Operation Winter Warmth benefits needy and vulnerable families in Cookhouse

AUGUST 4, 2014
From left to right, Blue Crane Route Local Municipality Mayor, Majorie Scott; Head of Eastern Cape Department of Social Development and Special Programmes, Bea Hackula; Nwely appointed MEC for Social Development and Special Programmes Nancy Sihlwayi and SASSA Cacadu District Manager, Thozamile Toyiya, with some of the recipients of the blankets.

The Eastern Cape Department of Social Development and Special Programmes, in partnership with the Al-Imdaad Foundation and the Cacadu District Municipality, recently brought the annual

Operation Winter Warmth Campaign to Cookhouse, in the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality.

Operation Winter Warmth aims to assist poor and underprivileged communities to keep warm in winter by providing them with quality blankets, gloves and hats. At the event that was held at Madiba Hall on the 12th of June, 150 blankets were handed over to underprivileged Cookhouse

Speaking at the handover, newlyappointed MEC for Social Development and Special Programmes, Nancy Sihlwayi, said that one of government’s priorities was to deliver comprehensive social security.

 “So when Al-Imdaad, a non-governmental organisation, asked government if they can partner in their humanitarian programmes, the Department of Social

Development was identified as the right channel through which to do this,” said the MEC.

“The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), which falls under the Department of Social Development, agreed with Al-Imdaad to visit the area and to distribute blankets to these households. We thank them.”

At the event, MEC Sihlwayi also highlighted the importance of developing the youth as future leaders.

“What government is trying to do is to harness the strength in young people and use it for their future benefit. The young people must understand that government is serious about their lives,” she said.

She urged young people to adopt the mentality of Nelson Mandela and be focused on their development rather than wasting away their lives through alcohol abuse or by involving themselves in behaviour that could lead to them contracting HIV.

“The programme for Youth month says built your strength further to be future leaders. Take that with pride,” said the MEC.

She said that government was also focused on having the elderly participate in its programmes and appealed to communities to protest peacefully without destroying public infrastructure, such as clinics and libraries, which they will need for social development.

Speaking to Cacadu News, Head of Eastern Cape Department of Social Development and Special Programmes, Bea Hackula, said that the winter warmer initiative started last year in the entire Eastern Cape Province.

“This programme is not only confined to handing out blankets, we are also taking care of young children and providing them with warm hats and scarfs for when they go to school in the chilly mornings – no child should stop going to school because they do not have warm clothing,” she added.

At the same event, SASSA also handed out food parcels to 26 underprivileged Cookhouse families.

Marie September, a local resident who received a blanket, said it was a welcome gift, which would keep her warm this winter.

“I am also so grateful for this blanket,” said an excited Piet Jacobs, “I hope it will last me long enough. I did not have a blanket and was always cold during the nights.”

Hackula said that the handovers were not meant to create a sense of dependence among communities; hence, her department was also bringing several programmes, such as skills development, aimed at enabling people to help themselves.

“I noticed that this area is predominantly a farming region so we will be coming back and starting food gardens so that families can feed themselves and we will be rolling out skills programmes. We need to stabilize people before we can develop them,” she said