Fund brings relief during Ramadaan

A South African National Zakah Fund volunteer packs some of the thousands of hampers that were distributed.

The work of the South African National Zakah Fund (Sanzaf) is busiest during the month of Ramadaan and Eid, and with the devastating economic effects of the national lockdown, the organisation’s work has become even more challenging.

Shafiek Barendse, Sanzaf’s Western Cape regional manager, said people had collected hampers at one of the organisation’s 14 offices in the past, but that wasn’t possible now.

“We had to work from one base, and we had to restrict our volunteers to 30 people.

“We did not want to involve too many volunteers. Those in need had to phone us, and we would deliver it to them,” Mr Barendse said.

To date, the Western Cape region has distributed 18 200 hampers in response to Covid-19 operations, 20 000 fitrah parcels, and 10 900 hampers during Ramadaan. Fitrah is an obligatory charity paid by all Muslims who can afford it so no Muslim goes hungry on Eid.

Other religious groups helped Sanzaf with distribution.

The work will continue after Eid to meet a growing need.

“We started campaigning again for assistance. There are a lot of small businesses who supported us, and with lockdown and them not being able to work, they cannot help us any more.

“They were self-sufficient and now they have to rely on us,” Mr Barendse said.

Sanzaf CEO Yasmina Francke said they still had a huge task ahead of them.

“Not only do we have to think about the immediate needs of the poor and working-class citizens, who are hard hit by this crisis, but we must also prepare for an even bigger task of rebuilding our country.

A post-virus reality will require an even greater sense of shared purpose. The resolve of our nation will be tested further and only if we are deliberate about positively impacting the lives of the poor and needy, will we succeed.”

She said Covid-19 recognised no nationality, no class or wealth boundaries.

“We have to stay in touch with what is happening right now, all around us,” she said.