Making a difference in Naruna Estate

Yvonne Maddock, Karen Saligee, Beverley Strong and Wilma Fourie.

A tenant at Naruna Estate in Plumstead started feeding her neighbours soup and sandwiches after seeing they were struggling to make ends meet due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The block of flats on Combe Road is owned by the provincial Department of Human Settlements.

Beverley Strong, the deputy chairwoman of the Naruna Estate Resident’s Association (NERA), started feeding her fellow tenants, most of them poor and elderly, and others in the area who have taken a beating from lockdown.

Ms Strong got donations of vegetables and bread from neighbours; fellow tenant, Yvonne Maddock peels the vegetables and Ms Strong’s husband washes the dishes.

Ms Strong serves about 150 people each Sunday or Saturday, weather permitting, from the gate of the complex or at the nearby Churchill Road Park.

Some of the homeless, like “Uncle Charlie”, who everyone knew in the area, had been living on Victoria Road for more than 25 years, she said.

“I want to thank everyone who has helped. The one week we put some money together and were able to get chicken so we could serve briyani. We’re not fussy, we’re just trying to give them anything that we can, anything to help because these people haven’t received any food parcels.

“Life is a precious commodity, and we’re trying to help contribute towards a hungry stomach and extend some generosity.”

Wilma Fourie, one of Naruna’s tenants, told the Bulletin she hadn’t eaten in four days.

“If it wasn’t for the soup and bread I don’t know what I would have done. My son used to work for the City; he was in the lights department, he used to take care of me. He died last year.”

A tearful Ms Fourie said food prices had shot up during lockdown and she couldn’t make ends meet.

“I only have pension, nothing else, I’m just grateful that I at least have a roof over my head.”

Karen Saligee, chairwoman of Naruna Estate Residents’ Association, said many seniors were now supporting younger family members who had lost their jobs during the lockdown.

“There’s a huge generational income gap right now because these pensioners don’t have a lot, and would usually get help from family members.

“But now with so many of the younger people losing their jobs, the weight is falling on the elders to be the breadwinners with the little pension they’re getting.”

Ms Saligee urged the Plumstead community to donate any non-perishable foods, fruits and vegetables, bread and peanut butter to help the complex’s vulnerable residents.

“I’d also like the businesses around us to support us because we’ve been giving to them for many years; it’s time for them to support us too now”

Ms Strong said: “We need help now. These people are hungry now.

“If you can donate just one or two tins from your groceries, that’s something.”

Ms Strong is also looking for a big pot that she can make a lot of soup in.

To help, contact Ms Strong
at 074 341 8252 or drop off donations at 33 Combe Road, Plumstead.