CITY OF SAINTS
I must admit that I had a moment of sheer terror when it dawned on me what I had just agreed to and there were moments where I held my phone, ready to call Tim Bulls to make some excuse as to why I had to back out. It was not because I didn’t want to help, it was because of where I had to go.
The reason for fear isn’t obvious when you walk the streets of Grahamstown. Don’t get me wrong, the overall atmosphere out there is ominous and oppressive and the fact that the streets are empty adds to that fear because it’s real, it’s happening but worst of all, it’s here and it has started making us sick. I think the worst part, well, at least for me, is the waiting. We all know we will be infected with Covid 19, there is no escaping it. You can’t run, you can’t hide, and you spend a fair amount of time weighing up your odds of surviving and try to make plans for a very shaky future while you wash your hands for the 6 millionth time in 3 hours. You wonder about your family and friends and try to make sense of the fact that you may never see some of them again. It is a very strange place to be in. It’s almost like swimming in the middle of the ocean knowing that there’s a shark out there that wants to kill you and those you love.
I could tell that her smile was real because I could hear it in her voice and her eyes danced a little while she showed me her home. Everything she said sounded positive even when she told me about the circumstances her friends and neighbours were living in while her two boys carried the supplies from Tim Bull’s car. I could tell from the way she rested against the door frame that she’d been busy for a while. It was only 9am.
Lindiswa Witpens has been running her soup kitchen for a while now and she says that she worries about the elderly who must travel quite a distance to get food. She and a few other community members work together to make sure that food is taken to those who can’t walk or are too sick to walk and the worrying thing is that the rows of people just get bigger and bigger every day and she only has so much food to give.
We spoke at length about the challenges that she is facing, along with all the other SAINTS who are giving everything they’ve got to make sure that no one goes to bed hungry.
Before I left, I asked one last question.
“Why are you doing this?”
I could see that she was giving this considerable thought. She took a deep breath, looked me square in the eyes and said,
“Because someone has to”
GRAHAMSTOWN'S COMMUNITY KITCHENS
From what I have seen, most of these kitchens feed between 100 and 180 people per day. The meal consists of a hearty helping of samp and beans with some form of nutritious broth with one or two vegetables on the side. The samp and beans, when combined, form a whole protein that is easily absorbed, and the broth pretty much takes care of the rest. Every now and then they hand out a quarter orange to boost the vitamin C levels.
I must admit that, given the circumstances, the way they manage to get so many people to observe the social distancing rules, was impressive. NO MASK NO FOOD is absolute law.
Everyone calmly and patiently waits their turn, each bringing their own container.
Most kitchens operate between 3 to 5 days a week and I am told that some people don’t get to eat when the kitchens are closed.
All the food and a lot of the cooking equipment come from donations.
I am told that there are plans in place to start sustainable gardens in the near future using the Permaculture method which, having seen the method work myself, will go a long way to alleviate food shortages but that’s still a long way off and they have people to feed.
Copied from this new Facebook group:
Grahamstown Covid 19 Community Kitchens
For more information on how to assist with donations of food, money or time, call or Whatsapp Tim Bull Grahamstown, Covid-19 Community Kitchens, at (27) 76 289 5122.