Mensch: 2020? Phew! What a year!

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We can all agree that this has been a year of unprecedented global suffering and increased poverty — that continues to jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of so many across South Africa.

And yet with all this despair, Mensch has seen the unbelievable tenacity and acts of generosity that our community has afforded to those who have been hardest hit. We applaud and thank you all!

Our COVID-19 response
What we did in the first 90 days

This was a time of immense insecurity; we were in lockdown — the future, unknown. To help our members gain an element of stability, we ran workshops focusing on resilience, well-being, health, and personal and professional goalsetting.

In line with our vision of supporting our Jewish community drive transformation, we hosted thought leadership webinars to explore solutions for relief and recovery; and created the ‘Mensch Circle of Support’ WhatsApp Group for members to reach out to one another sharing advice, needs and gives. Through a series of social media and emailer campaigns we brought awareness to the work of Jewish led NGOs responding to COVID-19.

International Connections
We hosted trainings with our international network of change-makers to share, with our local members, their expert knowledge in adaptive leadership, communications and storytelling.
Mensch was invited to join OLAM’s annual Focal Point gathering, an exclusive conference for Jews engaged in global service, development, and relief work — to network, exchange ideas and best practices. We joined an esteemed line up of practitioners, Jewish communal leaders, rabbis, and CEOs from IsraAID, CARE USA, World Jewish Relief UK, American Jewish World Service (AJWS), amongst others.

Our Work Now
Out of the chaos of the first few months, reflecting on our learnings, we formalised our efforts into the Mensch powered SA Jewish Response to COVID-19 and Beyond Campaign — a platform aimed at raising awareness, educating our community and raising much needed money for relief efforts. The campaign aims to guide the Jewish community response to areas of most need, based on the knowledge of our Network Member’s grassroots work. Initially these areas have been: Food Relief, Health and Shelter.

We have initiated two fun, interactive online fundraisers in support of food relief and health:
The first, in July, our International Mandela Day Cook-Along raised R140,000 from Jewish South Africans both local and abroad — with proceeds supporting the food relief efforts of H18 Foundation (refugees), Souper Troopers (the homeless), UJW (children) and Envirochild (the elderly and disabled). And in November, the Mind, Body and Soul HEALTH Webinar raising R40 000 for Masks for Medics (PPE) and The Counselling Hub (mental health).

In the area of Shelter, we ran online appeals and made direct requests to donors for support to help communities living informally impacted by the elements at this difficult time during Covid. R138,000 has been raised enabling the re-building of 23 homes destroyed by fire in Atlantis and Gugulethu and an ECD center in Philippi severely damaged in a spring storm. These funds were donated to Mensch’s technical partner on our joint initiative Project Bayit — Ikhayalami — who did the building.

Mensch has worked with several other Mensch Network member’s and their organisations, raising collectively over R180,000, plus several in-kind donations for:

Anna Shevel’s The Good Food Network and the #OneLoveSA campaign, Dr Andrea Mendelsohn’s employer The Retreat Community Clinic, Olivia Krok’s initiatives CoronaCare and LivCurious, Jason Woolf’s SidebySide Township Development, the Scalabrini Centre for Refugees and more.

As we move Beyond 2020 and continue to work with Jewish led NGOs in 2021 — we invite you to join this important journey with us.

Mensch www.mensch.org.za

Published in the print edition of the December 2020/January 2021 issue.
Download the Dec/Jan issue PDF here.

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