Brothers in arms help locals ‘living in disaster’

2017-04-18 06:00
The local group Brothers for Life recently hosted a prayer evening in Tornado Park where they served supper to 1000 people while also providing entertainment.

The local group Brothers for Life recently hosted a prayer evening in Tornado Park where they served supper to 1000 people while also providing entertainment.

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A group of men have banded together in Manenberg to help their neighbours during trying times.

Noegh Cornelius, founding member and chairperson of Brothers for Life, is passionate about his community and the cause his organisation serves.

“We are a group of men, born and raised in Manenberg, who got together and said that we want to do something to give back to the community,” he says.

The fledgling initiative was started in November last year after the men responded to a backyard fire in the area.

“We started this thing because there was a backyard fire which started where five houses were destroyed and we just jumped in because it was one of the people we grew up in front of. That is when we realised that it is not just disaster which we need to respond to; these people are living in disaster every single day.

“There are a lot of people who need a lot of things in our community and we are trying to do the basics like feeding, necessities. We have one or two sponsors who assist us. For example, every Friday we dish out 100F of food, but it is not enough,” says Cornelius.

The men started dealing with other social issues by bringing residents of certain areas together by hosting a prayer evening every three months in one of the parks in Manenberg, where they serve supper to everybody afterwards.

“We catered for 1000 people and we had five pots of 100F pots of food. We make the food ourselves and it is contributed by the brothers themselves. We make the pots of food on a Saturday morning,” he says.

The programme has gathered support and has even received attention from younger residents, who have formed their own “youth for life” movement.

“They are the ones on a Friday afternoon who distribute the food when most of us are at work,” says Cornelius.

He has urged the community to get into contact with him, especially with winter on our doorstep.

“The food that we are making every week is not enough. We are going into winter and a lot of the people who live in the Tornado Park area, those houses do not have geysers and even in some cases people have removed the bath so that they can accommodate a mattress over there. In our communities the people don’t move out, they move in. You get married, you move in with your wife, you don’t move out and the space just gets less and then that’s where the backyarders start. We will start collecting blankets and clothes. We want to change the food to soup, but we want to run it on a daily basis or every second day. That is our next short-term initiative,” says Cornelius.

Cornelius feels that their organisation is trying to fill the gap left by government, but understands how difficult the task is.

“It’s overwhelming. The lesson that I have learnt is that the more you give, the more you understand how much is needed and you become consumed because you cannot help everybody.”

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