On her 27th birthday our very own On-boarding Administrator, Sam Grass, blew out the candles on her birthday cake and made one wish – to provide food and necessary items for the less fortunate and that is exactly what she did next.
Sam set up an organisation called CSI am Sam in order to help and assist the homeless and underprivileged communities to restore dignity into those who may feel lost.
“There are just over 7500 homeless people in Cape Town and more than 55.5% of South Africans living in poverty. This is based on a survey done the end of 2017, which also shows that these stats have only increased each month with normal people now being unable to afford the cost of living in South Africa.”
How did it all start?
I actually got involved in charity from a very young age as my mom used to manage Samaritan’s Purse for our community when I was only 6 years old, I assisted her with packing these boxes and handing them out. After Samaritans Purse left SA, The Santa Shoe Box was introduced and I went on to assist her with this. I always found both my parents always trying their best to assist those in need which has left a strong and lasting impression on me.
My Dad always taught me that it truly takes a lot for a man to beg for food, money or anything, as men would go hungry to feed their family first, so for a man to beg for food takes a lot of courage and it would mean that he is starving. My dad always spoke from personal experience being raised in apartheid and poverty.
I would say both of my parents have played a massive role influencing my charity work today.
Why was the charity set up?
Due to the legacy of apartheid, people of colour were moved out of their homes in Cape Town (District 6), Constantia, Claremont, Harfield and many more communities and moved into smaller, compacted homes with no facilities; forcing the majority of people away from jobs in the city, infrastructure, transport, schools and shops. Because of this, most people weren’t able to sustain themselves financially, forcing them into poverty or homelessness. Poverty is a major problem within Cape Town and South Africa as a whole. The largest squatter camp in Cape Town is Khayelitsha with more than 391,749 people, which is equivalent to almost five times the amount of people in the Isle of Man, and this is only one of the many underprivileged areas within Cape Town.
The cost of one deodorant roll-on is equivalent to R18.99/ £1 which is also enough to buy one loaf of bread and jam. A homeless person is always going to choose a meal over toiletries, as they simply can’t afford it.
Based on the massive need in Cape Town, this was the main reason for starting an organisation that assists people with basic everyday sanitary essentials that we take for granted; like a toothbrush, nail clippers, hair brush, soap, etc.
Whom does the charity help?
It assists anyone and everyone who needs assistance.
It could be a random person in the supermarket, struggling to pay for basic things like toothpaste and 1 litre of milk, to seeing a children’s home needing assistance with toys or books online or a homeless family needing toiletries or school clothing and stationery for their kids.
I like to think that those in need find me rather than me finding them, as every charity drive that I’ve done has been simply by chance.
I believe that we become more aware when we truly choose to open our eyes and see. There is always an opportunity around you to help someone, big or small.
How much time do you spend helping out?
It’s a daily thing, as all it requires is to see someone in need and that is that.
My family and I also make toiletry care packs that we keep in our cars, so as we drive and see someone in need we hand them one. These packs consist of anything from a roll-on, toothpaste, a toothbrush to sanitary pads, razors and facecloths.
What are your main tasks within the charity?
We have to plan - which I never do because I always underestimate the amount of feedback and donations I will receive, however it is very important to plan which items we are in need of and work out how we will go about it. I also ask my friends to use their homes or offices as drop off zones. This makes things much easier for people from different areas to drop off donations; alternatively, I always take a day out to drive around collecting donations or ask my Dad to help.
Has Capital international helped at all?
Definitely! I am so amazed and blessed by everyone stepping forward to assist and donate, I told Helen Long that it truly takes a lot for me to cry, but I was so overwhelmed by everyone’s assistance it had brought me to tears.
The money raised is enough to assist the clinic with being able to give each and every child a gift, toiletries and a meal.
Capital really showed up in numbers and it will truly make a huge impact.
How can other people get involved and help?
I think the first thing people need to know is that helping someone doesn’t really require as much as they might think.
If just 1 person donates 1 item, that is enough.
I always find that people refrain from donating as they assume they would have to buy many items at a time or that it’s not enough, however if 100 people each donate 1 item that is 100 items already. I also tell people when they do their grocery shopping for example, instead of purchasing 1 bar of soap maybe purchase 2 instead and give the other one to someone in need.
All it takes is one person.
If you want to read more about Sam’s amazing journey follow the links below: