People are hungry in Henley on Klip!

Individuals and organisations rally to help those locked down without money or food.

It started yesterday, April 6, when Mirriam put a cry for help on the Henley on Klip Facebook page. She is a single mother with two small children. She lives in a room on Shiplake Street. No money, no food.

Henley Community Policing Forum patrollers, with permits to move around, went to investigate. They came back shocked and white-faced. Mirriam hadn’t eaten for three days. A child had only slivers of apple.

But it wasn’t just Mirriam.

Many of the houses have backyard shacks or rent their rooms. Most rooms have two, three or more people. In some houses there are as many as 24 people, men, women, children and babies. In one room there were five men who hadn’t eaten for days. They are pieceworkers, gardeners, locked down and laid off. Normally they share what they earn. Nobody is working.

Kerry Palmer of the Lions was contacted. They are in strict lockdown, but she made three emergency packs available. Mirriam and her children could eat. Later other residents dropped off further supplies.

The call went out and Henleyites came to the party. Charntel Wagenaar from the HCPF Victim Empowerment and Change Initiative volunteered to lead the project and collect money and food.

With my media permit, I returned with a patroller to investigate further. In the Avenue the people said they were all right for now. They were monthly workers and managing their supplies carefully. It was very quiet there, they said. They could manage if the lockdown lifted and there was money end April.

In Shiplake it was another story. We went from house to house making notes. People came out to greet us – and kept coming, 12, 15, 20 or more. They were cautious, courteous. There was no money, they said, very little food. Anything would help. A bag of mielie meal, something for the children. Nobody was working and there were 10 days to go.

Some faces lit up and you could see the calculation. Others were quiet, keeping their dignity. Yes, they were struggling. Everyone was struggling. They were hungry. Anything would help.

We could make no promises.

Did they know their neighbours? Were there community leaders, pastors? They shook their heads.

“Try Solly,” we were told. “He knows everyone.” We traced Solly to a zozo hut. He was expansive and very helpful. Yes, he knew everyone. He made a phone call and set up a meeting.

Meanwhile, responses were coming in. Councillor Lynda Parsonson said lists of the vulnerable were being compiled at ward level and she could add Mirriam. And her neighbours? We had identified around 150 people who will struggle and starve in the next 10 days in Shiplake alone. Government lists require South African ID. These are people in need. We’re not asking for identification.

Her advice? Henley should look after Henley directly. There was no guarantee that donations given to Midvaal LM would return to Henley on Klip. Resources were needed in other areas and in the homeless shelters. She offered R5000 the Rotarians had lodged with her to be used in need.

Fiona Brokensha, president of Rotary, called to authorise that the donation be turned over to the HCPF for Covid food relief.

Other donations were pledged by organisations, churches and individuals. Henley Helpers – volunteers during lockdown – came on board.

It has been agreed that the initiative will be led by Charntel and the HCPF in association with the other groups. Food is being collected. If you wish to help, call Charntel (074 414 8025), leave donations at your gate and they will be collected. Some HCPF patrollers and the Henley Helpers have permits to move around.

There is a trolley clearly marked outside the OK Mini Mart in Ewelme Street. If you can, put some spare groceries in it when you shop.

If you wish to donate money:

Please use COVID and cell number as reference:
Henley on Klip CPF
First National Bank
Cheque Account Number: 625 3829 3664
Branch Number: 250 137

Many thanks to all who have offered assistance. This will be an ongoing problem.

– Jennifer de Klerk