Image via: OtteryCAN / Facebook
Image via: OtteryCAN / Facebook
A domestic worker by the name of Lauren Juries and her employer Tracy Gander are, together, the Ottery Community Action Network, otherwise known as OtteryCAN. The pair, along with partners, are doing their bit to cushion the community from the effects of COVID-19 and the lockdown by distributing food parcels, electricity and vouchers.
Gander and Juries’ main aim is to deliver care packages, providing a family of four with everything they need to get through the lockdown.
Although the country is now under Level 3 and most businesses have started to reopen, many are still battling the effects of a standstill society that was essentially dormant for two months. As Gander put it; “the lockdown has pushed people living on the breadline into poverty.”
The duo’s “Lockdown Box” includes basic groceries, fruit and vegetables, meat and electricity. According to their website, families received 148 food parcels, R60 000 has been raised and 40 000 people were served a meal in the last six weeks.
OtteryCAN is part of the Cape Town Together (CTT) community, a broad collective of people from across the city coming together to take local action.
“CTT suggested that we start the OtteryCAN! to cover that specific area,” said Gander.
“I guess we’ll be around for as long as we’re needed. Many of the CAN’s have started the most wonderful initiatives [like] community gardens. As it’s just the two of us, I’ve tried to stay focused on what we originally set out to do, provide food during the crisis,” said Gander.
“To this end, we ask people to sponsor food parcels, prepaid electricity, or Shoprite vouchers. In addition, we’ve partnered with local soup kitchens in the area and Lauren started her own soup kitchen, Lolla’s Kitchen. This way we can stretch resources to reach more people in the worst of the crisis,” added Gander.
Home to over 12 000 South Africans and neighbour to Cape Town’s southern suburbs, the OtteryCAN website says isolation is near-impossible, with 4 to 12 people sharing a flat sometimes.
“The impact of lockdown on the people who live here is crippling. They have a roof over their heads but no money to buy food and amenities. This is a community struggling for survival,” their website reads.
Ottery is Juries’ home. Juries, her husband and two boys live with her parents, as well as her sister and nephew.
“Both my mom and I work part-time as domestic workers for families in the southern suburbs,” she said.
Once the lockdown started, Juries said she noticed children on the street asking for money to buy food.
“Over the days, the effect of lockdown on my neighbours and friends has become more obvious. People are struggling to get to the next day without food. They can’t even go out and ask people for help,” she said.
“It’s not uncommon to find a family of 13 people living under one roof. Children are not doing schoolwork; they’re not staying indoors. For starters, there are too many in a small space and there’s not enough for them to do. They’re bored. And hungry,” said Juries.
Gander said Juries approached her at the start of lockdown, heartbroken by what she witnessed in her neighbourhood.
“I was fortunate to be in a position to dive into her cause! I’m one of the lucky ones – my family has power, running water and fibre Internet. As the Presidential says, we need to pay it forward and look after our fellow South Africans,” said Gander.
Wondering how you can contribute? Your options are vast. You can buy a family care package from YeboFresh from R400. You can sponsor a pot of food from R250, you can buy a Shoprite voucher for groceries from R250 or you can power up a household with prepaid electricity from R250.
Click here to contribute to any of the four options.
OtteryCAN has also launched a competition partnered with Co-owner and Chef Patron of The Goose Roasters Craig Cormack. A member of the South African Chefs Association, and Vice Conseiller Culinaire for the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Bailliage du Cap, Cormack has been in the restaurant industry for the past 30 years.
OtteryCAN together with Cormack is offering a unique fine dining experience valued at R8 000. The winner gets to invite six to eight friends and family to enjoy a four-course meal in the comfort of their own home.
To enter, buy a food parcel online for R800 from YeboFresh which OtteryCAN will then distribute to families in need. One food parcel equals one competition entry ticket.