We are now on day 18 of lockdown in South Africa. At the end of last week, President Ramaphosa announced that it would be extended until April 30, so another 20 days … We can only leave our homes to buy food or medicine and for medical attention. Nothing but essential services are allowed to continue.The military is assisting the police with enforcement. A couple were recently arrested immediately after saying their vows at their wedding for exceeding the maximum number of people!
Social distancing, isolation, quarantine, lockdown, hand sanitiser, face masks and hand washing have become a part of our daily vocabulary. With it comes a whole new way of living – confined to our homes. It takes some adjustments. For the first week I kept thinking that I needed to get ready to attend meetings or reminding myself to bring something to give to a co-worker only to realise that I wasn’t going anywhere.
We are constantly shown news from around the world, with rising numbers of people who are infected, sick and dying. It can result in fear and anxiety, with new stresses from working from home (those of us who are fortunate enough to do this), home-schooling, time management and isolation for those who are living alone. Add to this the economic strain that so many are experiencing, and it can be rather overwhelming with an uncertain time frame.
At Seed of Hope we had to suspend programs a few weeks ago, and then once lockdown started we shifted to a virtual medium of communication. We were concerned for the beneficiaries of our programs; from children and youth, job preparation, those learning skills such as baking, sewing, computers and carpentry to the elderly grandmothers (gogos) in our support groups.
Against this backdrop I have been amazed at the creative potential that is being tapped into! Our team is very diverse in cultures, ages and backgrounds which has been a great strength when it comes to brainstorming ideas. We start each day connecting via ZOOM for devotions, prayer, feedback and to discuss each team’s goals. Here is a quick overview of what we’ve been up to:
- Using social media, phone texts and What’s App to build relationships.
- Informing community members what COVID19 is and how to take safety precautions for themselves and others.
- Dispelling rumours such as only rich people who travel are at risk, therefore those in the townships and rural areas don’t need to comply.
- Encouragement, how to help parents home-school children via radio programs, designated TV stations, and internet (for those who have wifi or can afford data).
- Ideas for keeping children engaged – baking, projects, games to play at home.
- Posting and texting encouraging messages of hope.
- Ensuring all gogos are safe and well. They were so excited that they were cared for and noticed, and said that they felt loved when communicated with.
- Forming a Parent’s What’s App group.
- Prayer partners (one on one).
- Sewing masks at home, sharing patterns.
- Recording videos of baking at home, sharing recipes.
- Recording videos to practice job interview skills, help with CV’s / resumes.
- Prayer chain – each person covering an hour of the day in prayer.
- Gratitude challenge.
- Encouraging teachers and school administrators.
I thank God for this incredible team who are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives and are finding innovative ways to express God’s love.
Personally, I have had a steep learning curve. I am figuring out how to record and post sermons on YouTube, starting a blog and discovering how to link posts with other social media.
My blog can be found at: heather-liebenberg.blogspot.com
I am blessed to belong to two weekly prayer groups and platforms to meet with family and friends around the world. I can’t imagine what this time would be like without technology and the ability to connect with the world beyond the walls of my house!
God bless and keep you,
Photo credit Edwin Hooper, Faye Van Wyk