SOUTH AFRICA: Salesian Youth Ministry team member coordinates relief efforts in face of coronavirus pandemic
(MissionNewswire) Nhlanhla Lucky Mdlalose, a member of the Salesian Youth Ministry team at Bosco Youth Center, located in Walkerville, Johannesburg, South Africa, coordinates relief efforts to help those who are most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many people living in poverty are suffering in Johannesburg. Some children don’t even have a blanket to warm them during the winter months. The elderly are sleeping on the floor in unstable shacks that have holes in the roof. Mdlalose asked, “Where do they find the strength that they need to overcome all of this?”
Because of the suffering and overwhelming need, youth of Dobsonville and Snake Park have taken it upon themselves to be the change and give these families blankets, warm clothing and warm food.
Two months after the lockdown and at a time when people were becoming increasingly desperate, Mdlalose and the other youth began to prepare warm meals every Sunday, including vegetable soup, pap, bread and other hot items. The 15 youth gather in the early morning hours and begin preparing nutritious meals. Mostly they use their own funds to get the soup ingredients, but some generous people in the area occasionally donate something. To date, their soup kitchen has fed more than 3,000 people in Snake Park Township in Soweto.
Mdlalose recognizes that feeding the hungry only addresses part of the families’ needs. The group is also providing warm blankets, which will go a long way in alleviating the bitter winter cold. They are also appealing for winter clothes for children, women and men, including tracksuits, jerseys, long-sleeved vests, jackets, warm shoes, pajamas and trousers. The group is also calling for help to provide hygiene items for families in need.
Salesian Brother Clarence Watts, delegate for social communication of the Southern Africa Vice-Province, said, “Nhlanhla is a truly inspiring young man, together with his team of youth. There is no Salesian presence in Soweto, but Nhlanhla has brought the Salesian spirit of generosity and kindness to the most vulnerable youth in Soweto. Don Bosco would be very proud of him.”
Poverty is extensive in South Africa with more than half the population and more than 63 percent of children living below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. A significant percentage of the population struggles to survive on less than $1 a day. The country is plagued by high crime rates and violence against women and girls and has been the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS crisis in the world. There is an urgent need for education to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus and to help lift youth out of poverty.
Salesian missionaries have been working to restore hope in South Africa, particularly among poor youth. From empowering girls and young women to building schools and teaching trade skills, missionaries have a long history of affecting change in the country.
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Salesian Missions – South Africa
UNICEF – South Africa