Corporate Social Responsibility Feature

Ubomi Obutsha Centre returns to its original purpose


GOING THE DISTANCE: The Ubomi Obutsha Centre has been aiding the community for almost 22 years
GOING THE DISTANCE: The Ubomi Obutsha Centre has been aiding the community for almost 22 years

As the Covid-19 lockdown drags on, life simply gets more and more difficult for the poor who, at the best of times, have little by way of fallback resources to depend on.

Every week, Ubomi sees the number of families turning to it for some form of relief grow.

“It has been encouraging for us to see the difference in attitude among those families who have chosen to work with us over the years compared to those who chose not to,” a spokesperson for Ubomi said.

“They are more resilient, not ‘demanding’, less frantic about their needs, willing to help when needed and very grateful to those — our donors — who are helping them survive the lockdown.

“We work hard to be more than just a ‘handout charity’.”

Even at the Ubomi Obutsha Centre, nothing is “for free”. Cash doesn’t play a role but the centre does accept commitment, progress and participation as currency from its beneficiaries.

“We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have been receiving and the comments of gratitude from our donors for our efforts; of admiration for our direct approach; and for the opportunity to confidently contribute so ‘close’ to where the need is," the spokesperson said.

During a recent distribution session the centre had a visit from the local police station.

“Because of the large crowds they attract and the aggression that often develops in groups of anxious and desperate people, food parcel distributions and soup kitchens have been a headache.

“We were nervous when they [the police] arrived but were very surprised — as they also seemed to be! — at their reaction!” the spokesperson said.

“We were commended on how well everything was managed, and our recipients we recommended for their social distancing and patience.

“The police left offering us assistance any time we need it and were very happy for us to continue.”

The Ubomi Obutsha Centre began almost 22 years ago by simply feeding those who were hungry.

A sense of those early days has returned, but the situation has also highlighted the progress that has been made since then.

The sense of a “new normal” is beginning to set in, but when the centre is able to resume its developmental programme again, there may not be too many “pieces to pick up” with regards to the high-risk families with which it works.

Many of their basic needs will have continued to be met and Ubomi’s work on developing family cohesion, self-sustainability and life skills development will be able to simply carry on.

But, for now, it will be sticking to the basics.

This article was supplied by Ubomi Obutsha Centre.

Here’s how you can help Ubomi

2020 needs list:

Office stationery: pens and pencils; hardcover A4 books; highlighters; dry wipe markers; Prestik; office printing paper; exam pads; plastic sleeves; printer toner

Activity equipment: Wet Wipes; Vaseline; toddler aprons; plastic kids’ spoons; 50pg flip files; toddler school bags; colouring books; wax crayons (thick and thin); pencils; desktop sharpeners; printer toner; Prestik; projector; internet connection; two computers (chrome OS); toy soccer balls; kids’ mattress covers; educational posters; foldable tables; foldable/stackable chairs; camping washing basins

School support: school bags; school shoes; school stationery; school uniforms

Buildings: kitchen revamp; “Whirlybird”  extractor; imitation turf (about 100m²); paving (about 200m²); front and back entrance murals; paint; gutters; curtain dividers; new security gates; security cameras (and monitors); carpeting, rugs and cushions; handwash basins (plus installation)

Food garden: cement slab for water tanks; drip irrigation system; skilled/experienced gardener; compost and black soil; mini greenhouse

General: small container (for storage); new vehicle (donations, collection and social service transport); 300 printed T-shirts

Volunteers: skilled/experienced gardener; tutors (for foundation phase); storeroom “management”; donations collection (2021)

For community volunteers: financial support gifts; old  but  good smartphones; encouraging messages and support.

The centre’s bank details are:

FNB cheque, account number 62129245355, Newton Park, Branch code:    261050, Swift code: FIRNZAJJ

This article was supplied by Ubomi Obutsha Centre.