THE altruism and enthusiasm of ordinary people to help the victims of flood damage in Ndlambe over the past two weeks has been inspiring.
Stories have been coming in from across Ndlambe about hundreds of blankets being collected and distributed and thousands of meals provided to especially the residents of informal settlements whose shacks were destroyed in the deluge.
Innovative fundraisers have been held, like Craig Dickie’s “Come hell or high water” birthday party which requested food for flood victims in lieu of presents. Guests responded generously.
A street party in aid of flood victims was held at the Nemato taxi rank last Saturday and organisers collected an impressive R2 222. There may be some symbolism in that amount and perhaps someone can offer an interpretation.
The most impressive effort has been by the newly formed Port Alfred Networked Disaster Relief (PANDR) organisation, just over a week old, made up a number of organisations and businesses that decided to pool their resources.
Each of them brought something different to the table, as Baptist Church pastor Jason Currie explained, adding, “We do what we can with what we have.”
The municipality set up a collection depot for food, clothing and blankets at the Port Alfred fire station, which was well-supported, but concerns have been expressed how the distribution of aid has been managed.
Several rumours have been circulating around town about donated food being abused, which soured people from dropping off donations at the fire station.
It is in this context that PANDR was formed independently to ensure those in need received the aid.
PANDR focused first on the New Rest informal settlement in Nemato. The municipality had given emergency shelter to about 100 people from New Rest at the Ingubo Centre, but after going door to door, PANDR found the need in New Rest even greater.
The Baptist Church became the hub for collecting, processing and distributing hundreds of blankets and items of clothing, and making up food parcels.
PANDR also sent aid to Kenton and Alexandria and took up collections in Bushman’s River.
With this stage of flood relief winding up, PANDR’s more ambitious long-term goals are to help restore and rebuild damaged homes, and find furniture for those whose household possessions were destroyed by the flood.
We salute all the churches, organisations, businesses and individuals, many unheralded, who have risen to the occasion, dug deep into their own pockets and given their time to help others during and after this disaster.
– Jon Houzet