take in more people at all our shelters. I. support of the City of Johannesburg, we opened up our Impilo facility in Hillbrow (formerly a HIV/Aids hospice) as an additional facility to accommodate a new intake of homeless women and disabled people,” she adds. Thirty clients including eight with disabilities were placed at the facility over the weekend. “Unfortunately, fifteen of the women decided to leave the premises due to drug withdrawal symptoms. However, we have eight women that are now on the SANCA programme as they are determined to make a change,” Pienaar states. MES stated they will continue to place women at the shelter, thirty at a time to settle them in until they reach the facility’s capacity of one hundred. HOW CAN THE PUBLIC GET INVOLVED? MES is appealing to the general public and all organisations for assistance during this critical time in order to fully capacitate the additional emergency shelter. Public can

JOIN US ON 17 MAY FOR HILLBROW UNPLUGGED WINTER WANDER

You are invited to join MES on 17 May for the twelfth annual Hillbrow Unplugged Winter Wander gala fundraising event. Featuring award-wining performances by Samantha Peo and Clifford Cooper in their cabaret-style production Soulfire and Fireflies, DECA’s striking instrumental arrangements, and special guest Deshun Deysel, all contributing to celebrating the work of MES. Tickets for the evening are being sold for R10 000 a table of ten guests, or R1000 per individual guest. All proceeds from the evening will go toward the continuation of MES' work. For more information, please contact Leona Pienaar on 011 725 6531 or leona@mes.org.za READ MORE

HILLBROW UNPLUGGED BRINGS HOPE TO THE HEART OF URBAN COMMUNITIES

Last night the inner city organisation Mould Empower Serve (MES) celebrated their achievements of the last 31 years and showcase their services to the challenged communities in the South African metropolitan cities at the twelfth MES Hillbrow Unplugged fundraiser event held in the heart of Hillbrow. The night featured an inspirational talk by special guest speaker and adventurer Deshun Deysel as well as award-wining performances by Samantha Peo and Clifford Cooper in their cabaret-style production Soulfire and Fireflies and DECA’s striking instrumental arrangements; all contributing to celebrate the life-changing work of MES. Wenzile Madonsela, from the Thuli Madonsela Foundation (Thuma), was the programme director for the night. “We would like to extend a tremendous heartfelt thank you to all our guests, organisers, entertainers and staff who made the evening another exquisite affair and an overwhelming success” says Rev. Alan Childs, CEO of MES. “Hillbrow Unplugged has been a part of the MES events calendar since 2007, and each year it keeps getting bigger and better!” READ MORE

MES KEMPTON PARK – SPONSOR A LOCKER, FOR ONLY R500

Every shelter client needs a safe space, where he or she can lock away valuables, every evening. The current lockers, unfortunately, have deteriorated, and need to be replaced. If you would like to make a contribution, please let us know. Our banking details are: ABSA Bank Savings Account: 922 865 7779 Branch code: 632 005 Reference: Surname and Locker

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