Rotary donations a big help for organisations hit by downturn

HELPING HAND: From left, EL SPCA general manager Sonja Slabbert, Rotary Club of Arcadia president David Briggs and Masithethe Counselling Services director Jackie Orsmond
Picture: MATTHEW FIELD

There was much excitement at the Comrades Bowling Club on Monday when the Rotary Club of Arcadia met to hand over donations to both the East London SPCA and Masithethe Counselling Services.

“What happened was the Community Service Committee put together a delightful plan, which was backed by [Rotary member] Peter Burmeister, and that was to ask the public to donate their change to a good cause,” said Rotary president David Briggs.

“Whatever the public put in, Peter agreed to contribute and we decided that we would round this up by a couple of thousand rand from [Rotary Club of] Arcadia.”

Thanking Rotary for their generosity, EL SPCA general manager Sonja Slabbert said the organisation had been negatively affected by the pandemic.

“Covid-19 hit us really hard but during the pandemic, we hadn’t realised it as such.

“Now we see businesses aren’t recovering, people are losing their jobs and running out of money, and now we’re seeing an influx of animals,” she said.

Put simply, they were running out of space to house their animals.

However, Slabbert said the donation from Rotary would be a great help for the SPCA.

“We are currently rebuilding our catteries, which gives them an extra month or two to find a home,” she said.

Masithethe director Jackie Orsmond said that Covid-19 had had a noticeable affect on ordinary people.

“During the lockdown, we were inundated with calls, mostly gender-based violence (GBV), depression and suicide,” she said.

Orsmond said that Masithethe counselled, on average, between 500 and 600 people each month and of these, an estimated 65% were victims of GBV.

The problem had only been made worse due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We find that people living in small spaces with all of that – being poor, not having food, losing their jobs – it’s making men more violent.

“When you have a problem, you lash out,” she said.

Orsmond also cited the lack of traditional support structures as playing a role in the increased rates of depression and violence.

“If you look at the way we live now, before we always had a family structure. These days, the family is very small,” she said.

This was not helped by the increased role the internet played in people’s lives.

“People are scared to go out so they turn to the internet, and that makes your world even smaller,” said Orsmond.

She said one of the biggest problems Masithethe was currently facing was a shortage of staff, but said Rotary’s donation would help them a lot.

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