Teamwork during times of crisis (Newsletter as of April 13, 2020)

Dear Friends of Lebenslinien e.V.

we hope you are coping well with the current restrictions imposed on us by the Covid 19 pandemic. After three weeks in a state of emergency we are slowly longing for a return to a normal life. Even though it is now becoming apparent that this will not happen any time soon, we can expect the first easing of restrictions and somehow we will manage to hold out until the longed-for corona vaccine is available. In the meantime, we can only trust that our health care system will be able to provide sufficient medical support for those particularly affected. For those of us who are economically in need, the state fortunately tries to help.

"Lockdown" - complete curfew throughout South Africa
The situation in South Africa is completely different. There, unlike here, there has been a total curfew since 27 March. After the first corona infections on the Cape, the government was forced to completely shut down public life, especially to prevent the virus from spreading in the townships. The only things allowed are going shopping, to the bank, to the pharmacy or to the doctor. There is a complete ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco and only people whose work is considered an essential service to society are allowed to go to work. This includes healthcare workers, security services and the supply of food.

Difficult implementation in the townships of the poorest
In theory, these are certainly suitable measures to slow down the pandemic. In practice, however, their implementation is difficult for a number of reasons. If you look at the townships, you quickly see that the social distance demanded is a privilege of the wealthy. Contrary to what many coloured people believe, Covid-19 is probably not a disease of the white population, but rather one of the poor. Hardly anybody wants to say that he is afraid and yet most people probably suspect that the consequences will be devastating. How can one distance oneself when several hundred thousand people live in a hut of ten square metres in a threesome or four-man household. How can one distance oneself when thousands of people have to go past to the water point where everyone meets because there is no running water in their hut? How to distance oneself and observe hygiene regulations when hundreds of people share public toilets and no one feels responsible for cleaning them? How can you survive when you are no longer allowed to work as a day labourer and do not know what to buy food from, let alone disinfectants or even respirators?

Minimal intensive care
Even though less than 6% of South Africans are over 65 years old, it is hard to imagine what will happen if the virus continues to hit peak global rates of tuberculosis and HIV. For every 60 million inhabitants in South Africa there are allegedly only about 1,000 intensive care beds. These are mainly available to population groups with enough money and health insurance.

Muffin bakery temporarily closed
As far as we know, we have less to worry about at the moment about our lifeline family here in Germany. Everyone seems to be well taken care of. We are even more concerned about our friends, co-workers, project partners and of course the children in South Africa. With the closure of the schools and the complete ban on going out, our hands were also tied. Not only are all ambitious building plans on ice and no football is played anymore, we couldn't even bake muffins. The school in which we bake was closed for an unforeseeable time and the bakers at home were trapped.
But then when the hunger of many children became bigger and bigger and the government started to send food parcels to the townships, we immediately tried to get the bakery going again with the help of our local friends.

This is how teamwork works
Martin Leukes, the director of the primary school - and as a diabetic himself part of the risk group - did not hesitate for a second and agreed to open the building for us at any time. Francois Ekstein, the managing director of Zeelandia, the company that produces our muffin mix and supplies us with all the ingredients, assured continued supply even during the lockdown and lowered the price by around a third for the period of the crisis. Before we approached our bakers, who we already suspected would prefer to start today rather than tomorrow, we had to arrange the distribution. We benefited from the fact that the government had recognized the need of the children and had asked all registered kindergartens to have lunch ready from April 8th. The facilities will remain closed, but the children can pick up their lunch. This was now our chance to reach the children again. Now we still had to bring the muffins to the facilities. And also this conversation with our friend and winegrower Rikus Neethling did not last two minutes. If we got the permission for his driver, he would of course take over the delivery free of charge. So once this was also arranged, someone on site had to coordinate all the parties involved and obtain the necessary permits for everyone.

Here some recent pictures of the muffin distribution activities

We thank our heroes on site
We don't know which of you has an angel and what his name is, but ours is called Fiona. Despite her age of over 70 years, Fiona immediately started to organize letters of recommendation and confirmation from various people involved and went to the local police to get the special exit permits for our small relief team. Of all people, she, who was supposed to stay at home, could not be stopped and was already standing in the bakery at 6:00 am on Maundy Thursday to support our two bakers Vivian and Lee-Ann. They started with existing stocks until Zeelandia brought two tons of fresh muffin mix at 10:00 am. By 2:00 pm the first 3,000 muffins were baked and Elton our driver set off to deliver the eagerly awaited goods.

Heroes on site

Fiona, Vivien, Lee-Ann and Elton in the bakery and during delivery

The beginning was made
Regular operation will then begin next week with a planned weekly production of initially 5,000 muffins. Depending on local experience and donations, this number can be increased even further. Vivian and Lee-Ann have assured that they will continue their commitment.

Many, many thanks to all who support us on site! You are our heroes!

The recipients
At the moment we are supplying kindergartens in Macassar, in Strand, Sir Lowry's Pass and in Grabouw, as well as the football team in Lwandle, i.e. mainly the children we usually supply. At the moment, however, it is not possible to guarantee this for sure, and we deliberately leave it up to our respective project partners to whom they are currently distributing. Parents and other adults are also hungry. We are convinced that our project partners will solve this for the best of the community. Since we are currently less able to control the recipients and will supply a so-called "night shelter" for the homeless from next week on, we have decided to bake conventional muffins for the time being. With this we also help other affected people, hopefully provide a little moment of joy and alleviate hunger. As the production costs for the simple muffin are much cheaper, we can reach more people than usual.

The recipients


We would like to share a letter from Selwyn and Maria with you. Together with the two who run the Eagles Nest kindergarden in Grabouw, we are also planning to build a new kindergarden in the fall. In order for the two to be able to prepare a warm meal for the children on weekends in addition to the weekdays for which the government is paying, we also transferred 600,00 € for food last week.

Dear Steffi, Thomas and Lebenslinien Friends

They say a picture say a thousand words. I have no doubt in my mind that these pictures are saying more than what we could ever say. We will never be able to express our gratitude in words, but to say thank you.
We are able to give a meals and muffins because of kindhearted people like all of you. I can assure you that this is much appreciated. People are in a panic here in South Africa because of the extended lockdown. Most of our parents are dependant on that childcare grant of R400 which they received 1 April. Most of our parents also live from day to day, meaning they go out for work a day and get paid at the end of the day, and that put food on the table. Now because of the lockdown they do not have that option anymore. Our parents could not believe that we are providing a meal EVERY DAY!! (especially on weekends as well). We do get the subsidy from government, but since the children are not eating at school, our expenses are a bit more. We have to buy containers for take away and we have to give bigger portions so they can at least eat twice or share at home with a brother or sister.
Your contribution is a significant help and we will be forever grateful. Please give our gratitude to each and every person who contribute to our mission in feeding a hungry tummy.

Love Selwyn and Maria

Despite the very tense situation, which is also very difficult for us, it is a great joy to be part of a project that is useful and lives solidarity across continents. We hope you feel the same.

That's it for today. For one or the other maybe a bit lengthy as always, but we wanted to let you know what happens with your donations in this worldwide crisis. You enable us and the many helpers on site to stand up to the virus a little bit. Thanks for that!

We wish you and your loved ones all the best and the persistance it takes to get through this extraordinary times.

In grateful solidarity
Thomas & Steffi Curry with the entire Lebenslinien e.V. team