Siphila Sonke - "We live TOGETHER"
For many of us; Sir Lowry’s Pass and the N2, is synonymous with holidays along the Garden Route or for wine tasting to the Elgin and Hemel en Aarde Valleys. They represent childhood memories full of joy and adventure. These days, as you crest the top of the pass and arrive in Elgin, this jovial sentiment tends to fade as the growing number of informal settlements start to appear on the left-hand side of the highway.
Driving at high speed in our SUVs and focusing on the imminent coffee stop at Peregrine Farm Stall, we stay protected in our bubble for a little while longer, unwilling to accept this reality.
In 2002, Bev Morgan saw how people struggled in these communities, and together with a small team of volunteers she launched Siphila Sonke Outreach Programme, a charitable organisation with a mission to change the lives of the most vulnerable in Elgin’s informal settlements. Siphila Sonke is still run by a dedicated group of volunteers.
From modest beginnings; distributing food directly from the boot of their cars, Siphila Sonke has branched out into other community-based projects such as the Kid’s Club, the upliftment of adults in support groups, as well as general assistance . The core activity remains the allocation of food parcels to up 60 families per month, all of whom suffer from chronic illness (HIV, TB mainly) and without the ability to earn an income.
Each food parcel costs around R400 and contains E-pap, fresh vegetables and soup as well as a hamper of dry goods. The food parcels and the 5 permanent staff salaries make up the vast majority of Siphila Sonke’s running costs.
There is always such joy and excitement as gifts and food parcels are delivered.
The food parcels ready to be delivered to the beneficiaries families.
To support the kids, the Grabouw based NPO has set up a Kid’s Club where the young ones have access to computer and tablet based learning programmes. At the Kid’s Club, up to 100 children learn and play in a safe and stimulating environment. For the adults, support groups have been created for both therapeutic value and for adding a potential additional source of income by teaching Gardening, Beading and Crafting, and Sewing.
The ladies in the support group have been working hard on these beaded pens.
Siphila Sonke, which means “We Live Together”, employs 2 field workers who assist families to get official documentation such as ID cards and birth certificates. With these documents, families can apply for, and receive government financial assistance.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the chances of getting odd jobs (often in the tourism industry) have dwindled and are now almost non-existent. With the harvest season finishing soon, this coming winter is going to be an extremely difficult time in the informal settlement.
Due to its strong ties to the Elgin Valley, the Together Store has decided to donate a portion of our last month's sales worth R6,000 to Bev’s NPO.
You too can show your support for Siphila Sonke by making a donation here . You can also read their latest blog posts to learn a bit more about the fantastic work that they are doing to help the most vulnerable. Feel free to share this message with your family and friends, to help spread the word about this amazing group of people and their charitable cause.
Kids learning English together on their computers and tablets at the after school Kid's Club.
(All Photo Credits: Siphila Sonke)