THE sight of hundreds of people sleeping rough on the streets of Pietermaritzburg galvanised Shainaaz Dawood to start collecting blankets, writes ESTELLE SINKINS.
“I was travelling to work from Northdale to Church Street and saw people, children and adults, sleeping on cardboard or whatever else they could find. It made me sad and determined to do something to help.
“I have decided to collect one thousand blankets to hand out to homeless people,” the founder of Gharam Masala Productionz and Epic Act of Human Kindness said.
She added that it was important for her to raise awareness amongst ‘Maritzburg residents about what was happening around them.
“I want people to know that they can contribute and help,” she says. “If you have any old blankets that you no longer use and are still in a good condition please donate them. I will make sure those blankets get to those who really need them.”
Dawood – who is also collecting jerseys, hats, socks and other clothing for adults and children – can be found at weekends manning a stall at Derby Market in Northdale and Medikist Pharmacy in Raisethorpe and is also going door-to-door in her neighbourhood, appealing for donations.
And to ensure she reaches her 1000-blanket target, she and her partner, Vischal Singh, will be hosting an evening of music and dance at KZN Blind and Deaf Hall in Olympia Way at 5.30 pm for 6 pm on September 2. Tickets are R50 each.
Hosted by Gharam Masala Productionz, the variety show, titled InfuZion 2, will feature KwaZulu-Natal’s premier Nagara group, Flash Entertainers.
Also on the bill are Iqbal Nisaar and Party, who will introduce you to the ancient Urdu lyrics used in traditional Qawali music. The songs, which originated in Persia some 800 years ago, are played on harmonium, shai baja (a string, guitar-like instrument), table, dholak drums and keyboards.
Rounding out the entertainment will be dancer, Altaaf Deen Francis, and a number of talented local youngsters.
“Everyone who buys a ticket for the show is being asked to bring along a blanket on the night,” the Bombay Heights resident said. “The ticket will also get you an entry into a lucky draw. All the profits from the show will go towards buying blankets.
“We also want to challenge local companies and businesses to purchase five tickets for their staff or famil and friends and then tag or challenge another company to match or better their contribution, as the success of this fundraiser determines the number of blankets we can buy.”
Dawood is planning to hand over the blankets, together with 1000 food parcels, in December. “I have a team of people to help me, but if anyone would like to volunteer to help, they would be most welcome,” she added.
The blanket drive is not Dawood’s first charitable project. On her birthday in July last year she cooked and packaged meals which were handed out to homeless men and women around the city.
In 2012 Gharam Masala Productionz provided uniforms and schools to a group of underprivileged children and in 2016 they contributed towards some of the travel expenses for a family of a child who was diagnosed with Leukaemia.
Dawood said the long-term goal was to create music, dance and performing arts classes for underprivileged youths and to take care of the homeless by providing meals every month.
“With all the bad going on in this world, the little good that we do will be of great significance in the lives of those who are in need,” she said. “We would like to appeal to the public to support us as we try to make a difference and the only way we can is if we support each other.”
If you would like to donate a blanket you can drop it off at Premiers in Raisethorpe, Komisha Hair and Beauty Salon in Scottsville, at the stalls in Raisethorpe and Northdale or at the fundraising concert.
For more information like the Facebook page: Epic Act of Human Kindness or follow the fundraising campaign on Twitter @GMProductionz.
To book tickets email firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or phone Shaz on 082 838 7469 or Vischal on 079 858 0179.