South Africa – "Thank you, on behalf of the poorest of the poor!" Salesian generosity changes people's lives

29 May 2020

(ANS - Cape Town) - Even in South Africa, as in the rest of the world, COVID-19 has shocked everything. Salesian organizations have adhered to the state of emergency decreed by President Ramaphosa and have started working in different ways to help people in need. The following is an account of the activities and services they have provided in the past few weeks to help people left without support.

The areas of action have been many: through social networks, as well as over the phone, an extensive awareness-raising campaign has been carried out on the virus and ways to prevent infections. The people at the "Salesian Life Choices - SLC" program, active in Cape Town, alone telephoned about 900 people, sent messages to another 800, and reached over 50,000 users via Facebook.

The distance support activity also included psychological counseling sessions for adults and young people, professional orientation sessions for teenagers, job search advice for their parents. And the operators of the SLC program also delivered 220 vouchers for the purchase of food goods to needy families, each worth 800 Rand (about 41 Euros).

For their part, the Salesian Cooperators of the local center have worked hard to accompany the Salesian religious in feeding the poor in the Hanover Park area.

Leaders of the Salesian Youth Institute Projects (SYIP) in Lansdowne, Cape Town, thanks to the support provided by several NGOs, were able to benefit 171 beneficiaries identified in 27 different communities around the city with weekly packs of food, thanks to 16 SIYP volunteers who personally made sure that the food parcels reached the right families.

Also, the Salesian Institute in Cape Town is preparing to restart some of its programs, in accordance with the announcement by the Minister of Fundamental Education that students will return to school, with a gradual approach starting from June 1, 2020. To meet the requirements of the law and public health measures, SIYP is currently engaged in a thorough cleaning of the environments.

Finally, from Ennerdale, a suburb of Johannesburg, the Salesian coadjutor brother Clarence Watts speaks of the joy of needy families when, a few days ago, they received the new load of food supplies: “The families were contacted to inform them to come to the school with their children who attend Laura Vicuna, to collect a parcel of food. By the time we arrived at the school, the large crowd of people were standing in lines on the open land, across from Don Bosco Educational Projects. They had arrived early in the morning and were anxious to receive help. The necessary screening was done as they entered the Centre and they were divided into the classes of the children. When they arrived at the classroom and saw what they were going to receive, they were amazed. There were tears of joy in their eyes and their faces sparkled with relief.  They could not thank us enough for the food supplies. They even danced with joy.

They have sent messages to say how much they appreciate this tremendous help and that they could now feed their families for a while. Their gratitude was great. Some came with a pram and some with a wheelbarrow.  Others carried the parcels, on their heads or by hand.  The children from the Sancta Maria Pre School received something when we celebrated the feast of Mary Help of Christians.  We have been promised more help for food parcels, that will be distributed at a later stage. We thank God for the great response we received and pray for the generous donors who have given so much to touch the hearts of the most vulnerable. What a joy it is for them to now have a meal, due to the kindness of those who have made it possible. There are no words to express our gratitude, on behalf of the poorest of the poor!


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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