After a cold welcome in a room of empty chairs at what was meant to be a regular meeting for the Cape Women’s Agriculture Association (CWAA) in the Karoo, the event’s organisers realised their community is facing a massive problem: the drought.
CWAA’s Karen Barnard said the organisation understood their community was going through a difficult time and that “if the women could not come because they had no money, they must be suffering”.
They wanted to offer some relief.
“We sat down and started thinking of ways to help the communities, especially the farmers who were struggling because of the drought. We came up with the idea of a gift box. We would ask people to donate a box the size of a shoebox or bigger and fill it with nice things, like toiletries, scarves, bracelets, perfumes and some nice food that they wouldn’t have bought on a tight budget. Just something nice for the women to relieve them of stress.”
She said they initially wanted to involve only three or four towns and a church to where the donations would be taken. But news of their idea spread like wildfire and erupted into something bigger than they expected.
“We sent out word for donations on WhatsApp and Facebook, we were surprised that it became so big. [It’s overwhelming] that there are so many people that are open hearted and minded. We are grateful and glad we could do it.”
Barnard said they contacted AgriSA’s drought division to request the names of potential beneficiaries around the country – people who own farms and are struggling through the drought. They also set up collection points all over the country as more donations poured in.
AfriForum allowed their head offices in Centurion to be one of the donation points. AfriForum’s Henk Maree said the organisation was a proud participant in the CWAA’s initiative.
He said: “We think it is wonderful that so many people wanted to help. We do not have a specific number, but a rough estimate of over 10,000 boxes were sent [to the CWAA].”
International courier company Aramex South Africa offered free courier services for the donations. Aramex’s Pieter van Rensburg said the project’s impact could be “much bigger than we think”.