“Even with the track record of looking out for the destitute for so many years, a pandemic like the coronavirus makes it extremely difficult for us to do what we are called to do” – Leona Pienaar, CEO of MES.
As South Africa grapples with the growing number of confirmed cases of people infected with the Corona virus (Covid-19), NPO Mould Empower Serve (MES), which operates in Hillbrow, Cape Town, Kempton Park and Port Elizabeth, continued to bring hope to the hopeless and has taken the initiative in protecting and educating the homeless and vulnerable inner-city communities about Covid-19.
“In our care, we have little children in our ECD centres, we have learners in our Training Centres and After School Programmes, we have older people in our shelters, in our canteens we have volunteers serving meals daily,” says Leona.
MES Johannesburg believes in a space where hope is possible, where values and norms are nurtured, where the disempowered are empowered, where human potential is developed and where dignity is restored. MES Johannesburg provides services regardless of age, religion or sexual orientation.
MES in the time of corona
“MES is a very holistic organisation, so as much as homelessness, hunger and feeding are close to our heart, so are our ECD and learning centres. In the past, our residents would go out to work and pay for a bed at night, but when COVID-19 struck, the need to provide support to the homeless escalated and we’ve had to change our model to keep people inside and start feeding them. The collaboration with SA Harvest and other organisations has allowed us to adapt to meet the need. The fact that the food we are serving is rescued is such a wonderful synergy, because we rescue people. But as much as the attention has been on providing relief to the homeless, we need to develop a model that’s sustainable, so that people are not living on relief. We have a dream of creating a cooking facility, which can only be realised through partnerships and we are excited to be working on a model with SA Harvest that will allow us to train the amazing women in our shelters to become self-sufficient and, at the same time, provide relief to the homeless,” says Leona Pienaar, CEO of MES.
“Both our shelters in Johannesburg are operating at full capacity, as well as the one in Kempton Park and in Port Elizabeth. The Cape Town shelter is also at full capacity with a waiting list of over 300 people,” she says. “We have been working with the Department of Social Development officials across the country to take in more people at all our shelters. In support of the City of Johannesburg, we opened up our Impilo facility in Hillbrow (formerly a HIV/Aids hospice) as an additional facility to accommodate a new intake of homeless women and disabled people.”
To find out more about MES, go to their website.