The Westlake United Churches Trust is one the causes I support. Veloshni Baker is the Acting General Manager of the trust and a guest blogger on this site. Look out for an update from her soon. Paul du Preez.
Level 4 Lockdown in Westlake is pretty much the same as level 5 except that the term “Ons maak ‘n plan” (“We’ll make a plan”) has taken a new turn. Desperate tiksters have been tripping on sanitiser (we now hand out bars of soap). And illicit stills are producing “potato” beer and ”pineapple wine” while tobacco entrepreneurs are making a killing on selling loose cigarettes at R10 each. The locals are economizing by puffing happily on cigarettes rolled from tea bags! Oh well…I suppose it is recycling…
At WUCT, the Westlake United Churches Trust, we have been beset by challenges over the past few weeks. One evening, I landed up in Melomed Hospital, quite dramatically. On another day, our donated Toyota Avanza was ferrying the carers to their clients when a driver (who insisted they were not under the influence of any substance, but were only checking the time) rear ended them at high speed, forcing them into a BMW 3 series! Fortunately, no-one was injured. But our vehicle is a write off, and that has hampered our services somewhat. Troubles comes in threes, they say: one of our staff was in contact with a COVID positive client and contracted the illness. We all had to self-isolate. Screening and testing was carried out, and our buildings decontaminated by men dressed in “Star Wars” hazmat suits who hosed down the surfaces with high-pressure machines.
Emerging from that dire period, we are now shouting our praises to God as all our other staff tested negative – proof that social distancing, working in separate PODS (set spaces for each group) wearing masks, and regular hand-washing does work. We now have stepped up our safety protocol, and have our security staff screening each person that enters our gate (with a scanning thermometer and checklist of questions). With COVID 19 spreading, people will fall sick, especially those that work in the frontline. The important thing is to combat the attack swiftly and to have a strategic plan in place. “Tears may last for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). This is a truth that keeps us all praying and thanking God for rescuing us.
After April 25th, as we anticipated, we were confronted with many more people struggling economically. While we started off by feeding the community who normally receive therapy and education at our centre, we were so encouraged by the generous, overflowing support received from donors, partners and friends that we were able to distribute food, masks and cleansers to many more vulnerable people.
To date we have delivered 865 food parcels (with soap/sanitiser) and 806 masks to very appreciative and needy people. In total we have provided 51,380 meals (each food parcel lasts either 7 or 14 days). By the end of May we will hand out a further 359 parcels giving a total of 1224. A BIG THANK YOU to each one of you that gave off your best to assist us to help so many!
This pandemic sort of reminds me of the epic 90s movie, Titanic when the ship hits the iceberg. Remember that movie? The hit song “My heart will go on” by Celine Dion that we all sang tearfully. Oh – the scene when Leonardo DiCaprio lets go of the driftwood to save Kate Winslet. So sad! And how about the musicians, playing with gusto as the ship slowly sinks. Such bravado! And what about the unsinkable Molly Brown who commandeers lifeboat no. 6 back to the wreck to save many lives.
Well…in my eyes, you are ALL tenacious Molly Browns! In times of disaster we can choose to ignore and walk on by, or we can walk the difficult walk. We can go back and help the drowning and desperate. YOU all have chosen to help those who are strangers to you, with gifts of money, groceries, time, prayer, kindness and warm emotional support. We will never forget you! THANK YOU from all in Westlake and the WUCT Team! You inspire us to keep going.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.HEBREWS 12:1
June is around the corner and, while fatigued, we have to continue helping the vulnerable. We CANNOT stop – so many depend on us. Please spread the word to your friends to assist us. (Yesterday two shacks burned down. That means two more families to assist.) Alone we can’t do much. But working together we can make a difference.
Veloshni Baker is the Acting General Manager of the Westlake United Churches Trust. Visit http://www.wuct.org.za for more information.
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