Millions of people around the world will face extreme hardship this winter. Here are a few ways that you can help them cope.
A chill runs through your spine as an icy wind blows through the tattered hole in your jacket. You tug the fleece blanket (which happens to be the only thing separating you from the elements) higher in a useless attempt to escape the cold of the harsh South African winter. Sadly, this is the reality an alarming amount of our population is going to have to face this rainy season.
According to the 2016 Community Survey by StatsSA, 2,193,968 South Africans live in informal dwellings (defined as a dwelling or shack in a backyard or squatter settlement), and 142,270 fall under the “Other dwelling” category (defined as caravan, tent, and other dwellings in informal locations). This means that 14% of the population is living outside of the formal housing sector.
Beyond this, the survey also revealed that roughly 20% of the South African population (around 3.4 million people) reported that they had run out of money to buy food in the past 12 months, and 2.2 million people reported that they had skipped a meal in the last 12 months. “Winter is by far the hardest season for a large portion of our population, so we would like to encourage those who do not face the same challenges to do what they can to help their community this season,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“In an attempt to do our bit, we will be running a Coats & Cans drive for the month of June where people can drop off all of their unwanted coats, winter woollies and non-perishable food items at our participating offices across the country,” Goslett explains.
If you do not have a participating RE/MAX office nearby, then there are loads of other ways you can give back this winter.
Below are a few things Goslett suggests you can do in order to help your fellow man:
Buy shelter tickets
“Rather than handing out cash (which, by the way, does little to help beyond just providing for an immediate need for food or transport), it is far better to purchase a pack of shelter tickets to hand out to those in need. Most homeless shelters across the country charge a nominal ticket fee of around R10 in order for anyone to gain access to an evening meal and a bed for the night. Booklets of these tickets can usually be purchased directly from your nearest shelter, and are a great way of ensuring that somebody will get a warm meal and a good night’s sleep.”
Support a local charity
“There are so many NPOs doing great work in our country and most of them could use the outside help, either in terms of volunteers or in terms of donations. One of the charities that are making a huge difference in the housing sector is Habitat for Humanity: an organisation that builds homes and communities through corporate sponsorships, denotations and volunteer work. To find out how to get involved, visit their website at www.habitat.org.za.”
Drop off donations
“One of the easiest ways to give back this winter is to get rid of some of the things you don’t need at home. These aren’t items that are tattered and broken and need to be thrown out, but rather items that have been sitting in a box or still have a price tag attached since you bought them six months ago. There are a number of different organisations that make these items available to those who desperately need the help. To find your nearest charity shop, you can visit the CharitySA website at www.charitysa.co.za/charity-shops.”
“Ann Frank once famously wrote: ‘No one has ever become poor by giving’. As cliché as the quote has become, the truth of it still remains. Though it might cost you some time, effort, and/or money, helping those who need it is a rewarding experience that benefits both those who give and those who receive,” Goslett concludes.