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Community pulls together to convert crèche in Ocean Vi...

Maverick Citizen

MAVERICK CITIZEN

Community pulls together to convert crèche in Ocean View into a Covid-19 isolation centre

Volunteer Ricochet van Rensburg, right, spearheaded the Community Care Centre initiative. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Neighbours in Ocean View in Cape Town have pulled together to convert a crèche into a Community Care Centre for those tested positive for Covid-19.

Volunteers under the auspices of 24-year-old Ricochet van Rensburg and Dr Leanne Brady witnessed the proud moment when the centre opened its doors in Callisto Way on Tuesday, 7 July.

The top floor of a private house has been beautifully converted into two rooms each with five beds and a bathroom. The crèche is owned by Ramona Lamb and the new Community Care Centre (CCC) was fitted out entirely with donations.

Three weeks ago Lamb made the decision to utilise her crèche to help Van Rensburg realise his dream of setting up the centre. All personal protected equipment needed for the first month have been donated by Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Health MEC, Nomafrench Mbombo, was unable to attend the opening and the department was represented by Dr Douglas Newman-Valentine

Seeing the project to fruition was no easy road and Van Rensburg said the process, from getting this initiative off the ground, engaging with various residents taken several months.

“It wasn’t easy. There were times when we felt like, do we have to go on with this because no one wanted to help? We pushed each other on, persevered, got donations and here we are now,” said Van Rensburg.

A team of ten volunteers were in place to look after people who needed to go into isolation.

“I’m ecstatic in what we have achieved. We are also putting out the need for more volunteers as the space increases,” he said.

Speaking of the initiative, Lamb said that the decision had not been a hard one to make.

“There are a lot of people in our community who live in one-bedroomed flats and up 10 people in one flat. Unfortunately, if anyone contracts the virus they aren’t able to go quarantine at their own home,” said Lamb.

The CCC was an alternative for people who could not quarantine at home.

“We live in a community where everyone is not privileged to have space to help those in need. We don’t need billionaires. We just need people who care and that is what we are trying to do. We try to build a community of like-minded individuals so that we can inspire others to do more,” Lamb said.

Her next bigger challenge is to get youth more involved because residents of Ocean View are traumatised by gangsterism and violence. Dodging bullets has become a norm and the only way to change this was to inspire others to do something good, she added.

Brady explained that the Ocean View CCC emanated from the Community Action Network (CAN) initiative. Brady and Van Rensburg are part of the Health CAN which works with different CAN operatives in the city to set up Community Care Centres.

The Ocean View CAN will provide food for patients in isolation in the CCC, but the initiative needs broader support.

According to Brady, the Ocean View CCC was a first.

“We are a group of people working across the city recognising that even though 85% of people who get Covid-19 don’t need hospitals, they still need care.

“We have also seen that many people don’t want to leave their neighbourhoods to isolate and quarantine. So myself and Ricochet and a bunch of others have been working on a CCC project for the past four months.”

She lauded Lamb for making her house available to care for her neighbours during the pandemic. Brady also singled out Van Rensburg and his dedicated team for pulling off “such a great community-driven initiative.”

“What’s important, this is Ocean View people doing an incredibly important thing for people living in Ocean View, but has also been connecting with other CANs across the city. We are all in this together,” said Brady.

Hospitals are not the only remedy and Community Care Centres provided an alternative in-situ.

The Ocean View CAN will provide food for patients in isolation in the CCC, but the initiative needs broader support.

Brady emphasised it was important that these initiatives be community-driven, as every community was different and best-placed to know what is needed in a specific neighbourhood.

“CANs are community action networks and they are self-organising groups across the city who are mobilising and responding to Covid-19 from the community level. This is not an organisational thing. This is about radical collaboration of groups working together,” she added.

Dr Douglas Newman-Valentine from the Department of Health, making apologies for Mbombo not attending, said the Ocean View CCC was proof that communities could come together and help each other.

“In the Covid pandemic we have to think differently and think more innovatively on how we do things and getting people in the communities taking care of people in communities,” said Newman-Valentine 

He added that authorities needed to look beyond the pandemic in terms of health care.

“How we are going to get all our other health services up and running? For with whatever we have, we need to start off tested and see how the model works and then we continue. Definitely we need to have collaboration. That is key.” DM

Gallery

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