When the Covid-19 lockdown came into effect many students at the University of the Free State found themselves in distress as they didn’t have the means to return home or to buy food. The UFS Rover Crew wanted to help, but in order to do so they needed to raise the funds. This is how they sourced global funding, distributed food parcels and used digital technology to ensure that their peers could purchase food.
“As students we already live on a budget. Some of us get financial support from our parents but most of us depend on government funding or have to work to fund our studies”, explains 22 year old Rover and project coordinator Siphila Dlamini.
“Nobody had foreseen or budgeted for a global pandemic. So when the emergency lockdown started, hunger soon took center stage. I believe in Ubuntu, the spirit of humanity. This pandemic reminded us that in order for all people to survive and thrive we need to band together, help each other and be agents of the change we want to see. That is why I stayed in Bloemfontein to be a part of this project. A total of 16 Rovers from the UFS Rover Crew have been driving the #HelpAStudent initiative.”
The UFS Rover Crew received funding to provide food relief packages to youth in need from the Messengers of Peace Disaster Relief fund and the German NGO Nangu Thina.
“With the assistance of the University of the Free State Student Affairs department and the Student Representative Council we gathered reliable and verifiable information about students who need food”, continues Siphila. “SRC officers Thobeka Buti and Gernus Terblanche helped us verify which students were receiving a monthly food allowance and those who really need the food relief packages. Simultaneously we collaborated with the Student Affairs team, more specifically with Kamogelo Dithebe and Buti Mnyakeni, to get the required clearance to receive the students’ information and contact details.”
“The bulk of the student body typically lives around the university. The three main suburbs being Universitas, Universitas Ridge, Willows and Brandwag. To make the first leg of the project successful we partnered with Respublica Student Living Lincoln House to provide a central pick up point for students living near the university. From the 1st to the 5th of June we distributed 20 digital food vouchers to students in distress from outside of Bloemfontein. These were then redeemed at Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets with the barcodes we sent. On the 5th of June 2020 we handed out a further 45 food parcels to students within the university area. The total number of food parcels including digital vouchers is 65”, elaborates fellow Rover Eugene Ramulondo.
This project is a good opportunity to remember our Scout Promise and to keep ourselves accountable to living true to its purpose.
“It has been a learning and bonding experience”, continues Siphila. “The team working on this project has shown immense dedication and commitment to its success. The use of digital vouchers has demonstrated that contact is not always relevant in projects such as ours. We have also learnt how bulk buying and distributing actual food packages could be a viable solution to getting more food for less money, as well as ensuring that healthier options are part of the packages that students receive. We aim to provide 100 students with food relief packages by the end of this project, and are also looking into long term sustainable solutions like establishing a food garden on campus. I am confident that we will succeed though our continued team work, collaboration and camaraderie.”
“As Scouts we promised to help others at all times. This project is a good opportunity to remember our Scout Promise and to keep ourselves accountable to living true to its purpose. We have helped so many people and will help many others before it is over. That is what it means to be a Messenger of Peace”, concludes Eugene.
#GlobalGoals #Scouts4SDGs #SustainableDevelopmentGoals #NoPoverty #ZeroHunger #COVID19 #lockdown #Youth #YouthMonth #SCOUTSSA #ScoutsSouthAfrica