Ordinary people have responded in an extraordinary way to the worst drought in decades ravaging much of South Africa.
Since launching Operation Hydrate in January, they have delivered more than six million liters of water to grateful residents and become a lifeline to communities suffering from a lack of rain during the five-month heat wave.
41 tractor-trailer trucks left Johannesburg in convoys one Friday in February to carry the latest donations of 1.2 million liters of water into places like Senekal and Swartruggens.
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“You know, we can’t just see what’s happening and sit back,” Coordinator Yaseen Theba told SABC 3 News. “We started collecting water–and collecting funds so we can get it to these areas.”
The project had received immense support from the public, raising more than $3 million. Over the past 2 days, 1500 volunteers assisted with water collection and distribution in four provinces as well as preparing more loads for drought-stricken areas.
Mango Airlines and ShopRite have partnered with the group to provide more money and volunteers, while support later this month has been pledged by Coca-Cola. Also backing the grassroots effort are the Nelson Mandela Foundation, other nonprofits, NGOs, local schools, and even professional cricket sporting teams and their fans.
“I was happy to have joined the convoy on Friday. It’s social cohesion at its best,” said the country’s Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation. “Madiba (Nelson Mandela) would have been proud of what you are doing.”