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From homelessness to business booming since lockdown

In commemoration of Women’s Month, MES Johannesburg has committed itself to acknowledge and empower the women housed at our Impilo shelter through a Tea Party that resulted in business booming. Friday, 28th of August 2020, became a hive of activity and excitement at the shelter as all our ladies took part in different activities organised by our volunteers, including Hillsong Africa Foundation, Embark Foundation, Mosaïek, Parkview, Johannesburg and Jenny Currie of Baby2mom Egg Donation who came to impart and teach some skills in MES Johannesburg’s Knitting and Crochetting Project for beneficiaries at Impilo shelter for women. Under the theme of #Shematters initiated by University of Johannesburg, the objective of such event has been literally to make the most vulnerable women found in the inner city feel special and, also to emphasise that they too are important and matter in a society. Of the other skills that were imparted during course of the event, include sewing, beading and cup-cake decoration. Apart from charting a way for women in being financially independent, most definitely, this will help the ladies to take what they learnt and turn it into lifelong skills to assist them to better their lives. MES also appreciate the support received from ABSA South Africa for the generous donation of blankets to our shelter ladies. To the team – thank you so much for blessing us with a delicious nutritious lunch! On behalf of the ladies in our shelters – Thank you to everyone for spending time with us, giving of your skills and talents and for the generous gifts you brought. Please, follow our website to donate wool and get involved in the Knitting and Crochetting Project 2020 :

MES Johannesburg appreciate donors for partaking in #67minutesVirtualChallenge on Mandela Day

It was also a blessing to have various organisations and individuals who came to donate food, soup, clothes, toiletries, and other necessities as part of their Mandela Day activities. Every year the 18th of July, South Africa and the global community commemorate the life and selfless spirit of Nelson Mandela by spending 67 minutes of their time by making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

Gauteng government to consider interested homeless community for internship programmes, entrepreneurship and skills development

MEC CEO Leona Pienaar (left-right) MMC Eunice Mgcina of the City of Johannesburg (COJ), Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD) MEC Dr, Nomathemba Mokgethi interacting with former MES beneficiary and yet Managing Director of Hillbrewed Coffee co Tebogo Mabye (right) during a service delivery blitz at Impilo shelter for women. In recognition of the value added by MES to the inner city and homeless community during Covid-19 lockdown, the Gauteng government has vowed to give first priority of intake in its various internship programmes, funding opportunities and other skills development courses to deserving individuals and graduates based at homeless shelters. On Monday, the 14th of September 2020, MEC for Department of Social Development (DSD), Dr. Nomathemba Mokgethi, alongside MMC Eunice Mgcina of the City of Johannesburg (COJ) - visited MES’s Impilo shelter for women in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, on a service delivery blitz. In collaboration with Gauteng Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) , Department of Health (DoH), National Development Agency (NDA), the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and South African National Council on Alcohol And Drug Dependence (SANCA), this visit intended to explore sustainable strategies for incorporating homeless people back into mainstream society beyond the national lockdown. The MEC and MMC got a chance to interact with MES Johannesburg’s Impilo and Ekhaya shelter beneficiaries, hear their stories; successes and challenges and chart a way forward that will be beneficial for everyone. Apart from committing herself in absorbing those qualified for internship programmes, MEC Mokegthi also vowed to work hand in glove by escalating the knitting and crochetting project started by the women at the shelter since the start of lockdown. ‘’We have seen the beautiful things that you do with your own hands. We are making a commitment that we’ll be coming back. We have also come up with a programme of sewing, I have discussed with the MMC. We can get a building like this where we can put our machines and all of you who are interested so that we can be of assistance as government,” said MEC Dr. Mokgethi. The beneficiaries also got a chance to interact with the different stakeholders; some getting to register for the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant from SASSSA, apply for identity smart cards, as well as register with the Department of Labour for employment opportunities. Leona Pienaar, CEO of Mould Empower Serve (MES) engages with the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) during a special visit to MES' Impilo Shelter. Meanwhile, MES has pleaded with City of Joburg (Coj) over the relatively exorbitant amount of municipal fees to be reduced and suitable for non-profit organisations such as MES.The NPO believes in breaking the culture of handouts. Before Covid the overnight shelter was operated on a small fee per night per bed. Due to Covid19 regulations this was no longer possible. MES stepped up to the challenge and waived the door fees and introduces meals and toiletry packs in ...


JOHANNNESBURG; 15 September, 2020 – In response to the further easing of lockdown regulations, homeless shelters are facing the dilemma of how to sustainably exit beneficiaries who have been housed in the overnight shelters for the past six months. The MEC of Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD), MMC of City of Johannesburg (COJ) and their delegation visited Mould Empower Serve (MES) yesterday (14th September 2020), where they expressed their gratitude for the good work MES does and discussed the way forward regarding the challenges facing the metropolitan cities in the province.

MES shelter ladies knitting their way through the lockdown

As the winter season catches up with South Africans under this exhausting lockdown, the women at MES Johannesburg’s Impilo Hospice have committed to keeping themselves warm by knitting and crocheting, thereby taking advantage of talents they have not used in a long time. The large-scale project follows a large donation of wool to the organisation. The donation was made in kind after MES asked its friends and supporters for items to help those living in the shelters to keep busy whilst under lockdown. The knitting benefits the ladies at the shelter because they are knitting items for themselves, especially for the coming winter.  The ladies also knitted a number of items for two pregnant members of the knitting party. So successful was the project that the knitting group soon finished the large supply of donated wool, leaving it to the MES team to buy more material to keep their hands and minds busy. MES will sell these home-made hats, scarves, gloves, bags and jerseys to earn an income as soon as the lockdown regulations are lifted, with the proceeds going to the participating ladies at Impilo Hospice. MES Johannesburg has shared its insights with other branches as part of its challenge to them, and other shelters, to create similar initiatives that both motivate and financially support the participants, providing a way of reinstating their confidence and dignity.

PE beneficiaries unearthing their potential through lockdown

The national lockdown has given our MES Port Elizabeth beneficiaries an opportunity to belong and to be part of a family. With valuable support from the surrounding communities and donors, lives continue to be changed for the better, and the people are taking an active interest in improving themselves, even after lockdown. MES Port Elizabeth has been a hive of activity during lockdown as the homeless clients have been kept busy with various activities at the shelter and are taking part in spiritual enrichment sessions, empowering each other. Most of our beneficiaries embraced this lockdown period with such positivity that they started taking part in activities that they have never done before. Some are reading, others are doing beadwork, some are doing needlework and making their own facemasks and others are playing games. All of these activities might seem like small things to ordinary people, but they are huge milestones for our beneficiaries. Our beneficiaries are unearthing potential they never knew they had and are developing new hobbies that might help them create better lives after lockdown. We thank all our donors and supporters for their unwavering support towards MES. Having an experienced auxiliary nurse as a shelter client made a big difference in ensuring that we have a first respondent in the shelter, as he graciously helped to take care of both beneficiaries and staff. As COVID-19 continues to ravage the world and with the number of people needing food on the increase, MES Port Elizabeth has been committed to providing nutritious meals three times a day to all the beneficiaries to ensure that their immune systems are boosted.

MES Kempton Park staff speak from experience

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 overnight shelter became a stay-in shelter for homeless people. 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. While MES Kempton Park made a call for the 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 difficult path with us all the way. We see our prayers are being answered every day and every minute, because of your generosity and love. As lockdown continues, we persist in our call for help to those we are looking after. Items like mealie meal, soup, porridge, coffee and tea, milk, protective gear, toiletries, as well as cleaning materials, make a huge difference to us and to the care of our beneficiaries. 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. Here are some of the notes written: “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, by following the rules of the shelter and of the president to be hygienic.” Soul Malatji, professional Social Auxiliary Worker who is part of the team that moved in at the shelter to look after the people, said that although it has been a challenge to deal with clients who are substance dependent, 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, has been worried about COVID-19-related news reports in the media and said she almost lost focus. However, the passion that 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," concludes Luwanda.

MES Cape Town staff and volunteers’ fight for the homeless

On Monday, 20 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 everyone received a health pack, including a facemask, hand sanitiser and something to eat. While Cape Town has recently been declared the epicentre of the virus, some volunteers have taken bold steps to help the homeless. 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 truly a priceless blessing. “I never thought I would be brave enough to volunteer during something like the COVID-19 pandemic battle, especially 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 practise good hygiene and take the precautionary measures prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to safeguard ourselves and those we serve,” said an excited Pule in a video interview. In addition to providing a temporary home to MES Safe Space shelter, more than a thousand meals are provided daily to homeless people living on the streets. This mammoth task would be impossible without the volunteers who help us cook, clean and serve every single day!

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