Floods 2022 – How can I help?

Yet again, Durban is central to a South African crisis. The NPOs are busy-ing around trying to meet the needs of the community, the general public that is fortunate not to have felt the brunt want to help, companies are asked (yet again) to dig even deeper into their pockets to aid, and the municipality does its best to assist, but what is really needed?

It is a question that has been going around my head for a while.  Growing up in a family that moved a lot, I know what it is to be in a house, but not be able to find or use what you want at that moment. This is on another scale – the house is either under a thick layer of mud or is gone. On the other side, we have whole areas with no electricity and water (ironic when too much water is the cause of all the problems)due to infrastructure failure.

We busy ourselves placing plasters over gaping wounds of people’s lives by handing them a food parcel or blanket and second-hand clothes, but that is not the solution here. For example, we get them food (and that’s another whole story on its own – with so much infrastructure damage how does one know which roads to safely use to get to the location and if those roads will even hold the gifts of mercy? How are they to cook it, while they are in the community hall or as they slosh through the mud up to their knees in their houses? The answer is to support the soup kitchens for the moment as they can get the food to those who need it in the community halls full of displaced families, instead of the people who are generally first in the queue whenever disaster strikes – even Jesus commented that the poor will always be with us. The next question is, how do we get these people back to their homes? It is going to require an incredible feat of rubble removal, structural engineering, and building. Not the type of thing NPOs supply and for many of those affected, there is no insurance to pick up the tab, and even for those who have insurance, it’s going to be a long time until that comes through.

A water supply dam burst in eThekwini, a number of the major pipes, pumps and substations are no longer, that’s not talking about bridges and roads that need to be restored. These are no quick fixes. These are millions, if not billions of Rands that urgently need to be found for eThekwini to continue to be a place where people inhabit.

So yes, for the week ahead we will busy ourselves sending food and water, but we cannot do that for months. And yet again another group of people who do not have the street smarts available to them, get thrust upon the streets and are labelled homeless. It begins again with calls to the newspapers and police about the increase of vagrants in our Durban streets. COVID lockdown saw the first wave of people losing their livelihoods, the second was the riots last year, this is now the third. For some it’s going to be, “strike three, you’re out!”.  How do we prevent this? How do we reach out and care for those who need it and are not just taking advantage of the situation?

For businesses, ensure your employees are taken care of.

For individuals, take care of your staff and your family. 

And NPOs, ensure your current beneficiaries are taken care of first. 

The saying of doing for one which you wish you could do for many stands in good stead at this time.  Pick one, one family, who you have a relationship with and ensure they are seen to.  A roof over their heads, access to water and food, and that they are investing in solutions to their problems.  It’s not our responsibility to sort out homes for those who have lost them, but it is our privilege to aid those in need.

Durban, and the rest of South Africa and the world, thank you for your generous outpouring of food and “plasters” for the next season while we help those in need find solutions to their housing issues.