Challenging times have a knack for bringing out the champions amongst us. While the rest of us panic about the pandemic, the economy, and our dwindling supply of ‘prohibited items’, our local heroes are putting their own needs aside to lend a hand to others. In an effort to celebrate these extraordinary men and women, PURA Soda recently asked South Africans to nominate their local lockdown heroes. The nominations poured in, shining a light on the people who are responsible for so many acts of kindness, compassion and care during these tough times.
“With all the bad news out there, we wanted to focus on the good for a change, starting with the local unsung heroes who are making a difference and helping people during lockdown. We were amazed by how many selfless men and women are doing their bit to keep spirits up, provide essential services and ensure that their fellow South Africans are safe and healthy”, says Greig Jansen, PURA Soda CEO.
While every nomination is guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, the PURA Soda team has shared some of the nominations that really touched their hearts.
Bongiwe is a retired primary school cleaner who lives in KwaNqolothi Reserve, a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal. Concerned by the amount of hungry people in her community, Bongiwe took it upon herself to feed the needy. She now provides specially prepared meals to about 30 people in her area, all at her own expense, as often as twice a week. As if that’s not enough, she also works alongside a social worker from Ngwelezane Hospital, to make sure that the local elderly have access to vital medication and health checks.
Every day, Teresa Stober, a nurse working for the Upper Room Community NPO, leaves her family and travels to some of the most dangerous areas in Cape Town, including Valhalla Park and Hanover Park in the Cape Flats. During her 12 hour shifts, she provides health checks to at risk youths and counselling to addicts and their families.
In her spare time, Teresa also works as a street co-ordinator, assisting in the implementation of a vital feeding project in Bonteheuwel. As part of these efforts, she often helps to provide meals for over 300 people a day, many of whom have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With schools closed, many teachers took their lessons online to ensure that their students wouldn’t fall behind during lockdown. For the less tech savvy amongst them, this presented a significant challenge. Irma Venter, a Grade 6 teacher at Laerskool Randhart in Alberton, is one such teacher. However, determined not to let her students down, she quickly mastered the art of teaching online, even creating videos of her lessons to share with her students via WhatsApp.
Irma now starts every new class with a motivational message, making sure her students know that she is proud of them and that she misses them all. She has online class at 9am on weekdays and often repeats classes for students who were unable to attend. She also makes herself available throughout the day, taking calls from students and responding to questions via WhatsApp or email.
Roger Morris works as a porter on the trauma deck at Groote Schuur hospital, where he is in constant contact with people being tested for COVID-19. In March, Roger became one of the first frontline healthcare workers in South Africa to contract COVID-19. Unfortunately because Roger has vulnerable household members, he was forced to quarantine at a temporary isolation facility. However, despite his ordeal, as soon as Roger received a clean bill of health, he returned to the hospital where he continues to work tirelessly to care for his patients.
These are just a few of the many local heroes that PURA Soda is rewarding for their kind and selfless efforts.
“We believe that if you are in a position to make a difference, then you should, and if everyone had this philosophy then the world would be a better place. No grand gestures, just small things we can all do every day. Each of these local heroes embodies this sentiment which is why we decided to distribute R30 000 worth of PURA Soda hampers to thank them for helping us all to live a little pura”, concludes Jansen.