Demonstrating profound versatility and compassion, Ford Motor Company Southern Africa (FMCSA) has pivoted elements of its daily business operations in order to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the while maintaining and protecting traditional business foundations. By repurposing a number of internal and external resources, FMCSA is playing a dynamic part in flattening the curve, committed to its mantra of #GoFurther and inspiring many others to do the same.
On a global scale, Ford began by producing ventilators in the US, which opened the way to tailor a South African approach by identifying new and turnkey platforms and operations to partner with. Ford has manufactured over 200 000 face shields from its plant in Silverton, Pretoria as well as enabled the delivery of food and healthcare services by Gift of the Givers, Red Cross and Laudium Disaster Management through the use of Ford Everest and Ranger vehicles. Amid its contribution to health and safety, Ford’s dealer network has remained functional during this time of disruption by offering repairs services to all essential service vehicles.
Messages of gratitude have poured in, from formal emails to social media and we’d like to share a few of them in the hope that at the very least they renew your strength against COVID’s effects, or inspire you to help in any way you can.
Eighty-five employees have been trained in the production of face shields at Ford’s Silverton plant, making a difference to the health and safety of many South Africans. Their words are truly heartwarming. Various partners to the project have been valuable in support, including Absa.
“Not only am I a Ford employee, but a proud one. It gives me great pleasure to be part of this, seeing the company I work for aid our frontline fighters with the masks we are making”. This is the true definition of “Heroes without capes.” Bruno Molatsane
“I am very proud to be part of such a great initiative. The making of these face shields makes me feel like I form part of the solution.” Dineo Makgae
“It is a life changing experience to be part of the FMCSA team of employees, that learn together where we are entering a challenge unknown to all of us.” Johann Botha
“We are pleased to extend a hand in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and to assist in protecting our health care professionals on the front line. This is one of our key priorities at Absa as we battle this disease to ensure that those performing essential services including our own frontline staff, who are our heroes, continue to provide services to our customers during this difficult period.” Sazini Mojapelo, Head of Citizenship, Absa Group Limited”
Being able to do repairs work to essential vehicles during lockdown in a safe and sanitised environment was a challenge that was vocally appreciated, and crucial to sustaining industry performance. Dozens of service centres were opened, while Ford also announced an extension of service plans for customers who could not complete their scheduled service during this period. The news gave confidence to Ford’s customers who conveyed their trust in the brand.
“Thank you, David. have a blessed weekend.” SAPS, Richards Bay
“Thank you for your swift response.” Paris Jamieson
“Thank you very much! I appreciate all the effort and time. I hope you have a good day.” John Prinsloo
“Thank you, Mr. Lawrence, and appreciate the prompt feedback.” Eqstra Fleet Vehicle Services, Vulatel
Supplementing the work done by Red Cross, Gift of the Givers and Laudium Disaster Management with the loan of Ford Everest SUVs and Ranger bakkies has allowed the delivery of food parcels, screening equipment and hygiene kits – often delivered directly from the boot to the community.
“The Gift of the Givers Foundation is extremely grateful to Ford for its proactive response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the world to a virtual standstill. These five vehicles allow our medical teams to deliver potential lifesaving aid timeously. Furthermore, it fosters the spirit of ubuntu when South Africans come together, roll up their sleeves and get the job done. We hope that we at Gift of the Givers, like the Ford products, are built tough for the challenges that lie ahead.” Dr Badr Kazi, Gift of the Givers
“Making vehicles available to us will go a long way in assisting charities in their work. Thank you, Ford, for the kind gesture. You are leading the way.” Yusuf Abramjee, Laudium Disaster Management
“Our Red Cross team has relied tremendously on the vehicles provided by Ford, as we don’t have a vehicle in Port Elizabeth. We would not have been able to bring the level of relief to communities and support our brave volunteers in the field if it wasn’t for this amazing gesture. The two Ford Rangers are definitely among of our most critical resources at this time.” Caroline Gallant, Red Cross
The Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the vital role nurses play in fighting epidemics and pandemics – providing high quality and respectful treatment and care. Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers and they are often the first and sometimes the only health professional that people see. Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa co-ordinated a Nurses’ Day gift Drop Off to 1800 nurses at four Provincial Hospitals across South Africa acknowledging the work they are doing each day, especially during this pandemic.
“Thank you very much, we really appreciate it. It’s a special day for (us) nurses so we really want to thank you. Here’s our message to the community. ‘Stay safe, wash your hands and keep social distancing”’ – Tygerberg Hospital
On Easter Ford delivered an edible ‘thank you’ to the nurses and doctors working at Mitchell’s Plain hospital.
“Words are not enough to express our utmost gratitude for this wonderful gesture in spoiling our staff. Thank you once again.” Mrs Brown, Mitchell’s Plain hospital
A South African student team from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) was selected as one of 14 Enactus teams globally to receive a grant through the Ford Motor Company Fund’s COVID-19 College Challenge. Their innovative community project, SmartGro, is a web-based smart-mobility technology solution that facilitates deliveries of essential goods such as food and medication.
“We are grateful to be recognised and awarded by the Ford Fund for the solution we developed, this will enable us to make a positive impact on many households and drivers who are the beneficiaries of the SmartGro Essentials Enterprise. Also, we will now focus on scaling to other nearby communities to maximize impact.” – Muhle Ndwalane
Ford hasn’t forgotten about the animals, who still depend on the Ford Wildlife Foundation and its partners for the work they do in rescuing, rehoming and nursing fauna and flora. Having the Ford Rangers has allowed these partners to continue their work and minimise environmental disruption.
“A very big thank you to the Ford Wildlife Foundation for your support during the Covid-19 lockdown. We have relocated eight wild cheetahs between six reserves in two periods of prolonged travel.” Vincent van der Merwe, Endangered Wildlife Trust
“While most people can retreat to their homes during this pandemic and stop their usual activities, wildlife and nature continues, so the Ford Ranger has been keeping those projects safely and reliably on the move to continue the valuable conservation work or attend to poached/injured animals” Lynda Du Plessis, Ford Wildlife Foundation
Ford also had some fun along the way. Laughter is the best medicine! The Ford colouring books, for all ages, gave moms and dads around South Africa a break from home schooling and the number of downloads from the website might suggest we have a lot of new Ford fans in the making. If you haven’t yet downloaded it, the Ford colouring books are available at this link https://media.ford.com/content/dam/fordmedia/fmea/middle-east/2020/03/Kid’s%20Activity%20Book.pdf?sf120202867=1