“What started out as me making sandwiches and providing fruit to 190 people at a shelter turned into providing 14 000 meals and 100 food parcels during our busiest week to numerous locations across Cape Town.”
What started out as one student’s desire to assist people in need during the national lockdown period has turned into a food program reaching 10 different areas around the city of Cape Town.
University of Cape Town economics honour student, Claire Lynam, 23, has always been involved in charity work but when South Africans were faced with the financial implications of the national coronavirus lockdown, she knew she wanted to do more to help those in need.
“I couldn’t help feeling that I really needed to do something to help those that are most affected by lockdown. It got me thinking of ways to do this,” said Lynam. It is through this feeling that she created the “Support a Saffa” initiative that provides food and sanitation goods to various townships, informal settlements, and shelters around Cape Town.
After sending what Lynam described as “fairly casual” WhatsApp messages to her friends and family on her “Support a Saffa” initiative, Lynam told Wits Vuvuzela she was overwhelmed by the response she received.
“The word started to spread about Support a Saffa and suddenly I was inundated with messages from people I knew as well as strangers who wanted to help support my initiative of donating food and sanitation parcels. What started out as me making sandwiches and providing fruit to 190 people at a shelter turned into providing 14 000 meals and 100 food parcels during our busiest week to numerous locations across Cape Town.”
With Support a Saffa growing by the day, Lynam needed the assistance of her mother, father and younger sister, who is also at UCT, to help her manage the admin and donations of the community outreach program. It is with this help from her family that Lynam has been able to keep up with her studies while still organising and distributing food across the city. She jokingly notes how her “days have been very long”.
This is not the first feeding scheme of its kind to come about in response to South Africans food crisis. Larger organisations such as the Solidarity Fund and Gift of the Givers have also contributed to helping those who have been hardest hit by the lockdown. However, the smaller size of Support a Saffa is what Lynam said most appeals to her donors, “We are not a large organisation so people who donate money to us know that every single cent is actually going towards feeding someone in need,” as opposed to admin costs of a larger operation.
“Most of our donations have come from students wanting to do their part to help the community. These haven’t been large lump sums of money but rather lots of smaller donations,” Lynam said.
One of the places that Support a Saffa assists is the Kasi RC Shack Art School and Theatre is an art mentorship program in Khayelitsha which has had to close its art program due to covid-19. Instead the mentorship program has turned itself into a soup kitchen to provide over 300 people, mostly children, with a meal three days a week. Husband and wife co-directors of Kasi RC, Mandisi and Liso Sindo, both 30, describe Lynam’s project as a “pillar” for its donation to the soup kitchen running.
“We are in luck to have Claire Lynam and her family who come every Wednesday to be with the kids and to see where the food they are donating is actually going,” said the Sindos.
With regards to the future for Support a Saffa, Lynam said how many charities such as her own are currently going through “donor fatigue” where their regular donors are needing to focus more on their own financial needs as the lockdown continues indefinitely. However, Lynam noted that this will not stop her donations and that she hopes that she can continue to grow Support a Saffa’s reach.
“Support a Saffa is about embodying the essence of what it means to be South African. It is not about race, religion, or nationality, but rather about community. Community is the new currency,” concluded Lynam.
You can find more information on how to contribute to Support a Saffa and Kasi RC on Lynam’s Support a Saffa Instagram page.
FEATURED IMAGE: What started out as a UCT student making sandwiches for a shelter, has turned into a feeding scheme for 10 locations across Cape Town. Photo: Emma O’Connor
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