An emerging farmer goes out of his way to alleviate poverty in his community
Rural areas are characterised by poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunities and so forth. Poverty, among other things, is one of the greatest obstacles that rural people are battling with. This has seen young people resorting to drugs and alcohol to supress their pain and escape their realities. On the other hand, one cannot shy away from the fact that poverty, to a certain degree has given birth to high rates of crime.
The unemployment and poverty landscape of rural areas and Eastern Cape at large has compelled young people such as Dumisani Ndobeni to establish a non-profit organisation aimed at alleviating poverty of every nature. This NPO, known as Hope for The Needy was established in 2017 and later registered officially in 2019. The organisation has since grown and has now claimed to itself more than 500 members who are scattered in different towns of the Eastern Cape.
“Before, the organisation came into being, I realised that most of organisations directed at helping needy people have their roots in urban areas and this forced me to see it fitting to kick-start an organisation that would make a difference to people in rural areas”, says Ndobeni. He further states that, “It is a fact that, in rural areas there’s floods of people who live in conditions of squalor and dire poverty and have been put in the periphery by counsellors and mayors by focusing on urban areas.”
Ndobeni emphasises that, the organisation’s chief aim is to be of assistance to the needy people in every way possible. It is for this reason that the NPO has no specific area of focus when it comes to assisting. “People in rural areas are faced with a myriad of challenges, therefore, focusing on a single aspect would mean we are neglecting other people who are also in need” shares Ndobeni.
Hope for The Needy is targeting rural areas, for only one main reason, being that in rural areas, service delivery is likely to adopt the snail’s pace. However, the organisation is not confined to assisting people in rural areas but does follow suit in urban areas.
“Rural areas have been our priority due to the fact that, ward counsellors and mayors are inclined to direct their attention to urban areas where there is a great deal of people and easily reachable and thereby neglect rural areas” reveals Ndobeni.
Like any other organisation that’s still in infancy stage in terms of financial independence, Hope for the needy is not immune challenges as the organisation is still heavily dependent on donations still in ardent lacks financial independence.
“One of our greatest challenges is funding, because it is virtually impossible to help people with just a word of mouth. It is of paramount importance to ascertain that we do not abort any of the promises we make to people. However, these promises cannot materialise without money”, explains Ndobeni. He further elaborates that, “There are instances where we have to help people outside Elliot and travelling from point A to B requires money.”
Second to this, members of Hope for The Needy have had conflicts with government officials who were under the impression that the organisation is doing a job designated for them. Ndobeni says, “Ward counsellors and social development workers tend to undermine us and share views which tend to suggest that we are trying to play a role they should be playing.” He adds that, “If it happens that they agree to work with us, I have noticed that they do so with ulterior motives not necessarily to help people. However, we are not in conflict with them nor trying to play their roles, rather we are doing what they seem to be lacking to do in their respective wards.” Ndobeni assures that they are committed and willing to march on despite the challenges they have encountered so far.
In terms of funding, the NPO has not received any money from the government or prominent industries. It has, however, accumulated funds from among members through membership fees they contribute each month. “We print proposal letters and ask for donation from farmers around Elliot”, reveals Ndobeni.
Hope for The Needy is proud of the progress it has made so far. The organisation has done great things for the community of and outside Elliot since its genesis. People have benefited from the organisation according to their respective needs. Nelisiwe Kethwa who got employment through the assistance of Hope for The Needy says, “ The organisation restored my dignity after being unemployed for 5 years, I am now able to put bread on the table and my kids no longer go to bed on empty stomachs. They are able to attend school like other kids”.
Sharing similar sense of gratitude is an unemployed source who preferred to remain anonymous. “I am grateful to the organisation, I have been volunteering in an NPO (this same NPO) for three years and this pandemic has badly affected us in terms of food since I do not have a basic salary, Hope for the needy assisted my family with groceries”, she says.
Among many other things that the organisation has done, during this pandemic, handing out clothes to orphans, distributing food parcels and creation jobs have been their primary areas of focus. Some of the members of the organisation are emerging business personnel and have taken upon themselves the responsibility of creating jobs for the unemployed youth who are in possession of matric certificates.
The emergence of covid-19 pandemic has forced organisations to restructure the schedules. Nonetheless, for the Hope for The Needy, it has been business as usual. As an organisation that thrives on helping people, “I have applied for permits to allow us to travel to other provinces since our organisation is not confined only on helping Eastern Cape people but people from other provinces as well”, reveals Ndobeni.
Poverty has become a normal reality for a huge portion of Elliot people and many have felt the sharp pain inflicted by this pandemic. “Considering that here in Elliot we have a reasonable number of unemployed people who have been negatively affected by this pandemic, we have distributed over 300 food parcels to deserving people” says Ndobeni.
Adding to this, the organisation is also working tirelessly to ensure the safety of elderly people during older persons/ disability social grants pay days. “Though this is not necessarily part of our organisation’s mandate, I and few members of the organisation have been waking up around 2/3 am to patrol around banks to ensure the safety of elderly people who travel from ezilalini (rural areas) to withdraw their grants at dawn due to avoiding long queues.”
For more information about Hope for The Needy and how you can donate, you can contact Dumisani Ndobeni on: 071 708 9863/ 0736757755
By Vuyokazi Mdlungu