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International relations rice to the occasion as donation seeks to feed great need

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Dignitaries and representatives from various non-profit organisations gathered at the South African Red Cross Society’s office in Wynberg on Tuesday 13 September for the official handover of 40 tons of rice, a donation from the Taiwanese government. PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen
Dignitaries and representatives from various non-profit organisations gathered at the South African Red Cross Society’s office in Wynberg on Tuesday 13 September for the official handover of 40 tons of rice, a donation from the Taiwanese government. PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen

A recent donation of 40 tons of rice to be shared among various communities in the Western Cape and further afield is set to go a long way.

On Tuesday 13 September, dignitaries and representatives from non-profit organisations (NPOs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) gathered at the South African Red Cross Society’s (SARCS) office in Wynberg for the official handover.

A donation from the Taiwanese government, the rice will be divided among three NGOs – SARCS, Meals on Wheels (five tons) and the Garden Route Food Pantry (four tons) – as well as 11 MPs to be shared among their constituents.

Fernel Campher, Disaster Management Officer at SARCS, said their share would be distributed to their early childhood development centres, old age homes and feeding schemes located across the province.

The NPO is part of the world’s largest humanitarian movement and supports people affected by natural disaster and conflict. It is an auxiliary organisation to the government of South Africa to compliment the government on disaster management, provision of social services and health and care. At present, the NPO feeds over 10 000 people per week in the Western Cape alone.

Campher said SARCS welcomed the donation of the staple food.

“We love our rice, especially our kerrie (curry). This is rice that is borne from our friends from Taiwan. So we will receive the donation and it will go to people who will benefit from our programme,” said Campher.

He added that SARCS relied on donations like these since the NPO didn’t have national funding.

“Our footprint is not just in Cape Town. We stretch as far as Riviersonderend, Mossel Bay, Knysna and George. We make waves where it matters. We believe in what we stand for. And we alleviate suffering through any means necessary.”

MP Noko Masipa, recently appointed as the shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, said the two tons allocated to him would be set aside for Khayelitsha.

“When the Taiwan informal settlement had a fire, David (David Yintso Lin, Director General of the Taipei Liaison Office in Cape Town) was the first one to say, ‘Noko, where is this Taiwan?’ I had to sit down and explain about this small island in Khayelitsha named Taiwan.

“And now your support with the rice. We are faced with inflation and the rising cost of living. Our people are unemployed. And this will come in quite handy to many people in our township,” said Masipa.

Another two tons of rice will go to MP Alexandra Abrahams, the shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development, whose constituency is based in Elsies River and the Cape Flats, including Bonteheuwel and Uitsig.

Abrahams said there was massive unemployment in these communities which left many children in need of being fed on a daily basis. She said this donation would go to the many feeding schemes and soup kitchens in these areas.

“Those first 1 000 days of a child’s life is so important, when they need that nutritional value in order to develop their cognitive and their fine motor skills to grow up and to be productive members of society. So thank you very much for this donation,” said Abrahams.

The island Taiwan is located roughly 160 km from the coast of south east China. Covering about 36 194 square kilometers, the island has a population of 23,49 million. With Taipei City as its capital, the island is home to more than 90% of the manufacturing capacity for the world’s most advanced semi-conductors (2021 Boston Consulting Group report). A semiconductor is a substance that has specific electrical properties that enable it to serve as a foundation for computers and other electronic devices.

The self-ruled island has its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders. Although it is not a member of the United Nations (UN), it aspires to participate.

Speaking at last week’s handover, Lin said the donation was part of Taiwan’s vision to offer a helping hand to other democratic nations.

He said Taiwan valued its relationship with South Africa because of the shared values, such as human rights and democracy.

“We all have different histories, we all have different pasts but we have the same future,” said Lin.

The rest of the donation will be divided among MPs Judy Hermans (two tons), Zoliswa Kota-Mpeko (two tons), Claudia Ndaba (two tons), Bantu Holomisa (two tons), Veronica van Dyk (four tons), Chris Hunsinger (two tons), Samantha Graham Maree (two tons), Mimmy Gondwe (two tons) and Siviwe Gwarube (two tons). Two tons also went to a soup kitchen supported by Dr Ivan Meyer.

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