‘Blessing the rich by giving to the poor’ — NGO mobilises those who have much to help others

2013-12-20 00:00

WATCHING from her very comfortable seat while feeding her baby, Hillcrest businesswoman Cindy Norcott looked at the cupboards and drawers overflowing with baby clothes. Mostly unused, as her child was outgrowing everything so fast.

So a little seed was planted: There must be kids out there in need? Next thing she called on her friends, and down at St Mary’s Hospital saw the birth of the “Love the Babies” project.

Now volunteers from Umhlanga to Botha’s Hill arrive to help whenever the call for help goes out, say co-ordinator Kim Griffith Jones.

“Way back we handed out baby packs to new mothers from poor backgrounds, filling it with clothes, blankets, nappies, wipes and toiletries for the moms.”

While at the hospital, Norcott started asking around what happens to the kids after they leave the hospital.

“We found that because mom and baby often live in poverty, it is left to the grandmother to help take care of the child to allow the mom to look for a job.”

Another project was born, because often the grannies used a good part of their pension to help raise the little ones.

“They are such gracious women, always content but matriarchs in the family structure. These are women who will not hesitate to take care of not just their own grandchildren, but even those of neighbours whobegan the Gogo Bags Project — each bag contains a week’s worth of non-perishable food.

It is round about this time that the team realised they had to formalise everything and register an NGO.

“We are the middleman, mobilising resources to help the flow of help to the poor,” says Jones. Their motto was a natural flow from this: “Blessing the rich by giving to the poor”.

Yesterday they finished off their almost 70 projects for the year with the “Bless the Granny and Grandpa Project” at the Tuinsig Retirement Home in Morningside.

Started about five years ago, the group compile a wish list from the elderly — who can each choose a gift to the value of R125 — at various old age homes. These list are sent out via social networks and friendship networks, with overwhelming response.

“This is the saddest part,” Jones says, “because they ask for so little. The requests are for a chocolate, bottle of shampoo, shower cap, tube of toothpaste, pair of slippers.

“I thought: how can this be a luxury, and that made us all so much more conscious of the need out there.”

Last year 4 500 elderly in Durban got their presents thanks to the public who responded.

“What we have realised is how many people are prepared to help, not just money, but also their time and skills.

“Last week we had to pack 3 000 party packs for a kids’ Christmas party, on despite the pouring rain, over a hundred volunteers pitched up to help,” says Jones.

Earlier this year, the foundation received a donation of shoes worth tens of thousands of rands, and the “Walk Tall Project” in the townships gave its first steps.

Teenagers received a pair of new shoes, most of them for the first time — and were told to walk with dignity.

The help from the public and corporates has enabled them to extend help to child-headed households, assisting them with food and even buying school uniforms.

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