Tuesday | 14 April | 2020
We are still trying to make sense of the corona crisis. The rhythm of the world has been shaken globally, and at a micro local level the rhythm of families has been shaken.
Lockdown in South Africa has been extended and it is clear that after the strict lockdown we will still have to live and work in some form of lockdown.
However, many remarkable things have happened lately.
I wish to share three events within the larger Solidarity Movement that I see as monuments of hope amid a crisis.
All three testify to the resilience of the community. All three of those events were made possible by the community. All three of them bring hope for a future during and after corona.
The first is the opening of Akademia’s academic term during the lockdown period with classes starting for almost 1 400 students. Since its inception Akademia has only used the latest technology. Specific video technology has now also been used for education purposes for the first time. With some adjustment this has enabled Akademia to put its students in a position where they could start their term. Lockdown did not restrict them.
Paul Maritz, a student at Akademia, described it as follows on Twitter:
Laat my net toe om dankbaarheid uit te spreek teenoor @OnsAkademia – ek sit in redelik ernstige inperking, maar danksy Die Spens, die studenteplatform, gaan alles letterlik soos normaal aan.
Dis darem lekker. Dis darem eerstewêrelds.
Please allow me to express my gratitude to @OnsAkademia – I am in rather a severe lockdown but thanks to Die Spens – the student platform – everything continues as usual, literally so.
Now that is great. That is first world.
Wolkskool is the second event. Several years ago, we started to develop Wolkskool. I still remember how Dr Danie Brink outlined it for my on his whiteboard. I didn’t grasp it all but said it looked impressive to me.
Amid this crisis more than 75 000 learners registered with Wolkskool. China built hospitals within days but Wolkskool developed the ability to offer a matric school within a matter of days and thousands of matrics are now going to class every day.
At the moment people are working through the night to come up with further developments to help children go to school.
Akademia and Wolkskool are institutions that have been established thanks to all the little bits given by ordinary people. Every month, Solidarity members donate R10 of their membership fees to help build these institutions. Thousands of others contribute to the Solidarity Building Fund and thousands help the building effort through their Virseker policies. Those projects are major helpmekaar projects, in other words projects that are the result of a community standing together to help each other.
Both were established by using technology that was not available until recently. Without the teams knowing it, they developed education institutions that would offer an answer amid a pandemic no one even knew would exist one day.
The last monument was also built by the community. The Solidarity Movement’s crisis fund exceeded everyone’s expectation and almost R5 million was raised within days. This was achieved thanks to ordinary people who made their contribution in the form of small amounts. The crisis has revealed people’s hearts. It is in people’s DNA to help each other.
Three Solidarity monuments amid a crisis – achieved thanks to Solidarity’s thousands of members, supporters and the community. In such a global crisis we see the power of a local community. The community can respond quickly from within itself and for itself.
Thank you to every Solidarity member. You are making everything possible.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.