Juma Mkwela (South Africa)

My name is Juma Mkwela and in the best of times, I’m busy running Juma Art Tours – a social enterprise connecting the most vulnerable of Capetonians with the people visiting the Mother City* through art, bicycling, and gardening. We connect visitors and locals through responsible tourism that create sustainable projects. The visitors get to connect with locals through mural painting and creating home gardens and during the process, many stories are shared. Our home gardens have been successful for 5 years; some families do prepare traditional meals with the vegetables and stories are shared.

Amid the Coronavirus global pandemic, the mission of Juma Art Tours – creating a positive and sustainable change in Cape Town through tours and community projects – is at a standstill. Yet our vision of connecting people across socio-economic, cultural, and racial backgrounds remains unchanged.

You see, to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, starting on March 27th the South African government implemented strict lockdown measures for an initial period of three weeks, which have now been extended for additional two weeks through the end of April 2020. Unlike social distancing and quarantine guidelines in most European countries and the US, the South African lockdown is not voluntary. One must remain at home at all times unless one is going to a grocery store or a pharmacy and any violators will be arrested and prosecuted.

The good news is that the lockdown is showing early signs of success. Coronavirus infections in Cape Town and throughout South Africa, although growing, remain at levels far below cities and countries in other parts of the world.

The bad news is that the most vulnerable of Capetonians are suffering an outsized share of the burden for the wellbeing of all South Africans. Many families of Khayelitsha, Langa, Guguletu, and other township areas in Cape Town have limited access to running water {so essential for hand-washing} on any given day. Now, during the lockdown, their access to economic activity and thus means of making a living is also severely limited. They must choose between staying at home {too often single-room dwellings constructed of corrugated steel and other refuse materials}, unable to work and thus facing shortages of basics such as food, medicine, and water, or breaking the lockdown rules and risking not only legal repercussions but also increased exposure to the Coronavirus.

It is for this reason that Juma Art Tours has been engaged in local relief efforts, gathering and distribution of basic food provisions such as flour, rice, maize, cooking oil, soap, vegetables, sugar, and water to the most vulnerable of families throughout Cape Town.

Even if you’re reading this from half a world away – as a member of our global family – you can remain connected by donating today. <

In the spirit of UBUNTU {I am because we are} … THANK YOU!

*Mother City: A popular nickname for Cape Town, South Africa

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