It’s Day 63 of the South African lockdown, and for the second consecutive Thursday I took photos at the weekly Melville food parcel distribution program.

I wrote about this program in detail last Thursday. This week the process was the same, except: 1) The volunteers gave out more food this week than last week; and 2) The distribution moved from Tanya and Sean’s house on 3rd Avenue to the Heritage Baptist Church at the corner of 7th Avenue and 5th Street.

Food parcel collection at the Heritage Baptist Church in Melville
People wait in line for their parcels inside the beautiful Heritage Baptist Church.

Thanks to this move, the distribution happened much more quickly today than it did last week. Also these volunteers are incredible — what an efficient, courteous, and good-natured group of people. I was (and still am) in awe.

Tanya Gardiner at the food distribution
Tanya, the leader.
Mbali
Mbali.
Mbali giving out coffee
The other Mbali (right). It was freezing cold so three volunteers spent the morning distributing coffee to people in line.
Another coffee lady whose name I never got.
Maarten volunteer
Maarten, whose outfit matched the stained glass.
Volunteers in face shields
Siboniso (right), Samuel (center), and a man whose name I have forgotten. (Someone help me.) It was great to see a few more faces today, thanks to these clear face shields.

All of the compliments I gave to the volunteers above also apply to the people who came to pick up their parcels. Every single person at the church today was respectful and kind. Everyone wore a mask (when they weren’t drinking coffee). Everyone socially distanced. Everyone sanitized. Everyone was patient and helpful.

People waiting for food parcels

Witnessing this process overwhelmed me.

When I got home I saw a social media post — written by someone who had walked past the distribution but didn’t know the details of what was going on — that said some very unkind, insensitive, and ignorant things. Try as I might, I can’t seem to banish that post from my mind and I just want to rant on and on about it but I know that wouldn’t be productive.

Instead I’m going to resort to a few clichés:

  1. We’re all in the same boat, but we’re not all in the same storm.
  2. There but for the grace of God go I.
  3. What you think about me is none of my business. (This one is especially for me.)
  4. If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. (This one is slightly more polite than the rude American cliché I had originally included: Don’t be a dick.)

That is all for today.

Today’s Worthy Cause

Same as last week, I encourage you to support the Viva Foundation — the charity behind the Melville distribution program. To donate, send an EFT to the following account and write “Melville” in the reference field:

Name: Viva Foundation
Branch: FNB Olympus Plaza Code 258155
Acc Nr.: 622 4884 3270
Reference: Melville
SWIFT: FIRNZAJJZXXX

One food parcel, which feeds a family of four for approximately one week, costs R130 (just over $7.) If you’d like to donate from overseas, please contact me.

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