Last March, all of our lives changed in ways we could have never predicted. As we mark the anniversary of one year of living with the COVID pandemic, we hope that this report helps you to “see” the effect that Living Hope has had in our communities since COVID arrived.
COVID has tested our commitment, flexibility, teamwork, strength and responsiveness, and we are so pleased that our staff have risen to the challenge, meeting this exceptional trial with grace and generosity. Our wonderful staff have worked tirelessly to get us through this last year, and we would like to publicly acknowledge their commitment and dedication to the task at hand.
Our leadership and trustees worked around the clock with Government and Disaster Management at all levels establishing our alignment with their response strategy and to outline our responsibilities at that time. Living Hope identified 4 areas that became our “Essential Services” through this time. We sought to adapt all of our ministries and programmes to support these 4 priorities:
1. Protecting and supporting our front-line Health Care staff.
Our Health staff are qualified Community Health Workers, and their experience and training prepared them well for such a time as this. Our aim in protecting them from COVID19 infection employed a multi-faceted approach in keeping them healthy while supporting their door-to-door hands-on care for those infected or affected by COVID-19. This type of work is extremely difficult and we were blessed to be able to protect our staff with the necessary PPE, sanitizing supplies, food parcels to support their personal nutrition, and frequent psychosocial debriefing during this difficult period. We are so happy to report that our staff infection rate of COVID was extremely low over the past year.
2. Nutritional support.
We knew that with an unemployment rate already at +/- 40% in our communities, that the economic storm following COVID would hit our vulnerable communities very hard. Jobs began to be lost immediately and we were hit with both a health and a hunger crisis at the same time. Food became a vital lifeline. The monumental scale of food distribution undertaken by Living Hope and in conjunction with many external partners cannot be overstated. Food support and delivery continues today through many routes and methods including food/grocery vouchers, food parcels, eeZeePaste™ NUT RUTF nutritional food supplements, Ndihluthi Stew distribution, and training and cooking with Wonderbag slow cooker technology using fresh Veggie Boxes grown through the Living Hope Harvest Training Initiative. Living Hope also facilitated the formation of the “Masiphumelele Relief and Care Forum” which divided Masiphumelele into 22 different sections, each with a team leader who oversees 7 designated Wonderbag trained cooks in each section. Conservatively estimated, the beneficiaries of Living Hope’s food relief efforts are just under half a million people served. Even we are surprised by this “loaves and fishes” outcome, which is nothing short of a miracle!
3. Chronic Medication Distribution.
Chronic medication distribution was previously a support service for clients who find it difficult to get to the pharmacy to collect the medications they are prescribed for everyday use. Suddenly, this service became absolutely essential, as hospitals were unable to cope with COVID plus the extra burden of chronic clients in the queues. For vulnerable populations, getting the medications that treat HIV/TB/ was absolutely essential. We were able to redeployed staff to deliver each person’s medication to their front door, completing a household assessment or home visit, (observing physical distance) ministering to them and evaluating the entire household for any other needs. To date we have delivered 28, 209 medication parcels. Essentially these are 30,000 people that have been enabled to stay at home during this time!
4. Our 22-bed In-patient Health Care Centre remained fully open!
We were able to take step-down and sub-acute patients coming mainly from over filled government hospitals. This eased the burden of care on the larger hospitals. Our Health Care Centre quickly transformed one of its wings into a separate unit ready to take clients recovering from COVID or awaiting transfer, including the use of a piped oxygen system ready to support these clients if needed. Due to the global shortage of testing kits, clients may or may not have been tested for COVID before admission to our hospital, so it was necessary to keep these clients, and the staff that care for them, separate from the rest of the hospital. We are very proud of how our staff adapted to meet the needs of these clients.
We praise God for sustaining Living Hope and indeed GROWING our ministries during this difficult time. What we have managed over the past 11 months is truly only by God’s help and the generous support of our broader community, including other non-profits, civil service societies, churches and other faith based initiatives, businesses and individual donors. Over the last year we have served 1.3milion people delivering R10.6million of COVID relief goods and services, across 8 locations. (Total Beneficiaries March 1st 2020 until Feb 28th 2021: 1 399 148; Value R10 592 859.56).
These COVID specific interventions were carried out in alignment with our Mission and Vision and are truly a testimony to seeking the opportunity to serve with responsive and integrated services. The strength of Living Hope has always been our ability as an organization to adapt and respond to the changing needs and circumstances of our communities, and COVID-19 was no different. With the basket of services and programmes already offered by Living Hope, we were well prepared to adapt these programmes into meaningful interventions meeting both practical and spiritual needs of the people. We moved forward not in fear but in FAITH. We had faith that God had historically used Living Hope in times of uncertainty to have a great impact. Now one year later, we can look back and see the nearly ten fold effect of increasing our footprint and services while Bringing Hope & Breaking Despair during this crisis.
We thank you for your continued support.