Giving Back

As the economy worsens, it affects the poorest the hardest. It breaks my heart to hear the stories about the struggles and I know, just know, it could be you, it could be me – in a heartbeat something can happen and it could all be taken away. Be that the roof over our heads, family moving away, a fatal accident or the support system we have.

I know there are worse off people, and that scares me even more. I know there exists a massive ocean of hungry people, needy people, people who don’t have the most basic of basics, and I know how easy it is for us to feel overwhelmed and helpless about fixing it.

And so we sit and ponder politics and politicians and the haves and the have nots, and in the  meantime there are those people who have at the most R600 a month for bathroom, electrical, cleaning, medical, transport and food. I can’t even manage on R600 a week never mind a month – can you?

A story was shared with me recently about a delightful old man at one of the homes who asked to be taken to pawn his microwave so he could get to the hospital to get the medication he needed and he needed to pay extra because the generics don’t help and he has to get the real thing. And the cycle begins because at next pension day he will get his microwave back (plus interest of course) but he'll need to do it all over again. Anyway, off he went to get his medication and many hours later he came back, but the medicine was gone. Did he leave it on the bus, was it stolen? He doesn’t know, he is exhausted and he has no medicine and no microwave to cook with.

Then there was the tragic story of the man who died alone, with infected sores that hadn’t been attended to because when he became bedridden there was no-one to help him.

There’s a man with painful, debilitating arthritis and he has to hand-wash clothing.  Have you ever thought about how these people wash & dry their bedding? I know my 86 year old mother cannot hang her clothing, let alone her bedding.

My personal worst, and I suppose it’s because I have worked in and around the food business for many years, and because I love food and flavours and smells, is the hunger. In the time that I have been involved in the Just Forty project, I have come to realise they eat little, always ferret, knowing tomorrow is another day and they will need the food later. We host a birthday party once a month and guests get, for example, a yogurt, muffin, fruit stick (most will keep the fruit stick) and a plate of food; some will pick but most will take this back to their room, same with the cake. Maybe they will eat a mouthful or two. They stretch that food over the next two days.

It is the saddest of all truths for me because I can’t imagine my mother without food, or for that matter, without warmth, without electricity, without care, without help, without medication.

Many years ago, I had to make some big changes in my life and the advice I was given was to look at it like you would a dusty room. Start sweeping and you will choke, you will get dust in your eyes, you will cough, you will cry but slowly and surely, if you continue, you will make a difference to that dusty dirty room.

Please choose to make a difference. As big as the problem is, today that can change.

Individually, as a group at work, with family and friends working together, any way that you are able, you can make a difference.