Too white for welfare?


The social circles are buzzing, people get upset and others just get discouraged. There is a buzz about race again.

Being part of a social organization is already a huge challenge in itself – not only in terms of financing, but also personally.

As someone who works in a social organization myself, I know: I am here for my vocation. I am here to help. Thank goodness we at Solidarity Helping Hand are not at all dependent on the state and its money. No, we will ourselves.

But despite this independence in which there is an awful lot of strength, the work we do sometimes has a huge effect on my mental state. It is not always easy – you see sadness, hardship and poverty. And when poverty knocks so hard on the doors of each of our children’s homes, homes for the elderly and homes for people with disabilities, you don’t see color. You’re just trying to help, you just want to help.

I have already mentioned that at Solidarity Helping Hand we work independently of the state and its money, but the state has a duty to help other social institutions that are still dependent on it.

In the Solidarity Movement we have a way of thinking that is ingrained in our hearts – the concept of “we will ourselves”. We will raise funds ourselves and we will create alternative revenue models ourselves.

“Organizations with a board that is 100% white; beneficiaries who are 100% white… some of us even find the name of (some of) the organizations offensive because it is a name that promotes the legacy of apartheid. And they want the state to finance them…”

This is what Bongani Ngomane, acting head of department of the Gauteng Department of Social Development, said on Monday in Johannesburg during a meeting with representatives of various welfare organizations in the province.

The source who provided part of the recording did not want to be disclosed for fear of victimization.

No, Mr. Bongani, we are only called to help without conditions, unlike you with your conditions of race. We do not want to promote the legacy of apartheid. We do not long for the past at all, but we do not look forward to a future under the ANC and racial madness.

These statements speak volumes about the management and nature of Bongani Ngomane – the person who is supposed to be the head of department of the Gauteng Department of Social Development. I don’t know about him, but at the helm of our social institution is Hannes Noëth. Here we are not afraid of victimization, here open conversations take place about how we can help, not conversations about brick walls painted white or black.

When I think of someone who should be at the helm of a department of social development, I definitely do not think of someone who is supposed to victimize others. Thank goodness, I’m not in that department, but in an organization that can do without that department.

As RNews points out in its article, this crisis has been raging for months. We as an institution have long been engaged in discussions about this together with Solidarity’s social worker network. That is why we stand strongly behind this network and support their position that we are also concerned about how the withholding of money on the basis of skin color can especially affect orphans and vulnerable people.

Nor will we remain silent while race is once again used as a political tool to promote an ideology – especially not when the government claims in the same breath that it is a democratic, non-racial government.

At Solidarity Helping Hand we work carefully with our people, time and money. We also work within a strong structure that not only makes our staff feel safe, but also the community we serve, the donors and volunteers who offer their money and time for us. Time, people and money are handled transparently and carefully within the raison d’être of Solidarity Helping Hand.

The department, on the other hand, fails to pay on time and there is a clear lack of communication about the state of affairs. So time, people and money are not handled transparently. This again creates a crisis, confusion and finally the buzz we have already referred to.

It is sad to hear that organizations created to help the most vulnerable of our people have already had to close their doors because they have not been paid. What makes it even worse is that the racial card is played again and these dedicated and vocation-driven organizations are hampered in being able to really help. On the other hand, it once again puts even more pressure on an organization like Solidarity Helping Hand to fill these gaps.

You read about an orphanage that has been a safe haven for children for more than 105 years – there is history between these walls, here are the hearts of rescued children. And now they are closing the doors. Doors are locked, children are sent away and our government sits back while corrupt government officials flush billions down the drain or applaud mismanagement.

One thing that my head will probably never understand is how our government sings the national anthem and thereby testifies that we all have a place in the country. Then they turn around and say that you may be too white for welfare. Playing this card against children, the elderly, people with disabilities…

Then again the question is whether you really belong in the department of social development if your heart is not even in your cause? And quite clearly race remains the only thing they can see, not social workers, welfare or children, only skin color.

I agree with Helgard Cronjé, deputy general secretary of the public industry at Solidarity: “It is time for organizations to realize that the state is no longer their friend for a long time. They simply cannot depend solely on the state anymore and will soon have to start making plans themselves for alternative financing. This is a crisis that has had a long run-up, but it is now time to make the social sector more independent and, in the longer term, to detach from the state.”

At Solidarity Helping Hand, we believe in work rather than welfare and that comprehensive community development has different focal points – including physical, social, economic and political development. All the aspects that community development focuses on are extremely important and equally important for the effective development of the community.

Solidarity Helping Hand focuses especially on the socially based development of communities. Although social work is only one aspect of community development, it is of crucial importance, just like education, water supply and electricity supply.

Our community development department currently consists of community centres, regional structures and social services, as well as social development and research.

Solidarity Helping Hand has proven that creating structures and social community development and training is the sustainable way for communities to survive in crises.

Solidarity Helping Hand’s social work services department consists of a team of social workers and auxiliary social workers who are present in the respective regions.

This team is seen as agents of change by harnessing the God-given talents and gifts of communities through targeted socially based community development. In collaboration with the regional organizers and voluntary branches of Helping Hand, the social work services department also mobilizes resources within communities. The service delivery’s focus is set on the vulnerable groups in our society.

Rather than focusing on skin colour, one would wish that the department could focus on also promoting socially based community development in communities – through, among other things, sustainable development programs and projects, training, networking and resource exploitation. All this with the aim of making the community developed, independent and self-responsible – driven by optimally functioning people.

The outcome must be a future in which our country’s citizens can be free, safe and prosperous despite their skin colour.