The COVID-19 pandemic is having a far-reaching and devastating impact on communities around the world, and governments, hospitals, clinics and healthworkers are being stretched well beyond their capacities as they strive to care for those infected with the coronavirus.
It’s in these circumstances that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a crucial supporting role in helping to contain the spread of the illness, educating and informing the general public and providing much-needed assistance to those impacted by this global health crisis.
Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has, therefore, partnered with several local NGOs to provide vehicles for their use – including during the 21-day lockdown in South Africa from 27 March to 16 April – to assist their community support and relief efforts. This includes Gift of the Givers, Laudium Disaster Management and the South African Red Cross Society.
“The people at the frontline of the containment efforts and those dealing with the sick are the true heroes of this unprecedented battle, and we commend every doctor, nurse, NGO, healthcare worker and volunteer involved in this process for their selfless commitment to ensuring the health and wellbeing of others,” says Neale Hill, MD of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.
“We are exceptionally proud to be supporting several NGOs and their teams of dedicated volunteers with vehicles prior to, during and after the lockdown period as they assist the authorities with a wide range of measures to distribute essential healthcare and food items, educate communities on the importance of hygiene, and provide crucial medical assistance,” Hill adds.
In the week preceding the national lockdown, Ford loaned three Everests to Laudium Disaster Management which, under the guidance of medical professionals, started distributing soap and hand sanitizer to communities and other NGOs, including Hospice and DeafSA, and set out to educate communities about the importance of hygiene to combat the spread of the virus. Two Ford Everests continue to be used by Laudium Disaster Management during the lockdown to distribute soap and food packs, and for officials assisting various communities.
Speaking on behalf of Laudium Disaster Management, social activist Yusuf Abramjee thanked Ford for the support saying: “Making vehicles available to us will go a long way in assisting charities in their work. Thank you Ford for the kind gesture. You are leading the way.”
Gift of the Givers is one of Africa’s largest and best-known humanitarian non-government organisations. From 16 March to 16 April, Ford is assisting the NGO with the loan of two Everests in Gauteng, a Ranger and Everest in Cape Town, and an Everest in Durban. The vehicles are being used by teams of doctors visiting communities to conduct COVID-19 tests and provide medical services.
“The Gift of the Givers Foundation is extremely grateful to Ford for its proactive response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the world to a virtual standstill,” said Dr Badr Kazi, director of Gift of the Givers. “These five vehicles allow our medical teams to deliver potential lifesaving aid timeously. Furthermore, it fosters the spirit of ubuntu when South Africans come together, roll up their sleeves and get the job done. We hope that we at Gift of the Givers, like the Ford products, are built tough for the challenges that lie ahead.”
In Port Elizabeth, Ford provided two Rangers to the South African Red Cross Society to facilitate the provision of community health services, including assisting the authorities by implementing strict health measures at food retailers, banks and other essential services that will remain operational throughout the lockdown period. Additionally, the Red Cross has prepared its offices for use as an emergency quarantine facility, and the teams are also involved with contact tracing for reported cases of coronavirus.
“This is an amazing gesture, and is highly appreciated,” says Coralie Peo-Swartz, South African Red Cross Society branch manager for Port Elizabeth. “The loan vehicles from Ford will enable us to work more efficiently as we don’t have a vehicle in Port Elizabeth at this time.”