For the last couple of Thursdays mornings, I have intended to get myself to Heritage Baptist Church and the Melville food distribution by 6:00 a.m. The food parcel recipients have been lining up as early as 4:00 a.m., and the whole process is more or less finished by the time the sun comes up. I’m supposed to be documenting the program. But last week I arrived at 7:00 and basically missed everything.

We’re nearing the dead of winter in Joburg, when it’s cold and dark and nearly impossible (at least for me) to get out of bed before sunrise. But this week I made myself accountable by arranging to walk up to the church with another volunteer at 6:00 on the dot. (Thanks Lucy!) So we made it.

Sunrise at the Heritage Baptist Church.

I chose the right day to be up early. A cold front is about to blow into Joburg (there was snow in the Western Cape this morning, and below-freezing temperatures are on their way to town by tomorrow), which means the normally clear winter sky was scattered with clouds. I had the privilege of watching a phenomenal sunrise.

Security guard at sunrise
Guys leaving the church with their food parcels before sunrise
Sunrise and church

The sunrise was beautiful and cheered me up a bit — I think it was the first sunrise I’ve seen since lockdown started. But the parcel distribution itself was sobering, as usual.

People waiting in line for food parcels
I’m glad the cold front held off for an extra day. It was chilly enough this morning as it was, but tomorrow it’s going to be really freezing.
Mbali working hard, as usual.

Since so many people in Melville work in the hospitality industry, Tanya would like to keep this food parcel program going until restaurants can fully open again. There’s no telling when that will happen — COVID-19 cases continue to rise in South Africa — or how many of Melville’s restaurants will even still be around when the time comes. The situation is very dire.

If you’d like to donate to the food parcel program from within South Africa, please send a payment to the Viva Foundation using the following bank details:

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

If you’d like to donate from overseas, please contact me. My apologies to those of you who contacted me last week and received delayed replies; I’m having an issue with my Google spam folder. I’m now checking the folder every day to make sure no messages fall through the cracks.

To everyone who donated last week: Thank you. Your support helped ensure this program will continue at least through next week. I personally received more than R7000 in donations from overseas, which covers more than 50 food parcels, and I know there were many local donations as well. So at least 50 Melville families — probably many more — will have food to eat this week because of you.

The wind is picking up outside as I type this. Stay warm tonight, South Africans. Speak to you tomorrow.

Jozi winter sunrise
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