Responding to a virus that we know nothing about

Vrygrond is one of the oldest settlements in the Western Cape, where self-reliant families pursued a simple way of life for many decades. It has been shaped by a history of constant change in response to the political pressures imposed by Apartheid legislation and engineering on the one hand, and stories of increasing intergenerational rural-urban migration, unemployment, homelessness, and intra-African migration on the other.

With Muizenberg CAN and Vrygrond United 4 Change

Pre-lockdown, we had to take our Vukuzenzele Programme online, and adjust it to respond to Covid-19 and all the behavioural changes required. As some of the participants live in Vrygrond, their peers became curious about the discussions we were having, as they said noone in their community was talking about it, and they also wanted to know what this Covid-19 was, and how it would directly impact their lives. This turned into a discussion involving a wide diversity of Vrygrond residents, and resulted in a mapping process, led by these youths, that aimed to identify needs and resources within their community, and create strategies to survive the imminent dangers ahead.

Lockdown and physical distancing look very different depending on where on the economic ladder you sit. A small, single room shared with four or 5 others, with no running water and no cash or food reserves to see you through, or internet to connect with the outside world, can in itself be fatal. For the majority in Vrygrond, survival is a day to day affair, and no work means no pay. This leaves this community incredibly vulnerable to hunger within days of lockdown. Lockdown continuing for months, is a problem beyond comprehending when you don’t know where tomorrow’s meal will come from.

The focus of our engagement lies on food security and supporting the youth in Vrygrond to develop response strategies to the crisis we are in. In the course of 4 weeks, the group “Vrygrond United 4 Change” was formed, existing Community Kitchens were mapped, 10 new community kitchens were set up in an attempt to ensure everyone had access to at least one meal a day, relatively close to home, a fundraising campaign was established, and food distribution systems set up. Resources were identified in the form of sewing machines, seamstresses, printers, networks of support, social workers, leaders, garden spaces, business mentors, local traders and businesses, women willing to cook, stoves, pots and available spaces. A group of young women started a “Dignity Drive”, distributing sanitary pads and toiletries to the women in the community. Growing bags have been installed next to community kitchens.

The response to Covid-19 is bringing to light extraordinary individuals with the power to find solutions – together. They have shown amazing leadership skills that are urgently needed in this country.

We are determined to ensure that our responses are designed to build resilient systems that can carry us through not just a few months of uncertainty, but the next few years and into the future.

Muizenberg Community Action Network is a group of more than 150 volunteers from Muizenberg coming together to take care of each other as a collective in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We join over 140 community action networks (CANs) as part of the greater Cape Town Together initiative.

  • Community response to Covid-19 in Muizenberg
  • Develops new systems and logistics
  • Collaborating closely with Vrygrond

Vrygrond United 4 Change is a group of around 30 volunteers from Vrygrond / Capricorn and Overcome Heights seeking to create resilient strategies to get their communities through what the future may bring.

  • Community response to Covid-19 in Vrygrond
  • Develops new systems and logistics
  • Collaborating closely with Muizenberg CAN

AMAVA OLUNTU is a Muizenberg based NPC that works to build community through supporting youths to create and implement their own solutions to prevailing challenges they are facing.

  • Fundraising and Administration of Covid-19 response in Muizenberg and Vrygrond
  • Focus on leadership support and mentoring of mobilizers in Vrygrond