The lockdown in South Africa has shown us many things about our country and its citizens. Some of them are not particularly good, as will always be the case in a pandemic type situation. On the whole, though, it is heartening to note that the vast majority of people have taken from their own (often meagre) monies, or given of their time, to someone in more need than themselves. 

Care for the elderly, care for single parents, care for neighbours… the lockdown has made people so much more aware of each other, and their needs. And this can only be a good thing. 

It’s at times like this that a real community stands up and stands out.

During a time of self-isolation, as is the case with lockdown, it’s generally the most vulnerable that suffer the most. The elderly, the infirm and people who are disabled, or have special needs, are particularly vulnerable. 

Stepping out of your comfort zone makes one so aware of the lack of others, and how very blessed we are. From the young to the more mature in our community, this is a time when ‘me’ becomes ‘we’. Together we are stronger.

Community strength. 

Meet Robyn Bergman, an estate agent. She is a busy mom who has had the almost full-time responsibility of home-schooling during the lockdown, and also finds the time to head up the care committee in her local resident association, the RRVA (Randpark Ridge Village Association). Not every resident in the RRVA area is an RRVA member, but, as they do not want anyone in the community who might be in need, to fall through the cracks in any way, help is available for all.

Robyn Bergman

They have various strategic chalkboards placed alongside the road in the area, with motivational and encouraging messages. These have been particularly helpful during lockdown when people have not been their strongest emotionally or, in many cases, physically and/or mentally. 

Community presence. 

One evening Robyn got the call to help a family whose home had burnt down. She arranged counselling for the family, and a call for food and clothing for the children went out on Facebook and on local Whatsapp groups, as they had lost everything in the fire. The help was forthcoming and swift. 

In another incident, where a couple lost their home, clothing had been arranged, a small petrol generator provided, as well as blankets and a mattress for their (big) dogs, amongst other needs met. All within 24 hours. 

Community provision. 

Kasturi Paruth is also on the Care Committee. Mum of 8-year-old triplets, she holds a senior position in a large corporate company, plus has her own company. With all these responsibilities she still finds the time to volunteer on the Care Committee. 

Kasturi Paruth

She joined the RRVA as a member in January 2019. “This was immediately after my family were victims of an armed robbery at our home. The RRVA Chairman and Security Director reached out to us personally, and then a meal was delivered by the Director of the Care Committee. We were so touched by the comfort received from people we did not know and did not know us.” she says, “I then joined the Care Committee to give back the care and comfort which my family and I received.’’

Community role models.

Meeting people who are community-minded and -spirited is inspiring and can stimulate a desire within us to help others. It is often these good works or deeds that encourages others to follow suit.

“Some of the assistance I have provided thus far is for a couple that were involved in an armed robbery.”  Kasturi says. “I visited them and provided a home-cooked meal. I am still in contact with the couple. 

I also assisted a family last week that had a sudden death. The husband aged 47 passed away leaving behind his wife and 4 children aged 6 to 13. Due to lockdown I was not able to visit the family in person, but I am in contact with the wife on a daily basis and have provided a meal for her family. 

On a personal note, my husband, kids and I have been providing old clothing, toys, books and meals to a different orphanage 3 times during the year for many years with the aim of teaching our kids the gift of giving.”

Community outreach. 

It is often during times of struggle that help comes from people and places least expected. Let’s all support local businesses. Find out if your elderly neighbours are okay. See this unexpected prolonged time with your family as a blessing, not a stress. 

Use this precious time to make a difference if you can.

Be community hearted. 

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