Those who have fallen through the cracks of government's security net are set to lose the aid of NGOs, as donations to these organisations also dry up.
A tough year for the community outreach sector and nongovernmental organisations (NGO) has spelled doom for millions of South Africans who fall through the cracks of government’s social programmes and rely on NGOs for
Nonprofit organisations (NPOs) say the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have left many cash-strapped and, regretfully, watching beneficiaries suffer along with them.
According to Themba Masango, spokesperson for #NotinMyNameSA, organisations which often reached people who government could not in marginalised communities, were faced with tougher choices, as fewer donations had left them unable to serve as many people.
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In Gauteng, healthcare facilities for addicts had taken a massive financial knock, leaving sufferers to relapse under the stress of the lockdown period, said the province’s shadow MEC for health Jack Bloom.
At the onset of the National State of Disaster, mental health organisations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), had to shut down most contact interactions, while rehabilitation facilities could no longer take in new patients, leaving thousands of addicts, such as 38-year-old sales consultant Andile Fihla (not his real name), with fewer options of where to seek help.
He was in the early stages of recovering from alcoholism when the lockdown was implemented in March, having transferred from a rehab facility to an out-patient programme with weekly meetings. The abrupt nature of the lockdown meant he was suddenly cut off from an important support system and access to free counselling.
“Even going there was difficult ecause I have not been working full-time since last year.
“So when we had to go on lockdown, I was worried that I was going to have to stop going to meetings and that was the only thing at the time that was keeping me going.
“We also had a WhatsApp group that was for supporting each other and the brotherhood of the people I met at rehab,” Fihla recalled.
Masango said: “It has been a very difficult year. Our usual well-wishers and donors have not been able to donate because of the economic downfall. People hardly have enough for themselves, let alone to give away.”
In communities such as Hammanskraal, where water is scarce, victims of gender-based violence and those struggling to eat every day were among those making daily calls of desperation to cash-strapped NGOs, which could barely help under the current climate, Masango said.
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But the end of the lockdown was too late for many facilities, which shut their doors for good, while others were left financially decimated.
According to Bloom, a lot of NGOs are in huge financial trouble, “because they are not getting the donations they did before and companies are simply not in the same position as before. So that will have had a great impact on rehab facilities and mental health facilities in general”.
Setbacks in the mental healthcare sector meant medications were also in short supply.
“It has been severe, because for those who are on medication, there have been really bad shortages and a lot of people who are on antidepressants, for example.
“At the same time the lockdown will have subjected a lot of people to mental stress, people have lost their jobs and isolation can be devastating.”
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