Covid-19 heroes! Five South Africans who gave us hope during the pandemic

31 December 2020 - 07:00
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
Siya and Rachel Kolisi dropping off food parcels in Zwide township, Port Elizabeth.
Image: Instagram/Kolisi Foundation Siya and Rachel Kolisi dropping off food parcels in Zwide township, Port Elizabeth.

As scores around the country went into self-isolation and quarantine when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit SA, many will go down in history as heroes who decided to put their masks on, go out and make a positive difference by bringing hope and help to those in need.

Here are five times South Africans gave hope during a global pandemic:

Rachel and Siya Kolisi

Through their Kolisi Foundation, the couple donated food parcels and masks to communities in need throughout the Eastern Cape, for most of the lockdown.

With many people losing income as SA went on lockdown, the couple expanded their outreach to feed the hungry.

Rachel told the Sunday Times that it was important for the couple to get out of their comfort zone to support those who need it.

“We need to be taken out of our comfort zones to be able to help more people. I remember the first time we went out, we were so cautious about how people were going to feel about it. One thing that was super-important for us was to make sure that the food gets into the hands that it needs to,” she said.

Chefs collaborate to feed the hungry 

Chefs and culinary students collaborated through Chefs With Compassion to help feed the hungry by preparing fresh, nutritious meals during the hard lockdown. Chef Arnold Tanzer told the Sunday Times in June that chefs had managed to cook enough food to feed 62,000 people.

Tanzer said farmers donated fruit and veg which could not be sold because informal traders were banned from selling fresh produce during the lockdown.

DJ Black Coffee raises funds for charities 

“We are grateful to have you support the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the fight against Covid-19. We are all in this together.”

This is what the WHO had to say to the SA DJ who had raised more than R500,000 worth of donations in May, towards the Covid-19 relief fund.

The funds were raised through virtual concerts and crowdfunding. Among charities he supported are the #FeedingSATogether initiative, KFC's Add Hope and Gift of the Givers.

Cape Town photographer raises R400,000 for the needy

Cape Town-based photographer Chad Nathan raised more than R400,000 through crowdfunding to help feed the needy during the lockdown.

Nathan started off by taking pictures to document the lockdown, but his work took a different turn when he realised its impact on the poor. His Back-a-Buddy crowdfunding campaign, Raising Hope, was initially targeted to raise R100,000 but this amount quickly ballooned to over R576,000 as local and international donors backed the cause.

He supported various charities across SA.

Designer helps 2020 graduates with portraits 

Students who concluded their studies in 2019 were prevented from celebrating their milestones as graduation ceremonies were closed to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

A Joburg designer, whose business was affected by the lockdown, decided to create portraits for students who could not have their special moments captured on camera.

Vuyelwa Matsane said her business had slowed in the lockdown, but she got the idea through a client who asked her for a portrait to surprise her husband.

This not only helped her earn an income, but it also helped graduates create what would have been their special moments.

“I was praying and stressing about the coronavirus because the fashion design aspect of [my business] has been silent. I was thinking about how to make money and I really didn’t want to be doing masks. So when the idea dropped, I realised this is perfect,” she said.