In South Africa, we had a five-week complete lockdown in March and April 2020, followed by various levels of movement restrictions, which really hit the economy in South Africa extremely hard. Our wine and tourism businesses are major industries in the Western Cape, which virtually disappeared due to a long alcohol ban and the severe restrictions on tourism.
Although we kept in touch with part of our school community via Whats-App and phone calls, it was very difficult to teach online - indeed, almost impossible. Many students do not have access to computers, smartphones, or the Internet at all. So, we had to make sure that certain children had their work on paper. At the same time, we had to make sure that all teachers had Internet access and a computer available - that's not a matter of course, either.
Keeping in touch with all the children was especially important to us in times of strict lockdown. This was the only way we could see whether the children were in safe conditions and well cared for. Again and again we noticed anxiety and depression in the children. The level of poverty increased so much during this time that for some families we also had to provide food. In addition, it was our task to inform the children and their families about hygiene measures and to provide masks and disinfectants for them. Without the support of the Friends, we would not have been able to continue our work so effectively. With your help, we have been able to keep and provide for the community.
Currently, only one-third of our student body is allowed on school grounds at a time. The split classes are taught on different days. It is good that we can see the children on a regular basis. For the days they do not come to school, they receive work packets to take home. Most of our students live in extended families in close quarters. Unfortunately, some have already had the experience of having a family member die as a result of Covid-19. Because of this, many fear that they will bring the disease home and infect older family members.
Covid-19 has brought to the surface once again the extreme inequality between rich and poor in South Africa. The donations we received from Joint Action: Corona Aid helped us continue to work with those most affected by the pandemic. Therefore, we sincerely thank all donors for their generosity.