Joanie Fredericks and her Change Champions prepare and serve up to 10 000 meals a day in response to the coronavirus lockdown.
Joanie Fredericks and her Change Champions prepare and serve up to 10 000 meals a day in response to the coronavirus lockdown.

The community activist taking on the president

By IOL Time of article published Aug 9, 2020

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Joanie Fredericks is one of the nominees in our Women’s Month #SheIsMyRock campaign. Read more about her:

Joanie Fredericks has been involved with community upliftment for many years, but now heads up the Community Action Network (CAN) in Tafelsig, Cape Town.

The food hub has been providing up to 10 000 meals a day at 25 different locations in response to the coronavirus lockdown which has led to joblessness and hunger.

On the eve of lockdown, Fredericks realised it would have a huge impact on residents already in dire need, and so she sprung into action and got her hands on food stock that was now unable to be moved, and distributed dozens of hampers before the stroke of midnight.

“It was a race against time, but I did what I do best, I spoke to people, called on community leaders to give us details of the most vulnerable, the sick and infirm.

“Anyone I knew who had a bakkie was commandeered to deliver hampers to feed thousands of people,” she said.

Fredericks and her Change Champions who prepare and serve the meals pride themselves on dishing up nourishing meals that are almost “gourmet”.

“If you’re not willing to eat it yourselves, then it is not good enough for our community,” she said.

She is worried things will get worse over time, but she is confident in human kindness emerging victorious over the pandemic.

"Covid-19 has completely opened the hearts of people who were already doing acts of kindness.

“We are not going to let Covid-19 win, we will continue to create new ways to do old things, because we are all in this together, and we will step out together on the other side of Covid-19,” she said.

Following her own video message to President Cyril Ramaphosa which went viral a few months ago, Fredericks is also one of organisers behind the Dear Mr President Video Project.

This series of videos tells the collective stories of desperate communities across the country in an attempt to get the attention of the president.

The videos will be personally delivered by Fredericks and comedian Marc Lottering next week.

Fredericks said the number of people who used food kitchens as their primary source of food had increased tenfold as thousands of people lost their jobs, businesses, and all forms of income because of the lockdown.

“Those who traditionally took care of their families are not able to any longer. As a result, whole families are now dependent on support from food kitchens. The reality is that sponsors are no longer able to help and we are battling to feed our communities. The crisis is deepening, and without real intervention it could become a catastrophe,” she said.

Fredericks called on sponsors, donors and other provinces to join the call. She said soup kitchens had potential solutions to the deepening crisis, and their voices must be heard.

* This Women’s Month, IOL in collaboration with the African News Agency, are calling on our readers, corporate partners and staff to nominate a woman who embodies the spirit of the women who took part in the 1956 march on the Union Buildings, by empowering and uplifting her community, fellow women or industry.

The #SheIsMyRock nominee will be featured on IOL and you could stand a chance of winning an awesome gift for her thanks to our sponsors Dove, JC le Roux and Sorbet.

To enter, email us at [email protected] or Whatsapp to 0745573535, include a picture of the inspirational woman in your life and tell us why she is your rock. Text, audio and video entries will be accepted.

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