The dreaded COVID-19 has left many reeling and destitute. Scores of people are unemployed and have no idea where their next meal will come from, and many underprivileged people can agree that their greatest threat is starvation more so than COVID-19.
In the bid to help those in need is Dylan Hadzigrigoriou, who is only 22 years old. Dylan has had a privileged life he acknowledges; living in Hout Bay, attending an elite high school, South African College High School (SACS) and then going onto study at UCT (BCom in Charted Accounting).
With his privilege, Dylan has stepped up and taken the reins to help those who find themselves without food. Dylan along with his friends and co-founders, Alistair Snowdon and Jordan Fourie, started the feeding scheme project, Sarmy Army, and is based in the Retreat and Cafda areas in the southern suburbs.
The feeding scheme started out with Alistair making peanut butter sandwiches for Shandre Simpson, somewhat of a community leader in Cafda, and later Dylan joined. Despite the sandwiches being made, there was a greater need for food as more people came.
With the help of social media, Dylan reached out to his followers on Instagram to help with funding the project. Around six people reached out and from there a WhatsApp group was created.
Dylan, Alistair and Jordan then started supporting another feeding station at the other end of the Cafda community, and here too, people came.
“Times were getting tough and more people were coming so we started another.”
Keeping up a feeding scheme is no easy task and comes with challenges like not getting enough donations, but Dylan hopes that the project can run for the foreseeable future.
“Hope the project can run for as long as it can and definitely would like to expand it, hopefully. I want it to get to a point where it’s not just us helping the community but building the community up so that they can be strong leaders within the community.”
Dylan emphasises with the help and support of the feeding scheme it in turn can, “Help build the community, and not get people out of the community, but rather let them empower their own community.”
During the pandemic people have been strapped for cash like never before and therefore loads of people have been turning to the feeding scheme. People of the Cafda community don’t have to worry where their next meal will come from and they would have some extra money to spend on their additional household costs.
The feeding scheme started out with simple peanut butter sandwiches and it has grown into to fully-fledged meals, three meals a day and maybe even a little extra for the kids. Dylan and Alistair also take the time to interact with the kids and play some rugby with them if there’s time to spare.
Dylan expressed that he can see the relief on parents’ faces when they know that their child has been fed. “The most rewarding part is relieving some stress and creating a bit of smiles in these really tough times.”
Dylan adds, “If this thing (pandemic) taught me one thing, is that in the privileged life that I lead and those around me that are very privileged, it’s very easy for us to give and to find community leaders like Shandre and Aunty Ursie (volunteer) and Lucinda (donates) who also helps feed this community.”
Since the feeding scheme is not funded at all, it survives solely on donations and is only currently running for the needs of the Cafda community. If you’d like to donate or volunteer for Sarmy Army then please contact Dylan on WhatsApp on 063 771 8098 and visit the Sarmy Army Instagram page.
Dylan’s words of advice in this trying time: “Keep your head up. Look for leaders in your community, if there are none become one and don’t be afraid to ask.”
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Tell us: Do you know of any feeding project’s in your community? If not would you start one?