Since the outbreak of the novel Corona Virus in our country and the concomitant National Lockdown, the issue of the provision of food parcels to poor families has become of critical importance. Our Safe Places are located at informal settlements and townships around Port Shepstone. These residential areas house several thousand people, the majority of whom are unemployed and poor. Moreover, vast numbers of those who had been employed before the Lockdown, now find themselves unemployed and without income. Although the Government has announced a number of measures to alleviate the situation such as by way of unemployment insurance funding, the resources available to it are very limited. Our country’s economy and growth has been contracting for some years now.
Being locked down means that the poor in our communities have no opportunity of earning an income to buy food. This creates a dangerous situation as it invites the plunder of stores and others’ residences with consequent civil unrest. Some churches and organizations such as The Gift of the Givers have begun to provide food parcels to those in need. Government too has announced measures to relieve hunger during the Lockdown, including the provision of food parcels to low or zero income families.
We have been invited by DOXA Deo, a multi-site church with locations throughout South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand, to join forces with them in accessing funding in a responsible manner from the Government in order to provide food parcels where they are needed.
This avenue is still being explored.
The Norwegian Settlers Church, through the Genesis Trust, is already doing exactly what is intended and needed. That, over and above our provision of food for the Care Centre and Baby House. Since Lockdown some 116 families (598 people) have been provided with food parcels by our Safe Place team and other Genesis employees. These parcels are however only sufficient to feed a relatively small family (consisting of four person) until the end of April 2020. Some 40 percent of those we need to reach are children under the age of 16. Now that the National Lockdown is certain to be extended by the President beyond 30 April 2020, the challenge has become even greater.
Employees of the Genesis Trust identify those families most in need in the greater community, which stretches from Hibberdene in the north to Port Edward in the south and Izingolweni in the West so as to ensure that food parcels reach them. With donations received from our congregants and business people and other benefactors, we make up food parcels and provide them to the intended beneficiaries. Needless to say, we are totally overwhelmed by the desperate need the Lockdown has brought about.
It is appreciated and understood that any potential benefactor or sponsor would want to, before committing him or herself to a donation of any kind to a public benefit organization, be assured that the donation would be responsibly dealt with by the recipient in the sense that it would reach the intended beneficiaries and ultimately be fully accounted for. This is something that the Genesis Trust prides itself in. Every cent of a donation is accounted for by us to our benefactors by means of a modern and reliable accounting system operated by persons whose integrity is beyond doubt. The accounts are audited by a prominent firm of auditors every year. Our books are open to donors’ scrutiny at any time!
The Trust is keeping record of every person assisted and the amount spent on each family. We have been providing nutritious food parcels to the value of about R 1000 to families of four (including sanitary products and toiletries) and these are expected to last a month. The National Lockdown is expected to last several months.
Although Genesis is a registered trust with its own books, it falls under the covering of the Norwegian Settlers Church (NSC). The bulk of the donors, specifically international churches, have come on board through a relationship with NSC. NSC however does not derive any financial benefit from this relationship, as 100% of the monies donated are utilised to fulfil the mission of the Genesis Trust.
The Trust currently employs 120 workers, most of whom are permanent staff members. Its social impact on the communities which it serves is huge and apparent. Nobody would today deny that it has become a household name. It is respected and supported by the local Municipality, the Departments of Health and Social Development, Employment and Labour as well as the South African Police Service. In some respects the Genesis Trust provides a parallel service to our communities. It would be no exaggeration to say that it is known for changing lives for the better. We have found that the various communities have adopted our ministries as their own.
Since 97 % of the beneficiaries of the Genesis Trust are black it qualifies for elevation to "Level One Contributor", having a B-BBEE recognition level of 135%.
At present there are fourteen ministries managed by the Genesis trust but due to the COVID-19 National Lockdown in South Africa, which was promulgated on 18 March 2020 by the President of our country, only three of them have remained fully operational since the 26th of March 2020.
These are the Genesis Care Centre, a step down hospice facility where we care for 40 terminally ill indigent patients; the El Roi Baby Home, where were care for up to 12 infants who had been abandoned or otherwise endangered; and the five Safe Places, where we receive and protect women and children from disadvantaged communities who find themselves threatened by imminent sexual or domestic violence.
While the Care Centre receives a subsidy of some 50% of its total expenses from the state, the Baby Home and Safe Places receive none. Consequently the Genesis Trust relies on the goodwill of our overseas sponsors (primarily churches), businesses, congregants of our Church and members of our community to cover the rest. A considerable part of the expenses of these ministries has been and continues to be that which was and is spent on the purchase and preparation of food for the patients and infants in our care.
The Genesis Trust urgently, no, desperately requires financial support to purchase non-perishable food support to enable it to continue doing so during the period of crisis. As it is, we have been able to reach only a handful of those in a desperate situation. We trust that God will provide, as He always does, in their need through others such as yourselves and it is with this confidence that we appeal to you for help.