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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