Rival Gangs in Cape Town Agreed to An Unprecedented Truce—and Together Bring Food to the Poor

South Africa has seen a 75% drop in violent crime during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, rival gang members in Cape Town are teaming up to collect and distribute food and essential goods to those in need.

“What we’re seeing happen here is literally a miracle,” Andie Steele-Smith, a pastor who works with gang members in the community, told BBC News.

Before the pandemic, South Africa had some of the highest violent crime rates on the continent. But now, new circumstances have created changes that are leading to a silver lining.

The government has imposed some of the toughest quarantine rules in the world, including banning alcohol and cigarette sales. The economy has taken a beating—and the gang members were feeling the effects as much as anybody else.

“I got a phone call from two gang leaders, both saying ‘Andie, I’ve never asked you for anything but we are starving’,” the Australian-born pastor told BBC News. “And I just thought if these guys are starving—they are at the top of the food-chain—the rest of the community is going to be in serious, serious strife.”

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Andie hatched a plan that would not only meet the needs of the community in the moment, but also show these young people a new sense of purpose in the world. He asked members who would normally be trying to kill each other to work together toward a common goal: providing food and vital supplies, such as soap, to those in need.

Preston Jacobs, a member of the “Americans” gang, told the BBC it “feels nice” to be doing something positive for the community. “Now I see there are nice people also, and people want to love what we’re doing now.”

Andie Steele-Smith

Sansi Hassan of the “Clever Kids” gang expressed hope that the truce would become permanent, saying: “If it can stay like this, then there will be no gang fight,” he said. “And every gang will agree with us.”

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Andie, a former banker who moved from Sydney to South Africa to become a pastor five years ago, expressed pride in what these young men are doing. “I’m proud of you guys. Literally, if I died today and went to heaven I would die a happy man.”

(WATCH the BBC video below)

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Across Canada, Scaremongering Becomes ‘Caremongering’ as Citizens Help Each Other In Challenging Times

Anyone who pays attention to mainstream media, especially these days, has experienced “scaremongering”—but what about “caremongering”? Even as I write this article my spelling software suggests that I change caremongering into scaremongering—because there has never been such a word.

Well that’s no longer the case, since Toronto residents Mita Hans and Valentina Harper set up the first of what now totals 35 Facebook “Caremongering” groups to help out people in Canada during the coronavirus epidemic in Halifax, Ottawa, Ontario, and Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.

People are joining the groups to either ask for help or offer help—particularly to people most susceptible to or most at-risk of the more serious symptoms of COVID-19.

Between the 30,000 caremongers of the 35 groups, a “Candemic” attitude has served to reinforce the image of the Canadian kindness.

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“Scaremongering is a big problem,” Harper tells the BBC. “We wanted to switch that around and get people to connect on a positive level, to connect with each other.

“It’s spread the opposite of panic in people, brought out community and camaraderie, and allowed us to tackle the needs of those who are at-risk all the time—now more than ever.”

On the Toronto Caremongering Facebook group, 10,000 members regularly write either one of three typical posts: #ISO which stands for “in search of,” #OFFER posts, where people offer goods or services to people trapped in self-isolation, and #SHOPS which gives info about shops that are open or stocked.

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However, there are also discussion posts like introductory video that Harper posted earlier this week about how learning the Cree language can be something that people can do while self-isolating.

“I think there is an international belief that Canadians are so nice,” she said. “And  I think there is something Canadian about this because as our population is small as a country, there is a tendency to look out for each other, even if there are a few bad apples who buy all the toilet paper!”

This is just one of many positive stories and updates that GNN is churning out with their COVID-19 news coverage this week. Click here to see more uplifting coverage.

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