MEALS ON WHEELS

Wheelbarrow agents ferry food to the needy

By Shiraaz Mohamed 29 May 2020

Wheelbarrow agents about to go on their next delivery. Being a wheelbarrow agent creates an opportunity for people to earn an income from food parcel delivery. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

More than 186 wheelbarrow agents ensured recipients got their food parcels delivered to their door. Wheelbarrows are now seen as an essential service item as they play a huge role in aiding with food distribution.

Residents often find it difficult to carry heavy food parcels received at handouts. Apart from aiding with the distribution, wheelbarrows are also a way of providing some sort of financial relief for unemployed township residents.

An unidentified wheelbarrow agent waits to go on a delivery. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

“Unemployment, which is a stark reality in South Africa, has surged significantly as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a catastrophic impact on our economy,” said Nkululeko Mvulana, spokesperson for Kazang. 

Wheelbarrow agents prepare their next delivery. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Kazang, an airtime, data and electricity provider, partnered with NGO Mahlasedi Foundation to not only “wheel” a month’s supply of groceries to 10,000 households from impoverished communities but also create job opportunities with their unique wheelbarrow food delivery system.

A volunteer member of the Mahlasedi Foundation waits to load a wheelbarrow with a bag of maize meal. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Residents of the Msawawa informal settlement, Kya Sands, north of Johannesburg were recipients of the food parcels. The distribution coincided with World Hunger Day, 28 May. There were more than 186 wheelbarrow agents to ensure recipients got their food parcels delivered to their door.

Wheelbarrow agent Thabiso Malimabe goes about delivering a food parcel. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

The outreach this week was the second of its kind and follows the success of a similar wheelbarrow food delivery project three weeks ago in Olievenhoutbosch, an informal residential area between Johannesburg and Pretoria, where 30,000 families in the community benefited from food supplies.

A food parcel is opened after distribution. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

The wheelbarrow food delivery systems use locals from the community. Anyone with a wheelbarrow is welcome to register as a delivery agent. They receive R20 per delivery. An average of five to six deliveries are made per agent. 

People open up a food parcel to inspect its contents. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

“As a means to encourage social distancing, wheelbarrow agents can conveniently redeem their delivery fee from the local Kazang spaza shops which act as cash dispensing agents, reducing the need to travel to banks, ATMs and eliminating cash withdrawal fees,” said Mvulana.

Maditaba Pule (wearing a red T-shirt) walks with wheelbarrow agents as she is about to receive her food parcel. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Wheelbarrow agent Thabiso Malimabe said, “I do have a job, but since the lockdown started I was forced to stay at home. I have not had an income since then. I sometimes worry about how I will get food to put on our table. The wheelbarrow delivery system helps me to earn something.” 

Maditaba Pule and her husband Lucky Mosoatsi after receiving their food parcel. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Pregnant and a mother of two children, Maditaba Pule expressed her joy at being a recipient of a food parcel. 

“This food will help us. We will be able to eat. My husband, who works for a car wash, is sitting at home waiting to be called back. It is tough, but I praise God that at least we were given something today,” said Pule. DM

The Mahlasedi Foundation and Kazang invite South Africans to assist the wheelbarrow drive, by making a cash contribution for the purchasing of wheelbarrows to expand this outreach to other communities in need. Donations can be made at www.connected.co.za/cares

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