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Women of Elsenburg Fight Child Hunger During COVID-19, Providing Food Parcels to the Most Vulnerable

In the Winelands district of the Western Cape, one community has taken COVID-19 humanitarian relief into their own hands.

Throughout lockdown, residents of the small farming community of Elsenburg outside Stellenbosch watched on their television screens how people in the more urban areas fought for government food parcels. Community members say they never got any of these parcels.

So, a local community organisation, Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement, stepped up and took action. The organisation provided food parcels and meals to the most vulnerable in their own and neighbouring communities.

During the hard lockdown, many women in this community lost their jobs as farm workers, but did everything in their power to shield their children from facing extreme hunger.

Ouma Magrieta Van Rooyen is one of them.

As the summer sun beats down on the brick houses of the small farm community her smile spills over the upper corners of her mask. She tells Spotlight about a young boy who goes door to door asking for food, but as the lockdown got longer, his meal requests became more specific. If she gave him bread with jam, he wanted it with peanut butter; she says laughing. Or if she gave the bread with peanut butter, he had the cheek to ask for cheese and tomato; she adds. No matter the case - be it jam or peanut butter- Van Rooyen like the other women in this community, always ensure that the children are fed.

"Any mother would," exclaims Alvira Erasmus, an unemployed mother of three.

These women are the strongholds of Elsenburg, says Wendy Pekeur, Ubuntu Rural's coordinator and founder. The organisation distributed food parcels to vulnerable households and established several soup kitchens and food gardens. They started the gardens recently as part of the community's long-term plan for food sustainability, or "sovereignty", as Pekeur prefers to call it.

Pekeur and the women of Ubuntu Rural distributed over 1000 food parcels throughout the Winelands area, an intervention that was made possible through small bits of outside funding and Pekeur's own pocket.

"Government didn't even bother to bring food parcels," says Erasmus. "If it wasn't for Wendy we wouldn't have survived."

Source: Spotlight


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