The Western Cape towns of Paarl and Wellington are providing shelter and food to the homeless, elderly, and vulnerable children during the difficult lockdown period.

In the winelands of the Western Cape, agritourism was a source of income for many, said CEO of the Drakenstein Local Tourism Association, Annelize Stroebel. Now, without tourism in the area and many of the wine farms idle due to the lockdown, the Drakenstein communities have come together to help those affected.

Paarl and Wellington have felt the impact of COVID-19 since the beginning of March when the ABSA Cape Epic cycle race was cancelled. Now, in the thick of the lockdown, several non-profit organisations have stepped up to offer relief to the struggling communities.

“We have been humbled by the compassion and contributions made throughout our region and would sincerely like to thank all involved. The crisis is, however, not yet over and we urge communities to continue with their support,” said Stroebel.

These organisations include HEART, which provides meals for 200 registered children and elderly people, and is currently backing one of the area’s many soup kitchens – helping them double the amount of people served.

Also getting involved is Ma’s vir Wellington (Mom’s for Wellington) – a programme that usually offers day-care facilities in the economically disadvantaged community of Wellington. They have launched an initiative to donate shopping vouchers to their beneficiaries to the value of R350, which can be redeemed at designated shops for selected food items.

“Our municipality has been fantastic,” said Stroebel of the support received from the Drakenstein municipality, which implemented soup kitchens as well as donation and distribution networks providing food and basic necessities to those in need.

The municipality has also set up temporary shelters for the homeless in some of the towns’ municipal buildings. Shelter residents are provided with daily meals, soap and water, and access to medical care should it be necessary.

Stroebel told Tourism Update that she has been particularly touched by the generosity of the area’s wineries, who she knows are struggling through this time themselves.