South Africans need to unite now more than ever before so we can get through this crisis.
This is the belief of West Beach resident Buff van Westenbrugge who used his time on Freedom Day, Monday April 27, to raise funds to support the needy during the lockdown.
Westenbrugge, an open water swimmer, clocked up 36km in 12 hours in his swimming pool to help The Clothing Bank, which supports unemployed South Africans, on its hunger relief drive.
He says he decided to help the NGO because of his friendship with its CEO Tracey Chambers and the work they do in aid of the less fortunate.
Freedom Day was a fitting day for him to undertake the challenge to spread awareness as it is one of the most significant days in the South African calendar.
The first democratic election was held on April 27 1994.
It is a day that pays homage to the country’s liberation from apartheid.
Westenbrugge says with the Covid-19 pandemic we are yet again reminded of how the country needs to work together towards one goal; to curb the spread of the virus.
While doing so, not forgetting that there are those who are struggling for survival as they find themselves without work and the ability to put food on the table.
“I am an open water swimming enthusiast and around this time of the year I participate in Robben Island Freedom Day swim.”
The annual swim is from Robben Island to Big Bay.
“I planned to do the same distance with the difference this time being that it was in my swimming pool and it was a platform to use to call for people to lend a helping hand to those struggling to make ends meet during this difficult period.”
Westenbrigge was joined in his #HungerReliefSwim by a cyclist friend, Gavin Brophy, who also took part in #HungerReliefRide by cycling 360km in 12 hours.
“I am very happy that people actually headed our call to make a donation and we managed to raise R170 000 which will go towards food parcels.”
Westenbrugge and Chambers said The Clothing Bank wishes to raise over R1 million by next week which should feed about 4 000 families.
“The real work begins now because even if we help buy these food parcels now, what happens now, what happens next week? It was not a daily challenge but something we should keep doing on a daily basis to reach our goal,” said Westenbrugge.
Chambers said they work with lots of NGOs and used that network to assist in identifying more people in need of their support. She said during this period they not only look after the informal traders they work with on a normal basis but all the needy families they can possibly get to.
“When Buff and Gavin told us about the plan to get involved and how they wanted to raise awareness we were worried that it might not be possible. But we were excited with their involvement and we used the situation as best as we could. We used a lot of social media to spread the call for donations and were doing live crossings as they were doing their part and people from all over the country were chipping in with donations throughout the day,” she said.
“This is now the time to be morally coming together and making sure that all those who are able to assist do their bit to support the less fortunate,” he said.
“I’m not alone in wanting to do whatever I can to lessen the plight of our vulnerable citizens, most especially our nation’s beautiful children.
“All around South Africa and the world, ordinary citizens are coming together, united in finding ways to alleviate as much suffering and hunger as humanly possible.
“Now more than ever, it is our individual and collective responsibility to live and practise the spirit of ubuntu for which our country and its people are universally known. We are, and will be stronger together,” added Westenbrugge.