Deciding where to spend 67 minutes during a global pandemic is a lot harder than one would think. With so many parts of our country in desperate need, it felt like the efforts of our small agency team would hardly touch sides.
But after 18 July 2020, as we waved goodbye to the EPWF Shelter, each of us felt that we had not only made a real difference but received far more than we had ever expected in return.
“I am convinced more than ever before that as women we possess this innate power to survive. I believe that decades of abuse, patriarchy and loss of agency have engendered within us a spirit so strong that if harnessed can enable us to do amazing things. This belief was echoed yesterday when we spent our 67 minutes on Mandela Day at a women’s shelter. We were inspired by ordinary women who found the courage to leave their abusers and listened to their horrific stories of violence, pain, suffering, and in the midst of it all, we were moved by their audacity of hope. With GBV seen as South Africa’s second pandemic, I’m grateful to the team at Riverbed who embraced and realised the significance of our efforts. That innate power within us came alive yesterday and was used to do good... Thank you to all of you!” Monalisa
With the onset of lockdown, the number of women and children who have had to flee their homes due to gender-based violence has grown. As a 100% black-female led and owned
agency, and with a team largely made up of strong, dedicated women, a local women’s shelter was an obvious choice to dedicate our 67 Mandela Day minutes. But for us, we wanted it to be about more than simply donating goods or time for a day. Rather, we wanted to build a long-term relationship to help throughout the year to make a sustainable difference.
Our team of several Riverbedians, and even a few family members, made our way to the shelter armed with supplies of toiletries, door handles, nappies, bedding, books, toilet seats and more. Thanks to our generous clients, we were able to add cases of much-appreciated cold-drinks and water from CCBSA to our delivery, while McCain sent their own care package of healthy, nutritious frozen veg.
“This is the first time anyone has taken the time to visit.”
Lisha, Social Worker
After a welcome that moved many of us to tears, we divided into informal groups. While most of the ladies learnt the fine art of pottery from Art Director Muguette, the kids put their own creativity to use with multi-coloured playdough with ECD Bridget. To one side of the garden, Client Service’s Danielle directed the creation of a much-needed veggie patch, while mam’ Dot, queen of Traffic, cooked up a storm in the kitchen.
“I was humbled on Saturday and found myself questioning what I can do better,
and how I can do more. I look forward to more of these kind of engagements, and just more chances to do better.”
Nash (male Riverbedian)
As we worked and played together, we began sharing stories. And as we shared, the walls began to fall until it felt like we were just a group of new friends getting to know each other in a South African garden on a warm winter’s day.
“It was great to be reminded that the simple act of connecting can actually do so much for all involved. I hope that we can do more over time.”
Just before we left, one of the younger women recited a poem. As she spoke, a few of us wiped tears from our eyes as we realised that this was no simple day. It was a declaration that we cared about every strong, resilient woman’s story, and that we are invested in helping them to discover their next chapter.
“I have never been around a real kind man.”
Anonymous (on meeting our Riverbedian gentlemen)