‘I have not eaten in three days’

2020-04-30 06:00
These Sisters of Mercy are from Ireland but moved to the Eastern Cape to help the vulnerable of the Sundays River Valley. Sister Martha O’Connor and Sister Breda Ryan have been involved with charity in the Valley for the past 14 years.                         photos:SUPPLIED

These Sisters of Mercy are from Ireland but moved to the Eastern Cape to help the vulnerable of the Sundays River Valley. Sister Martha O’Connor and Sister Breda Ryan have been involved with charity in the Valley for the past 14 years. photos:SUPPLIED

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“I have not eaten in three days.”

These words are from a very poor family in the Sundays River Valley, who were asking Marist Mercy Care for food, following the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa.

“We have had to temporarily close our projects owing to the Covid-19 lockdown laws. However, we continue to provide nutritional support to those most vulnerable by virtue of being registered as an essential service provider,” said Jason Grieve, director Place of Mercy and Hope, a non profit and public benefit organisation.

“Sadly, our current situation has left most of our communities more vulnerable than ever before and in almost all cases, completely forgotten about. Many families in these communities have completely lost their source of income.”

Marist Mercy Care, which was founded by Sisters Martha O’Connor and Breda Ryan (Sisters of Mercy) together with Brother Christopher Zimmerman (Marist Care), has been in existence in the Sundays River Valley for the past 14 years.

Marist Mercy Care cares for thousands of vulnerable children and adults, builds educational facilities and basic health care structures and provides nutritional support.

During lockdown, Marist Mercy Care continues to help the poor and vulnerable by providing much needed support in the form of food parcels and basic necessity items.

“Many people are solely dependant on us during this time as there are very limited other means of support available. It is up to us to ensure that these communities are provided with the bare essentials,” said Grieve.

“We are solely dependant upon donations to purchase essential items and we have been astounded by the support from our local and international supporters.”

Marist Mercy Care has taken strict precautionary measures during the distribution of essential items to families ensuring correct social distancing by all involved. Volunteers who assist the distribution all wear some form of protective gear as personal protective equipment is still hard to come by in the Sundays River Valley area.

“We have received enormous co-operation from the South African Police Service as policemen and -women often accompany us and help us when we deliver food parcels and to ensure social distancing when receiving their parcels,” said Grieve.

“We give thanks to those Sundays River Valley Municipal community leaders and the local police department personal who have aided us during this very important time.”

In addition to Marist Mercy Care’s Covid-19 response to providing essential food items, a local sewing group which was founded called “Addo Township Designs” continues to make hundreds of fabric face masks for the communities. “These masks are distributed with the parcels (when possible) and also supplied to the local citrus farmers in the area to keep them and their workers safe,” said Grieve.

To date, Marist Mercy Care have packaged over 650 parcels equating to a weekly meal for roughly 2 500 children and adults.

“We would be grateful to all South Africans to continue sharing Marist Mercy Care’s mission to friends, family and industries so that further assistance can be received for the poor and vulnerable during this unpredictable period,” said Grieve.

  • For more info or to donate food parcels to Marist Mercy Care, contact Jason Grieve on 083 656 1868, e-mail: grieve@iafrica.com or visit their website: www.placeofmercyandhope.com or

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MaristMercyCare/

Instagram: MaristMercyCare

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