National news and branch news, MES newsletters

83 unemployed youth join the Presidency’s Social Employment Fund

MES Joburg sign up 83 unemployed youngsters as part of the Presidency's Social Employment Fund MES Johannesburg is pleased to partner with the Johannesburg Inner City Partnership (JICP) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) on the Johannesburg Inner City Social Employment Programme (JICSEP) Social Employment Fund (SEF) roll-out. "We are honoured as this shows that MES Johannesburg is recognised as an agent of change, adding value to common national interest and notion of nation building. This is, once again, an opportunity to mould, empower, and serve our unemployed youth," said MES Johannesburg Branch Manager, Rev. Nicodemus Setshedi. Through the JICSEP, MES has signed up more than 80 members of the youth. Among them are graduates and unemployed youngsters from disadvantaged communities, stationed across the different Focus Groups in the organisation. SEF forms part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) which has been established to enable the Office of the Presidency, through the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (DTIC), as a conduit to providing grants to support social economic activities in communities, while reducing the scourge of youth unemployment in South Africa. As appointed by the Office of the Presidency, the IDC acts for and on behalf of the highest office as an agent. They identify strategic partners to assist in managing the funds allocated to the selected activities and the administration of SEF. IDC has identified JICSEP as one such strategic partner, who identified MES and other partners to contribute towards achieving the SEF objectives. Rev. Setshedi said it would be ideal and interesting to have the programme run for more than 12 months with an increased stipend.

Gqeberha (PE) completes water tank project

MES Gqeberha beats Day Zero with help from Gift of the Givers The countdown for Nelson Mandela Bay taps to run dry has ended for the MES Gqeberha branch in the Eastern Cape province. This follows a swift intervention by Gift of the Givers, responding to our call for sponsorship into the whole project - from drilling a water borehole - to installation of a running water system, connecting more than four (4) of the 5 000 litres of water tanks, donated in our building. "Our vulnerable and homeless clients will now breathe a sigh of relief after days of hardship in the province. We are grateful to have Gift of the Givers come on board and rescue the situation," said MES Gqeberha Branch Manager, Ronny Naude. In addition, private donors and the Robert Niven Trust also significantly contributed to the water tanks and infrastructure development. Situated at 1 Hiles Street in Korsten, MES Gqeberha accommodates more than 100 homeless clients in our Safe Spaces and shelter. The centre offers a restoration programme, counselling through our social workers, as well as a community soup outreach to those still living on the street. MES Gqeberha sells second-hand clothing at our Thrift shop, which can only benefit from your pre-loved clothing, to help us build an exciting shopping experience for our customers.

MES social workers safeguard the rights of children

The Mould Empower Serve Social Work Services (SWSs) says they will do their utmost best as their responsibility to protect children from any acts of violence, exploitation, and abuse which may render them becoming homeless. The organisation made the remarks on Thursday, the 2nd of June, during the commemoration of Child Protection Week held at Laerskool Primary in Claremont, south of Johannesburg. Under the national theme “Let us Protect Children during COVID-19 and Beyond” led by Department of Social Development (DSD), Child Protection Week is marked annually between 29 May till 05 June, to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and Children's Act No. 38 of 2005. As for MES Johannesburg’s Social Worker, Bongani Nxumalo, has encouraged an audience of more than two hundred Grade 6 and 7 Laerskool Primary learners to say no to the use of drugs, as well as, engaging in sexual activities at a young age. Nxumalo stressed the need for collective enforcement in rooting out so-called “blessers”, the adults who are involved in sexual activities with children in exchange for money or material items. “It is the duty of the learners to enjoy their childhood, and not allow obstacles such as drugs, and abuse to determine their future. Blessers are messing up with the future which is in the hands of children,” said Nxumalo. With the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour held recently and hosted by South African government in Durban between 15 and 20 May, Nxumalo condemned with strongest possible terms practices of child labour that are still prevalent in Africa involving 160 million children. Meanwhile, Captain Thomas De Bruyn, of Sophiatown Police Station in Johannesburg invigorated the pupils to report to their teachers any acts of bullying and selling of drugs which may be taking place in the school. While encouraging the learners to take their schoolwork as seriously as their future, the captain maintained that children should be regarded as angels and not criminals. “Do not think you’re too young not to get arrested. We have a juvenile prison designed specifically for young people like you, who may fail to be disciplined and involve themselves in illegal activities,” beamed Captain De Bruyn. The Child Protection Day commemoration featured Mosala Kelefetswe, a 34-year-old retired drug addict who gave testimony to learners about his past miserable life of drugs and criminal activities. Kelefetswe confessed to the audience that while he became homeless because of indulgence in drugs, he and his friends would steal and rob people in the inner city of Johannesburg. Interestingly, through the help of MES in 2013, Kelefetswe was rehabilitated through South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), where he’s now a changed heart. Kelefetswe is now a Social Auxiliary Work student at the Joburg Child Welfare and is expected to graduate in July 2022. “Firstly, I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and saviour. There are different activities one can ...

Cape Town’s Lion Club turned Centre of Hope in Durbanville

One would think that December resembles ending off, rest and winding down...well, not for us! December meant the opening and renovating of our new Centre of Hope in Durbanville.  In our world, December meant starting things, working hard, and winding up! After two years of prayer for a place within Durbanville, the City of Cape Town granted us the use of the old Lions Club which became a reality during the festive season. By the grace and goodness of God, we received an empty building with one desk, filled with potential and hope. We jumped in and started sourcing everything we needed to operate, reaching out to churches, schools, local businesses and community members. Our Durbanville community was simply amazing. Our GROW teams grew every day, we prepared meals, shared stories and had so much fun! On Christmas day, we served a fully cooked lunch with gammon, roast potatoes, fresh salads and much more. Tables were decorated to the brim and many of our clients enjoyed their first Christmas lunch at a beautifully set table with a filling lunch. We could not bear the thought of closing our Centre of Hope so continued serving our clients over the festive days. The new year started off with a bang! We implemented daily workshops, the Meal Voucher system, and started teaching values and speaking about dreams. Our GROW team also had their first Brightstar training sessions where life skills were taught, and hope was restored. Our aim with the Centre of Hope is to get businesses, churches and communities to take hands. We are currently engaging with the City of Cape Town, neighbourhood watches, churches, schools and businesses to create a network where positive change can be brought to Durbanville. It is amazing to see how willing and open people are to get involved. Our renovations are ongoing and we thank you for partnering with us in our dream to restore that which the Lord has placed in the lives of those around us. Your support makes our work and the change that you witness in the lives of our people possible. We look forward to what lies ahead in 2021. Cape Town After School Programme (ASP) kicks-off for the new academic year Our After School Program (or ASP) has restarted for the 2021 school year. Here we support parents by providing a safe place where their children can be given a balanced meal, educational support, and fun activities to keep them occupied away from the busy inner city. Our goal is to not only look after these children, but also instill in them the love of God and teach them biblical values, while also supporting them in any way they need whether it be emotional, spiritual or educational. Building relationship with residents through community dinner Our Durbanville Centre of Hope, in partnership with local churches and small businesses, has started a community dinner initiative where individuals from all walks of life can sit around the same table to share a ...

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.

Gqeberha (PE) beneficiaries discover their potential

The national lockdown has given our MES Gqeberha 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 Gqeberha 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 Gqeberha 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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