Covid-19 – flattening the curve of poverty

Covid-19 – flattening the curve of poverty

Now we can take another step in the page of our lives

Jambase Mfuleni teacher

March and April 2020 have been challenging months for South Africa, the globe and in our small corner, Mfuleni Township outside Cape Town.  We have heard much about flattening the curve of the COVID-19 virus spread and we recognise the importance of lockdown but the knock-on effect has been devastating for the 30 educares that we support.

In a township environment, nothing works quite the same as elsewhere. There is an unwritten agreement between parents and the principal of the school their children attend: If my child doesn’t come to school, I don’t pay. In normal conditions this is challenging as the schools end up only getting fees for 8 months a year, but they make it work. In a COVID-19 scenario, it is catastrophic. As soon as schools closed on 19th March 2020, parents stopped paying. Schools have NO reserves of cash so this meant that by the end of March, there were already 32 teachers across the 9 hub schools we support who received no salary.

The lockdown has impacted on children’s nutrition, given that they aren’t getting school meals.

Starting Chance realised that we needed to change our focus and start to see how we could flatten the curve of poverty, hunger and desperation amongst the teachers and their families. We conducted a survey across all 30 schools we support and the results were heart breaking. 95% of the principals could not pay their teachers in April at all. 5% were able to pay a little because they were receiving a subsidy from the government. None of the schools were eligible for support from the government funds as staff were not registered for UIF. They had nowhere to go for help. They needed a safety net to survive.

We sent out a letter of appeal to our Friends of Starting Chance, our partners and our donors. In total, across the 30 educares there are over 169 teachers. 169 families with no money for food. 169 families with children going hungry. Incredibly, within 14 days we raised R250K and were able to let the teachers know that Starting Chance would be able to provide a R1500 Covid-19 subsidy for April. By the end of April, we will pay out 201 subsidies. The response was extraordinary. Below are some of the WhatsApp messages we received from the teachers and principals:

“I will appreciate it – it will make a huge difference – thank you very much.” Sisipho

Thank you to you and your team for the effort you put into our life as a community of Mfuleni. May God give you the strength to keep serving the communities who are under privileged in our society.” Major.

It is in times such as these that we appreciate the “invisible threads that are the strongest ties.” The threads of support from around the globe where friends and partners of Starting Chance have stepped up to help us “flatten the curve of poverty and desperation.” The knock on effect of this support goes far beyond the giving of money – it builds bridges of hope, support, and love and it lets our phenomenal teachers and principals battling in Mfuleni know that we care. Thank you to all those who have donated. But more help is needed.

Please consider donating to our teachers

In the absence of parent fees for April, schools will need subsidy support in May, as salaries are unlikely to be paid. In addition, if lockdown is relaxed and children return to educares, they will need our help with providing food for children. This is often the only meal in the day for them.  Please help us. Donate here:

https://www.startingchance.org.za/take-action/

Or directly to:

Starting Chance Trust, First National Bank,  Account no: 62572802504, Hout bay Branch 250655, Reference: COVID-19 (name)

One of our Starting Chance schools, Blooming Stars, has their teachers making meals during lockdown for the children and handing out learning material to parents to take home.



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