We were supposed to see our kiddos today but Covid-19 has arrived in South Africa. Travel is banned, schools are closing and companies have instructed employees to work from home. A decision that was made in the best interest of the South African people, and delivered to us calmly by the president Sunday night, resulted in a run on the stores Monday morning. The simple process of buying groceries became a battle.
It’s a hot button topic in any country right now. School closures mean many children go hungry. Millions of children around the globe are reliant on school feeding schemes as a main source of their daily nutrition. For our kiddos, they not only receive lunch but breakfast too. Without these two guaranteed meals five days a week our monthly grocery package is not enough to sustain them.
Assembling our kiddos food each month is a two day process. Day one is all the canned and packaged goods. For twelve families it can easily fill two trolleys. It comes to my garage where I sort it by family size and place it in a bag with their name on it. Sometimes, one of the many women who are the backbone of Ngangifisa will volunteer for pap duty. If not, day two is pap. Twelve 10kg bags of pap have caused many a trolley to be broken over the years.
In normal circumstances these shopping trips are no issue. Sure, I get questions from time to time. Do I own a shop? Am I throwing a party? When I share where the food is going I usually get a hug and extra help loading it in the car. Not this week.
Twelve jars of peanut butter got a few looks. An additional twelve cereals, bags of sugar and boxes of tea received under-the-breath comments. When I counted out thirty-six cans of baked beans I was stopped by an employee and told I would not be allowed to hoard food. The limits were non-negotiable. Piecing together the groceries in multiple stores with vastly different stock levels would take days we didn’t have.
Instead of writing their names on a bag filled with groceries, this time I wrote their names on a gift card. Each gift card is equivalent to two months worth of groceries. The hope is that we can offset the lack of food they will get as a result of school being closed starting today.
With no mandated quarantines or “shelter in place” suggestions, our focus now shifts to daily trips to stock up on food. It affects our budget, but our priority is ensuring all 50 kids have full bellies. We won’t allow them to feel the affects of missing breakfast and lunch at school.
Ngangifisa is not alone. School closures, missed time from work and other issues related to Covid-19 will leave families hungry and in need of help around the world. Please, help where you can. To support one of our twelve families, donate now.