Locked down, then what?
On 23 March 2020 the Board of Betereinders reached immediate consensus that the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown would entail dire effects for society’s most vulnerable individuals. By 25 March the Board approved R75 000 to kickstart our Covid response. This was money we didn’t have in our budget since the lockdown was unexpected. As Betereinders one of our values is to (doen goed) we try to ‘not talk but walk’ and so the response started in March.
We wanted to leverage our modest contribution and besides the normal chatter on social media, we made a pamphlet which was circulated to friends and not-yet-friends. See pamphlet on the Betereinders website. The public started responding immediately with numerous small tokens of support trickling in.
This momentum of care led to the organic next step, people saying, ‘but can we help with food?’ And so, the food drive was born. Again a new poster to share and the public (in church, out of church, Afrikaans, English, in our borders, even from outside our country, individuals started showing support. See the communique we used here.
Midway through the campaign we made a short motivational video.
Because our engagement with the poor started before the Covid-19 crisis, we could lean on important best practice. The following laid the foundation for a successful campaign:
–Listen: when you ask someone in need what they need and they tell you, listen. #data
–Spread the love, not the virus: We minimised driving around.
–Relational giving: because we know the actual people in need, we could give directly.
–Cash is king: the efficient way to help is mostly cash, people know what they need, and the money doesn’t need to be driven around with permits.
–Get your fingers dirty: We got our hands dirty too, obtaining the needed permits to travel, but we kept to the strategy of reaching further by not driving around.
–Trust: when you know someone, you are friends, you give a gift and you give trust.
–No poverty porn, no strings: feedback and ‘reporting’ was unsolicited and voluntarily, that way you get the real picture. People get food or data, whilst keeping their dignity.
–Remain discretionary and flexible: humans don’t operate in boxes, as givers we shouldn’t either. The spirit of the campaign kept that humanity alive by staying flexible and open.
–Free money: donors are always encouraged to give unrestricted funds, that can be used where needed most in a specific situation, especially in a crisis.
–We simplified restricted funds: where donors could simply state DATA, FOOD or OTHER on the bank. Then we were meticulous in ensuring that gift gets used for that purpose, but not micromanaging the how. This allowed speed and efficiency.
–By going to townships to braai and play (or watch) football before the crisis, we didn’t waste our time, we made connections, connections that can now benefit efficiently during lockdown. So the staan saam, werk saam model is bearing fruit during lockdown.
Compared to the national challenges, Betereinders recognices that our individual contributions are less than minute, almost not even validating a report! We need to keep pushing, getting on with what is needed. Betereinders however, has never been a charity that focus on hand-outs. Betereinders, in the first place is a space where previously advantaged people can grow and learn to live with integrity. That is why our work is built on werk saam – staan saam (reconciliation and restitution). We give, not because we are cute, but because it is our duty. We find our humanity and being African in our unity and solidarity with the most forgotten, disadvantaged citizens of our country. Besides each person just doing what they can, we also try to spread the word, getting more people off the couch, out of fear, through negativity; onto the journey of building a better and healthy country. On a small scale, Betereinders is an organisation, but Betereinders is also a movement, a way of thinking and being. Building a country where all our kids will feel welcome.
We immerse ourselves into this messiness, not because we are saviours of others, but because we are firstly fixing ourselves. You don’t fix yourself by nice chats and workshops, although we do that too. In a crisis, the key is goodwill and momentum. We aim to not do things that can spoil that energy. We make a small contribution, but we do it through relationships and in the context of crisis, yes but, also a beyond-Covid calling to realise social justice.
The background of this section is filled with hundreds of names who benefited to date with data. 536 people received data enabling them to talk to spouses, check in with kids, keep employment, receive food, apply for help, and generally just not being isolated and stressed.
Beneficiaries redistribute the litlle food they get, so our numbers are now over two thousand. Our R75 000 grew into almost R200 000 which goes directly to people in dire need.
We receive fantastic stories of feedback. A few youths explained how their data and being online led to getting additional funds that could buy food. Some explained how they used R500 for food to reach out to neighbours. Many reported that they helped non-South Africans who we suffering the most. What we are seeing is ubuntu paid forward.
This small story of ‘being one’ stands in stark contrast to fighting over permits, undignified queues of dispair, issues of race, frustration at politicians, arguments about the virus and future catastrophy. Let’s embrace our finite contribution and get on with it. The purpose of this update is to invite you to join and contribute.
Betereinders kla nie.
Betereinders doen goed.
Betereinders werk saam met almal.
Maak jou vingers vuil.
50K Donation Given