FEEL GOOD | NPOs surprise Charlotte Maxeke healthcare workers with 250 bouquets of flowers

Ubuntu Beds provides accommodation for health workers.
Ubuntu Beds provides accommodation for health workers.
Andrew Levy (@yebo_levy, Instagram)
  • Ubuntu Beds, a non-profit organisation initiated the idea of placing 250 bouquets of Cyclamen flowers at the hospital's entrance to honour frontline healthcare workers for their bravery. 
  • The founder of the NPO is a Covid-19 recovered patient and started the organisation after noticing the strain frontliners were faced with.
  • The NPO pairs healthcare workers across the country with free accommodation.  

Covid-19 frontline healthcare workers at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital were caught by surprise on Tuesday after 250 bright pink potted Clycamen flowers were placed on the grass at the entrance, spelling HEROES, as a token of appreciation for their commitment. 

The initiative was thanks to a partnership by two non-profit organisations, Ubuntu Beds and Together We Bloom. 

Ubuntu Beds is an organisation that pairs healthcare workers with free accommodation and Together We Bloom raises funds for communities in need - through the sale of flowers and plants. 

Ubuntu Beds founder, Kim Whitaker, who herself is also a recovered Covid-19 patient, told News24 that the idea behind the surprise was inspired by friends in Lebanon who had done something similar. 

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Whitaker said she reached out to Together We Bloom asking if they would be keen to collaborate and donate flowers. 

coronavirus
Ubuntu Beds provides accommodation for health workers.

She said the gesture uplifted the spirits of the healthcare workers, adding that Covid-19 hospitals were tense and a sign of gratitude was needed. 

Fundraising

"The feedback was really positive. We did this in order to drive awareness for Ubuntu Beds as well. We have already accommodated a number [of workers] from Charlotte Maxeke already.

"We drove awareness for more healthcare workers to sign up and also for our fundraising drive where we fundraise to be able to pay for the accommodation, because it [is] free for healthcare workers," Whitaker said.

ALSO READ | My coronavirus diary | A swab halfway to my brain and then the call: ‘You are positive’

She started the organisation in May after contracting the virus and realising the struggles healthcare workers were going through.

Whitaker said she realised healthcare workers were committed to going to work which meant they placed their families at risk.

coronavirus
Ubuntu Beds provides accommodation for health staff.

"I come from the hospitality industry, so I could see that tourism was just stopping very suddenly. I was like, we have got all these empty rooms and all these healthcare workers risking their families and so what about we put them in the rooms," added Whitaker. 

The NPO is housing healthcare workers at no cost and doing so through private donations and corporate sponsorship.

Almost 500 healthcare workers across the country have been accommodated already, said Whitaker. She added that the organisation's aim was to accommodate 2 500 healthcare workers over the next period, and were raising an amount of about R15 million in order for that to happen. 

To date, 7 910 bed nights have been booked with 797 healthcare workers signing up.

Whitaker said the average stay was between seven and 14 days and was open to the private and public healthcare sector. 

"We are using lots of guesthouses, small apartments where the money is flowing back into that small business owner and they are able to keep their staff employed and keep their business running," she said. 

Together We Bloom director Stefan Zeelie told News24 that they were more than willing to come to the party when Ubuntu Beds approached them.

He said Together We Bloom was all about helping and coming together as a nation, and that Ubuntu Beds' idea of helping frontline workers made sense to the organisation. 

"We are very open to whoever at the moment [is] doing good work. It made sense that they (Ubuntu Beds) were doing good work and we wanted to assist," he said. 

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