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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!

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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