08 July 2021
Homelessness is a desperate situation, regardless of the season, but being exposed to the elements as the icy chill of a South African winter begins to bite is especially harrowing.
Ensuring some of the country's most vulnerable people are better able to ward off the cold this winter, Al Baraka Bank has launched its annual blanket drive, partnering with NGO's in three major centres, to distribute almost 1 600 blankets to the under-privileged and needy.
Al Baraka Bank's Regulatory Executive, Mr Ebrahim Hassan, commented: "As the weather becomes colder across the country, and especially in up-country regions, we don warm clothing, get out the heaters and put extra blankets on our beds, but so many of our fellow countrymen know no such luxury. Rampant poverty has created in this country a massive homeless community, reliant on scarce aid resources to survive. For them the bitter cold of winter is a particularly trying time in their lives as they battle just to keep warm."
"As a responsible corporate citizen, the bank believes it has a moral obligation to assist in addressing challenges faced by the homeless in winter. Our Winter Warmth blanket drive is designed - in a small way - to support the destitute and is undertaken in the knowledge that many other like-minded organisations also mobilise blanket provision initiatives at this time of year," Mr Hassan said.
"Extreme poverty in South Africa is a very real problem and one which sees increasing numbers of people living on the streets. We regard our intervention now as being the correct thing to do from a humanitarian standpoint, but recognise that many more lives than we can touch will remain out in the cold this winter. However, we are pleased to be in the position to impact some of those living rough this winter," he added.
In Durban, Al Baraka Bank - working in conjunction with the Darul Ihsan Humanitarian Centre - ensured the provision of some 500 blankets to needy people.
A total of 120 blankets went to people attending Woodhurst Clinic in Chatsworth, with a further 150 going to disadvantaged patients of East Clinic. An additional 230 were distributed to the destitute in the Bernard/Johana Roads informal settlement.
In Johannesburg, bank-sponsored blankets were distributed by the Roshnee Feeding Scheme to disadvantaged recipients in Roshnee-based informal settlements, while the Saabiree Chishty Foundation took responsibility for blanket distribution to 400 Orange Farm beneficiaries.
A further 400 blankets provided by the bank were distributed by the Fusion Inyameko Foundation to under-privileged people in Hanover Park, Steenberg, Retreat, Phillipi, Mfuleni and Manenberg, in Cape Town.
"We are particularly grateful to our partners in this year's Winter Warmth blanket drive, for their assistance in identifying the most vulnerable and ensuring that they received warm blankets, so helping them ward off the chill of winter. Whilst so many of us are able to take warmth in winter for granted, we should not ignore those who lack the ability to fend for themselves, but instead reach out a helping hand to make the lives of others a little better," said Mr Hassan.