Monday 14 September 2020
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Save the Children South Africa (SCSA) has been working tirelessly to deliver emergency assistance to some of the most vulnerable children in our country. We have seen people in truly desperate situations, without access to basic necessities, and steadily losing hope. But we have also seen communities coming together, neighbours helping neighbours, and a true sense of Ubuntu.
This sometimes gets lost among the headlines, which understandably fixate on the damage this crisis has done to our economy and social fabric. I want you to know that there are good stories too. Something worth remarking on is that South Africa is still a giving nation. Despite all the difficulties that people are facing, many are still giving what they can to help others in worse situations, and this needs to be recognized.
SCSA has a team who speak to people from all walks of life on a daily basis. We call them our Face-to-Face team, and they go to shopping malls to raise awareness on our work and gain public support for children in need. You’ve probably walked passed them before, or stopped to talk, you may have even made a donation yourself.
These guys speak to so many different people, giving them a real insight into the best (and worst!) parts of our nature.Recently I went to speak to them to find out how South Africans are responding to requests to support vulnerable children, six months into the Covid-19 crisis. Given all the uncertainty that we are living through together – will we be more, or less, inclined to help others?
We only re-started this type of fundraising a week ago, but things are looking really positive. People are stopping to talk to our team, and they want to know about emergency response and what they can do to support us.
On the one hand this crisis has laid bare the immense inequalities in our country, and I think that many people are really seeing this for the first time. Others are experiencing renewed gratitude for what they have, and feel a moral duty to help those less fortunate. Either way, there is something really good happening here.
Our Face-to-Face team are in such high spirits. They’re happy to be back doing work that they enjoy – talking to all sorts of people, and helping children in the process. And they keep their momentum up through these regular interactions with genuinely kind people.
I don’t mean to sugar-coat the situation. Covid-19 has resulted in a crisis in funding for civil society, with many programmes closing and staff losing jobs. We are sliding backwards on many child rights issues, and everyone is justifiably worried about what the future holds. But visiting our team this week, I see green shoots. I see a bit of hope in people’s kindness and resilience. And I see a good story with a lot of potential to grow.
So please spread the word, and do speak to our team when you see them in a shopping mall (they’ll be at Greenstone in Johannesburg in mid-September).
By Steve Miller, CEO of Save the Children South Africa.
Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In South Africa and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.
Note to the Editor:
If children are affected, we’ve got something to say. Our team of experts are available for comments, interviews and information.