It’s Day 84 of the South African lockdown. Although after the president’s speech last night, I’m not sure how long we can continue to describe the state we’re living in as a “lockdown”. I have a lot of thoughts on our current lockdown regulation situation, but I’m going to save those for tomorrow’s post.

Today I want to show you pictures of the backpacks full of food people received during the Melville food distribution this morning.

A man and his backpack full of food
A man shows me his backpack full of food.

The food parcels distributed in this program (which I started documenting more than a month ago) are usually packed in plastic grocery bags. It breaks my heart seeing hundreds of single-use bags going out into the world every week, but what other alternative is there when distributing emergency food on such a mass scale?

This week was different though. A donor provided hundreds of backpacks so each recipient received their parcel in a sturdy, reusable bag. This was very exciting.

Backpack food parcels
Backpack parcels ready to give out.

I took photos at both the backpack-packing yesterday and the backpack distribution today.

Food packing in Melville
Veggies ready to be packed, with the bags waiting behind.
Food-packing volunteers
Volunteers ready to work. If you live in Melville, you might recognize some of these guys — they are bead artists/artisans who sell their work on 7th Street.
Samuel and Tanya
Samuel was the first 7th Street artist I met when I moved to Joburg ten years ago. He once made a beaded version of my sister’s dog, which still sits on her mantel in Vermont. Samuel now focuses mostly leather goods and made this beautiful leather bag for Tanya, who runs the food parcel program. You can contact Samuel at +27-78-738-5957.
At the church this morning. Dear god, it was cold.
People inside the church to collect parcels
I never get tired of taking pictures inside this church.
Ladies with backpacks and hot water bottle
The lady on the right is holding a hot water bottle — best way to cope with this cold.
Kid at parcel collection
I need to learn this little boy’s name — I’ve seen him at the collection almost every week.
Volunteer Nicholas distracts another child while his/her mother waits in line.
Cute kid
This kid was freaking cute.
Ladies walking away with backpacks
Seeing this made me happy.

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.

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