We have entered into our third week of the Covid-19 nationwide lock-down here in South Africa. Last Thursday evening, 9th April, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announced that a further two-week extension to the existing 21-day lockdown will be implemented; taking us to the end of April. Here in Rammulotsi Township, in Northern Free State, the police and army take turns in patrolling the streets day and night; it is an unsettling sight, as sometimes the community seems more fearful of the police and army than of catching the virus. The streets are quiet as people try to remain indoors, practicing social distancing as best they can under extremely tight living conditions, sometimes without electricity or running water. It is strange to see our vibrant community of 52,000 households, who normally spend most of their time outdoors interacting with each other and socialising on the streets, confined like this. A township is the product of community and built with community at its heart. Many people within it rely heavily on the help of family and neighbours to survive. We worry about the 7.7 million South Africans who are HIV+ and will be particularly vulnerable to the Corona Virus. We worry about how many people in Rammulotsi work in the informal sector and won’t be able to feed themselves and their families. We particularly worry about our students. They would normally spend most of their April holidays at the Arts Centre participating in the holiday programme and playing outdoors with others. We worry what this confinement will mean for their physical and mental health. We worry that we are not able to supply a vital support system for them, and a safe space for them to talk about challenges they are facing. The DN team have been using this time to develop simple lessons and exercises which our students – no matter how old they are - can do at home with limited materials and space. We post these lessons every morning on our social media pages for those whom are able to access Internet and for our global audience whom are also at home. We hope these lessons can provide a sliver of hope and distraction for young people and parents alike, when both are hard to come by. We are also sending them directly to students’ phones for those who cannot access the internet. We continue to be available to our students telephonically and update them on health advice while we all just wait – trying, like the rest of the world, to keep positive and productive and trying to make sense of this ‘new normal’ wondering when schools will resume and hopefully we can return to an, albeit, improved and more compassionate, 'old normal'.
We would like to use this moment to thank everyone who have supported us during this time. We know everyone is under pressure and this is no less true for charities – particularly charities which work across borders. We are also very much aware that our focus within our community has changed since Covid-19 as the need for new materials like hand santizer, gloves and masks has becomes a necessity. In addition to arts education programming, we are also posting advice and instructions on how people can make their own protective equipment and what to do with it when they have it. Please help us continue our community outreach. For many of the kids we work with – we are the only support they have.
We have made it really easy to donate through our PayPal platform click here and see how https://www.paypal.com/gb/fundraiser/112574636177901026/charity/112542. Keep safe everyone, stay at home, stay positive and we will get through this.
Sending love from the Dramatic Need Team in South Africa.