UKZN staff and students, through Community Engagement sectors in the College of Humanities, recently assisted communities that were affected by the recent KwaZulu-Natal floods which left hundreds of people dead, and thousands displaced.
Different initiatives throughout the College were undertaken. Cluster leader in the School of Social Sciences, Dr Maserole Kgari-Masondo, collected food and clothing donations for local schools with help from Dr Siyanda Kheswa from the School’s Community Engagement task team and six student volunteers Mr Ntokozo Vundla, Ms Dintle Masondo, Ms Xolani Masuku, Ms Xolile Ndimande, Ms Nazra Tinambo, and Ms Hloniphile Ndlovu, while Professor Lauren Dyll in the School of Applied Human Sciences donated food and clothing to local communities.
School of Education staff members Professor Vaughn John, Dr Zamo Hlela and Mr Pete Jugmohan also collected donations from five Pietermaritzburg school communities, Allandale Primary, Deccan Road Primary, Springhaven Primary School, St Christopher’s School and Northern Park Primary.
Academic Leader for Community Engagement in the School of Education, Dr Angela James, together with staff volunteers Mr Wandile Zulu, Ms Rossly Malema, and student volunteers Ms Asanda Mbasha, Ms Luyanda Khawula, Ms Sxolile Mtshali, Ms Nontando Sibisi, Ms Miloka Maharaj, Ms Nondzolo Mfino Ms Zoe Thomas, Ms Nomali Mchunu, and Ms Qokomisa Nolonwabo collected donations from students and community members and helped offload, sort and deliver the donations.
The donations included children’s and adult’s clothes, shoes (including school shoes), school uniforms, bags, toiletries, non-perishable goods, water, goodies/children’s toys, as well as baby food and nappies.
Guided by information from the eThekwini Municipality regarding community needs, the donations were delivered to seven community centres such as Dassenhoek, Mariannhill, Sithundu Hill, Ndunduma, Snethemba, Umhlabunzima, KwaShembe, Itshelinyama, and KwaDabeka. Area-based Management Municipality assisted with transport.
The initiative aided people who lost their homes, did not have food, clothing, sanitary towels or toiletries, and learners who were unable to go to school because they did not have stationery and uniforms.
Mtshali said: ‘The living conditions of people in these centres is unpleasant. There were 92 people in one hall and the roads to access these centres were badly damaged. People did not have enough water – some centres had empty water tanks and there were toddlers and babies who did not have nappies and necessities.’
Reflecting on the initiative, James said: ‘The immense effort of our student volunteers is impressive and appreciated. Student engagement is purposeful and worthwhile. Actions are important. In the words of Ms Luyanda Khawula who is a student: “People are going through the most out there … we should all work together to assist where we can”.’