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Report on Activities in South Africa

March 12, 2016

Since last conference call in 2015 we were involved in all the petitions, prayer and fast initiatives of the Global Catholic Climate Group as well continuing with our recycling projects in our various communities, schools and other outreach projects.

Winterveldt continues with the food garden project which encourages mainly women in this very rural community to grow vegetables for their families and even to sell. It is a method that is very water friendly in that it uses the minimum amount of water for the maximum output. It has been a very successful initiative over the years and hundreds of families have benefitted from it.

Seven provinces in South Africa are in the grip of the worst drought in a hundred years. On TV the other night we heard a farmer telling how he had to shoot three of his cows that were literally dying of starvation and dehydration. This is only one incident and I am sure there are many more throughout the country. The government is providing drought relief to farmers but this is not nearly enough to reach all farmers. A number of sugar mills have closed in KwaZulu-Natal area because of the drought and failing sugar cane crops. This has resulted in workers at the mills losing their jobs. Water restrictions are in place throughout most of the country which we are adhering to very strictly and continue to educate the people we work with about saving water.

An NGO, in collaboration with the Government, has set up Operation Hydrate. People, companies, corporations, multinationals, sports groups, literally all who can afford it, have been encouraged to donate 5 litres of bottled water to those who have no water. Radio Veritas, the Catholic Church Radio Station, has set up a collection point in Johannesburg and there are points in supermarkets and elsewhere. Families of the children in our schools have been asked to donate water to this operation. Our different communities have donated either money or water towards this initiative. About three weeks ago trucks left from the central water depot with 1 000 000 5 litre bottles of water which were donated by the people of South Africa. This water was taken to Northern KwaZulu-Natal Province and the Northern Cape which are the worst hit by this drought. People in rural areas literally have no water to drink.

We have encouraged our sisters to put a bucket in the shower when they take a shower. The water collected in the bucket can be used throughout the day. We will be encouraging the children in our schools to do the same and to tell their parents about the bucket-in-the-shower.

We have signed on to the fasting for ecology programme and South Africa day is the 18th of March which is also Earth Hour day.

Marilyn Browne rsm
South Africa