Since the beginning of the national lockdown 16 year old 1st Stellenbosch Scout Ben Astfalck has been actively doing his best to enhance safety measures for people commuting to and from work in the Cape Winelands.
“When the government shared the prevention measures about COVID-19 my dad noticed that there were no precautions being taken at the taxi rank located opposite his business in Franschhoek”, explains Ben.” People were going to work and taking a taxi home to their families on a daily basis. My dad designed and manufactured ‘sanitizing stations’ where people could wash their hands with water and soap – as per government guidelines. This way they could keep themselves and their loved-ones a little safer. My dad and I started installing these stations at various locations in Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Nyanga and Khayelitsha.”
“One of the 1st sanitizing stations I helped to set up was at a soup kitchen in the informal settlement of Langrug, in the disadvantaged Groendal community, on the outskirts of Franschhoek. While I was there I decided to stick around and help by serving food. We came up with a solution for social distancing as it was hard to enforce that. We tied cable-ties to a rope and asked people to hold on to those. As they entered to collect their food they could then wash their hands. It was such an eye-opener for me! I had not been down to Groendal before. I was not aware of the amount of people nor the conditions in which they live together. When serving the food I was taken aback by the amount of small children that came to get their meal for the day. As a teenager that has never gone hungry a day in my life, that was very humbling”, he says pensively.
I was taken aback by the amount of small children that came to get their daily meal
“Franschhoek resource and networking co-ordinating organization (FRANCO), local chefs and NGO’s have partnered to provide food and food parcels to the needy in our community. Initially they needed a place to store the food and assistance with deliveries. We provided that for them. The FRANCO have now taken that over, but we still assist with the soup kitchen on Saturdays.
We continued to focus on the sanitizing stations. Over the lockdown period we set up 17 units for people to wash their hands. My dad covered the cost for 15 of them and we got sponsorship from Shoprite for the two we installed at taxi ranks in Nyanga and Khayelitsha”, continues Ben.
“I am not a person to sit at home and get bored. People have to go to work to provide for their families and so I wanted to do something worthwhile. By installing sanitising stations at the taxi ranks I hope we were able to break the cycle of infection there. Going into areas where COVID-19 cases are high was not something I thought of as I am never really worried about things I can’t control. I took the needed precautions, wore my mask and washed my hands often. The installation of the sanitizing units went fairly well. We just needed to improvise in Nyanga as the water tap wasn’t working properly, so we installed a new one.
If life throws you an opportunity to help, grab it with both hands.
Being a teenager is all about learning. I would encourage my peers to look around at what is happening under your noses in your community. If life throws you an opportunity to help, grab it with both hands. You don’t need to do huge projects, something small is all it takes.”
#MessengersOfPeace #COVID19 #lockdown #CommunityService #SCOUTSSA #ScoutsSouthAfrica #GlobalGoals #YouthMonth #CreatingABetterWorld