Eleven years ago retired pensioners Carol and Uncle Steve Bruton took a week-long break at the Montagu Country Hotel, little expecting that they were about to start a journey that would display the mercy of God to many children and elderly people in desperately poor rural communities.
Their journey took off when they visited a garden market and came across a lady chopping vegetables. It was bitterly cold and she was trying to keep warm by wearing many layers of thin, short-sleeved blouses and many layers of coloured socks.
Uncle Steve silently turned and went to their car, got one of Carol’s coats, came back and draped the coat around the woman’s shoulders. Carol knew that she needed to ask questions about the people of Montagu. She then had a conversation with one of the organisers of the market and the couple came to realise that most people in the area were living in dire need, eking out a living for most of the year when there were no employment opportunities due to the heavily tourism dependent industry.
Those small beginnings lead to the launching of RAM (Rescue Among Many) in 2011 in Montagu and its head, Carol becoming a force in the NPO world in the greater Montagu, Robertson, Ashton regions, reaching out to the poorest of the poor with her husband.
Since then the charitable NPO has grown from strength to strength. Carol and Uncle Steve work tirelessly most days of the week, sorting through clothes, collecting food for distribution, cooking nutritious meals for the folk and taking care of other needs in the communities such as housing, providing school shoes, uniforms, prams for babies, books for libraries and a whole host of other things. Their Facebook page is literally filled to overflowing with the work they do — to list their projects here would be impossible.
In the past few years they have built up a team who have come alongside them and RAM and its project partners have taken on the role of caretakers of the destitute in Montagu.
Through partnership with some very giving companies, Carol and Uncle Steve have managed to build a few Nutec houses for the homeless, installed railings and curtains in an old age home to get them up to standard for government funding, and equipped a sick room at the WA Rossouw Primary School. There are two primary schools and fo ur farm schools supported by RAM, amounting to well over 1000 children.
Carol says her biggest reliance is on God. He has been their provider since the start and she says even though there are times when they are both exhausted, they receive the strength to carry on. Whatever they need, she asks for and it isn’t long before someone contacts her with the donation of the very thing they need.
There have been a few close calls with big needs being met at the 11th hour but they have never gone without. Every time they go to Montagu, driving old faithful Sibusiso (blessing), her brother Alvin’s bus, the people know that provision is coming. Needs are going to be met and some fun will be had. Whether it be a day of celebration for a few hundred primary school children, with music and dancing, or delivering of some much-needed supplies to poverty stricken animal shelters.
One of their latest upcoming projects is an event which will be held in two places on consecutive days, 10th and 11th November 2020.
The so-called Montagu Sarmiethon will be a sandwich drive to feed thousands of children who often go hungry. It will start on November 10th at the Whale Mark in Parow and from there the Sarmiethon will move to Montagu for its next run on the 11th. It’s going to be a fun 2 days, with community love being shown to those less fortunate. Prizes will be awarded for the most jovial tables.