Happy hikers from the Hermanus Hiking and Outdoor Facebook group led by the inspirational Klaradyn Stemmet, have evolved into a band of happy helpers.
The transformation came about in response to an appeal from Klaradyn on the Hiking and Outdoor WhatsApp group for contributions to make up 170 food parcels to take to the local hospitals daily for the next week, as a show of appreciation to the medical staff and cleaners, all of whom are working under extreme pressure to cope with the current peak of Covid-19 infections. She explained the aim was to get items wholesale or directly from the producer to make up these packs.
Within 25 minutes group members had responded with donations and offers of support in varying forms, from making sandwiches or doing deliveries to being a stand-in cleaner or porter if required.
By the end of the evening (just over a week ago) it became clear another group needed to be formed. This led to the creation of the Help Hermanus Hospitals (HHH) Facebook group to provide a platform on which the community could pledge, assist and show appreciation for everything the medical and hospital staff were doing.
Klaradyn’s first-hand knowledge of Covid-19 put her quest to support those at the frontline on a more personal level.
It was about five days before Christmas last year that she started battling with what she at first thought were the usual summertime allergies, but when this normally super-fit woman started feeling tired when hiking up hills, she knew there could be more to this. She consulted her doctor, who treated her initially for bronchitis, but she was also sent for a Covid-19 test which came back positive.
Ten days of hell followed. Headaches, chest pains and difficulty breathing were the order of the day, added to which she was so fatigued she could not move from her bed until 2 January.
Klaradyn says it was only after having contracted Covid-19 herself, and nearly losing her mom to this dreadful illness that she truly understood what medical staff and frontline workers were dealing with. The experience made her want to do something that would make a positive difference to the lives of those who are working under huge pressure to battle this disease at the coalface.
Hermanus businesses and individuals took up the challenge with alacrity and in the past week deliveries to Hermanus Mediclinic, Hermanus Provincial Hospital, Spescare and EMR have included 350 boerewors rolls which were prepared by Spar (Gateway), a selection of pre-packed meals, snacks and sweet treats from Checkers, 350 homemade crunchies prepared by Raynee and Hollianne Dixon-Warren, and a huge donation of apples from HK Abagold.
In addition, Shaun Haman and members of his local cycling group pulled out all the stops to prepare 350 chicken burgers. Andree Frates, whose husband was being treated in ICU, sourced the chicken fillets from Kekkel & Kraai, and volunteers buttered the rolls and wrapped the burgers. Then there were 350 egg sandwiches filled with free-range eggs from Solitaire and made up by Marietjie Dalbock and her team at Wonderland Lifestyle Nursery.
Klaradyn and all those involved send out a huge vote of thanks to the many individuals and businesses for their support, as well as the volunteers who gave their time to help with preparing and delivering, and the Curro Hermanus Parents Committee who donated to the initiative – having the funds to make it happen has been a major contributor to the success of the project.