Mom’s Unite, a non-profit WhatsApp group, is waging war against hungry babies in KwaZulu-Natal.
Last week Monday, while KZN burned, a Pretoria-based mother of one started receiving desperate pleas from family members in the ravaged province to send baby essentials from Johannesburg. “I was initially going to drive down formula on a trailer, but the need was so great that we had to get others involved,” said Kim Beck, one of the admins of the WhatsApp Non-Profit group, Mom’s Unite.
Beck, who describes herself as a “Pietermaritzburg-girl”, said her heart broke seeing the scenes of brutal unrest erupting in her home province. “Our hearts bled for our mommies who were unable to get formula from shops. We can understand how we would feel in that situation with our babies,” said Beck.
One of the parents based in Pietermaritzburg and Beck’s long-time friend Caitlin Fraser, then started the WhatsApp group. Before Beck knew it, the movement exploded. “So many people joined via the link to the group formerly named Formula Group PMB, and pretty soon we were inundated with requests from all over Durban and Empangeni.” explained Beck.
The group changed its name to Mom’s Unite and within the week it mushroomed into two main groups and around 10 sub groups for areas for distribution. “We have never ever done anything like this before, but it’s a true dream team! We worked so well together, and fate just connected us with where we needed to be so we could actually make an impact, said Beck.
People belonging to a few NGO’s also joined the group and were able to assist with relief efforts for KZN’s babies. One of the groups, Ubuntu Flights, is providing free transport for the goods via charter flights from several small airports in Johannesburg. “We’ve done 10 flights to date and hauled over 2.5 tons of cargo,” said Ubuntu Flight’s Jacqueline Engelbrecht.
“I’ve been amazed at the response from the moms as well,” said Beck. “I’ve seen women from all walks of life buying extra baby essentials and giving it out for free. I’ve seen nurse moms offering medical advice on short-term formula solutions, moms driving their own stock pile around to give it to those in need its been the most incredible thing to watch these moms who are all in this together.”
But it’s not all smooth sailing for relief efforts. Engelbrecht says they haven’t been able to respond to pleas from mothers in Phoenix. “It’s considered a no-go zone or hot spot at the moment. We can’t sent teams because of the threat that they might be looted. It makes it difficult to aid people if there are areas we cannot access.”
When asked if she would continue with non-profit work, Beck who is a stay-at-home mom responded: “I’d love to actually. I have a two-year-old son and another on the way due in 2022. But I’d like to continue helping moms where and whenever possible. This destruction is going to have massive knock-on effects and I don’t think our job is done, not by a long shot.”