An initiative by two men, known for their unfaltering commitment towards fighting crime in Polokwane, to assist those in the front line against an invisible threat while the country is in lockdown is gaining momentum as donations towards the cause are rolling in. The same drive has given rise to a noble project resulting in a group of women from Nirvana giving their otherwise precious time by stitching masks for use at roadblocks.
The initiative that was jointly introduced by Mighty Tactical Reaction Service (TRS) owner Shabier Valjie and Jason Jansen van Rensburg of SPS High Risk Unit shortly after the lockdown announcement came, has thus far resulted in protective gear, sanitisers and water being dropped off at roadblocks around Polokwane twice a day for use by Police and traffic officials. According to Valjie the idea has originated from seeing how many people the officers whom they worked with closely every day came into contact with and that they wanted to ensure they were protected while rendering essential services by keeping members of the public out of harm’s way.
The initial call for assistance was posted on Facebook pages and Whatsapp platforms and since then the donations made have been dropped off twice a day, indicated Valjie.
From the onset a group of women from Nirvana has declared their commitment towards the initiative by offering to manufacture masks from the safety of their homes. As Suraiya Essa, speaking on their behalf, has put it they are stitching together the threads of humanity one mask at a time. “Amid uncertainty housewives, grannies and career women alike are giving our front line members reason to breathe out again. Countrywide shortages of medical grade masks due to stockpiling and hoarding mean that many of our officers, essential workers and people at risk are left without adequate protection. The ideal would be for all unused medical masks to be donated to hospitals and/or those caring for Covid19 patients first-hand. But this is looking more and more like a pipe dream. The shortage is real.
“To help combat this shortage and prevent it from turning into a situation that runs out of control, the community is being proactive. Sewing machines are being brought out, scraps of fabric are being transformed, and a ray of light is shining through.”
Essa referred to community support having been tremendous since the first call has gone out, with fabric, thread, elastic and scissors being donated towards the cause.
The sewn masks are collected by Mighty TRS crew members and get washed, disinfected and sterilised before being packaged and distributed at the drop-off points. The masks are sewn to specifications and required standards and those declaring themselves willing to assist would be provided with the pattern.
Valjie and Jansen van Rensburg encouraged community members from suburbs across Polokwane to follow suit by dropping off much needed supplies to the roadblocks.
Essa can be reached on 082 786 2452.
Story: Yolande Nel